The arrest of Belarusian journalist and activist, Roman Protasevich has again proven that there are loopholes to counter in the contemporary world to have absolute freedom of speech and expression. He was reportedly travelling to Vilnius from Athens and was sidetracked to land in Minsk, the capital of Belarus after the flight authorities cited a bomb threat. It’s the only country in the European Union that still carries the death sentence on relevant criminal charges. President Alexander Lukashenko was lately criticized by the journalist and was placed on a terrorism list in 2020.
Romans girlfriend, Sofia Sapega was detained along with him and were put under the scrutiny of the law and presently both of them face criminal charges in Belarusian territories. Soon after his arrest in may 2020 he appeared on national television on June 3, 2021, and confessed he had organized mass riots in the country. The new video just released this week found him wrecked and succumbed to wounds on the wrist due to handcuffs.” I realized that these things that I posted, among other things, caused uncontrollable riots on the streets and Minsk was in chaos for three days” Roman Protasevich says in the state television broadcast.
This is not the very first time the journalism industry is facing an emergency kind of situation because of its significant threat to professionals involved in it. The instances of cases, documentaries, interviews etc from various continents suggest that this industry goes under acute pressure for publishing content that criticises any leader and its ideology or its reform.
The data from the Press Freedom Index -2020 reveals that the best performing countries are that of Scandinavian like Norway, Finland and Sweden, Denmark and Iceland whereas the least performers are China, Turkmenistan, Djibouti, Eritrea and North Korea. Unsurprisingly China has been ranked as the worst journalist jailer in the world as it accounted for the arrest of 274 (domestic+international) journalists in its territories. Press freedom index is a Paris based Reporter Without Border(RSF) which publishes an annual report which elucidates the levels of freedom available to the media in 180 countries. It has been consecutively publishing reports ever since 2002. Let’s hover over the recent journalist detentions in various countries across the globe.
- North Korea: a country in South Asia under the acute leadership of shrewd leader Kim Jong Un Yang. It’s the example of the world’s worst leadership and is accountable for the imprisonment and death of Otto Frederick Warmbier (December 12, 1994 – June 19, 2017). He was an American student and was arrested on charges of subversion. Oxford dictionary defines subversion as ”the undermining of the power and authority of an established system or institution”. Although he was released from prison later succumbed to his neurological illness.
- China: the arrest of a journalist that sparked the attention of the international community was that of a woman named Chang Li, she was an Australian citizen and served months of rigorous imprisonment in China. She was arrested on account of furnishing secret state records and data outside the country. She was arrested on 13 August 2020 along with two other journalists and is currently serving in a Beijing prison without any charges. Her arrest drew the attention of International Media and the community of changing relations between the Republic of China and the Republic of Australia.
- United Arab Emirates: it is a beautiful yet very strict country in the middle east known for its successful leadership and skyscrapers. This country boasts tourism and is an oil supplier to the world.it is responsible for the arrest of Adel Al Hasani a Yemeni journalist at Abyan province in September. He has been kept in Al- Mansoura prison. The Southern Council claims Adel had supported two terrorist organisations namely Al Qaeda and the Islamic States. After spending long months in prison his detention was made public and his health dilapidated quite quickly during his term.
- Pakistan: A strict country in Asia accountable for extreme activities in the Indian subcontinent has reportedly shown an insane attitude towards freedom of speech and expression. Recently Bilal Farooqi was arrested by Pakistan police on account of posting extreme criticism of Pakistan’s powerful army and also for defaming the religion. His use of vague language to demoralise religion online drew the attention of cyberlaw violation and consequently attracted strict penalties like jail. The arrest of Farooqi has raised speculations over Pakistan whether they have a free press? Few days after the attention of international media, Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan positively said that free media does exist in Pakistan.
- Russia: the world’s biggest country located partially in Asia and Europe has also been quite stern for journalists and has been accused end number of times by suppressing the voice of activists and violating basic freedom of expression. Just in April, because of rising protests on the arrest of opposition and activist Alexey Navalny, it detained around 11000 people and about 200 journalists to hinder their voice from being spread.in July 2020, 17 journalists were arrested as they were protesting the arrest of Svetlana Prokopeya for her work in the field of journalism. The arrest happened outside the Federal Security Board office in Moscow.
The examples are given above clearly states that various governments have done their best to tap their wrongdoings in the country itself and vanish all those poking in between to make a difference. However this does not mean that none of the people is interested in this field, it is the only industry to continue even in times of apocalypse. Various journalists risk their job to voice their opinions to the international community and restore humanity and democracy in the world.