Awarded For Their Courageous Fight!
Well, it is difficult for the Authoritarian Rulers across the Globe to accept the declaration of the names of the recipients of the Nobel Prize for Peace for the year 2021 easily! The Nobel Committee, seemingly, has sent a strong message to them, by honouring journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia with the Peace Prize “for their courageous fight for Freedom of Expression”, in an age marked by authoritarian regimes, misinformation and hate speech. In a statement, the Nobel Committee said that Ressa and Muratov were representatives of all those journalists “who stand up for this ideal in a world in which Democracy and Freedom of the Press face increasingly adverse conditions”. It further said: “Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Information help to ensure an informed public. These Rights are crucial prerequisites for Democracy and Protect against War and Conflict. The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov is intended to underscore the importance of protecting and defending these Fundamental Rights.”
Journalist Resa became a legend in the Philippines a decade ago for her outspoken protest against the tyranny, abuse of power, corruption and violence to subdue people, and also against the use of State-sponsored terrorism. Ressa co-founded Rappler, a digital media platform for investigative journalism, in 2012. According to the Nobel Committee, Rappler has “focused critical attention” on President Rodrigo Duterte Regime’s controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign. “The number of deaths is so high that the campaign resembles a war waged against the country’s own population,” it stressed. The Rappler CEO is still fighting the lone battle, ignoring the diktat of oppressive Government and drug mafias. She has also revealed how the Social Media helped spread fake news, thus becoming a tool of the Ruling Class to humiliate the opposition.
Muratov, too, is fighting the same battle in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Way back in 1993, he founded a newspaper, Novaja Gazeta, which is considered to be completely neutral. Muratov has been serving as Editor-in-Chief of the daily since 1995. From the very beginning, Muratov and his daily were vocal against the Abuse of Power by the Government, dictatorship, corruption, police brutality, illegal arrests, election fraud and all forms of corruption and oppression by the Russian Military inside and outside the country. Since the launch of Novaya Gazeta, six of its journalists have been killed, among them was Anna Politkovskaya who covered Russia’s bloody conflict in Chechnya.
In a sense, the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize is inspiring, as well as chilling. The Norwegian Committee has recognised the firm stand and bravery of a section of Journalists, who are trying hard to safeguard their profession from disrepute by being part of the propaganda machinery at a time when Democracies around the world dismantle one of its pillars, the Press. The Committee, in its citation, mentioned that a “free, independent, and fact-based Journalism serves to protect against the Abuse of Power, Lies and Propaganda”. While Ressa has been waging a war against President Duterte’s Authoritarian Regime in her country, Muratov has been taking on President Putin. Both the journalists are well aware of the hazards of such a stance. However, they have made it clear that it is necessary to speak the Truth, despite all dangers.
In its latest report, the Committee to Protect Journalists stated that 21 journalists were killed in India in 2020 while on duty. Journalism has become one of the most dangerous professions in the fast-changing world, as the traditional safety nets, such as the Rule of Law and Truth, have stopped functioning in an effective manner. In many countries, the Law is used selectively against the truth-tellers. Also, there is a tendency to manufacture the truth inside a back-room even in Western Democracies.
The question arises here is: Will the Nobel Prize to Ressa and Muratov help protect the Media? According to Sociologists, the Nobel Committee has given the Award not only to two individuals, but to a Profession, as what they represent is the journalists struggling to bring their stories to light even in the remotest parts of the Globe. It is an honour for those who still find the strength and courage to dig deep and expose the wrongdoings of the Powerful. In the past, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Statesmen and political adversaries of those in Power. This time, the Nobel Committee decided to emphasise the role of Investigative Journalists, keeping in mind that only these people could protect the basic Human Rights by endangering their lives.
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