Saturday, October 12, 2013

blind injustice

"Tom Stoppard: winner of the 2013 PEN/Pinter prize" (from: The Telegraph)

"We are selling the family silver, by which I mean the family honour. I began in newspapers, and I revered them. Perhaps I romanticised them. A journalist photographer in one of my plays says 'I've been around a lot of places. People do awful things to each other. But it's worse in places where everybody is kept in the dark. It really is. Information is light.' So my other mantra on human rights was: a free press makes all the other freedoms possible. […]
     Honest and brave journalism has not ceased, here or elsewhere. Because I believe in it and consider it vital where charmed lives are not the norm, I am proud to share the PEN/Pinter prize with the Belarusan journalist Iryna Khalip, who knows what it is to be beaten and incarcerated for telling truths, in her case for reporting in defiance of the regime of the dictator Alexander Lukashenko. Iryna is a correspondent in Belarus for the independent Moscow newspaper Novaya Gazyeta. Out of jail now, and no longer under house arrest but under constant surveillance by the KGB, Iryna continues her insightful reportage for Novaya Gazyeta on the knife-edge of self-incrimination and re-arrest. I salute her courage and her example; she is the reporter I wanted to be.
     I met Iryna in Minsk eight years ago. I was there for only four days. Afterwards I wrote an article about my visit. In Minsk I'd gone to talk to a film-maker who had made a documentary poking fun at Lukashenko. It was shown on television in Germany and France, and two days after that two men jumped him at his front door and left him unconscious and with a broken leg. His name was Yury Khashchevatskiy. I talked to him in his flat. He showed me his film.
     My article ended. 'I do my bit to Khashchevatskiy about how uncomfortable it feels to be a privileged visitor watching his film with him, knowing that soon I'll be on a plane home, where I can publicly call the prime minister a liar and a criminal if I want to. He lights up another Belarusan Kent and says, "The fact that you can call your prime minister a liar and a criminal is not his virtue, it is your virtue, the virtue of your people."'"
– Tom Stoppard, The Guardian

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