Not too far from the Pentagon, the Newseum has a glass wall known as the Freedom Forum Journalists' Memorial, which lists all the journalists around the world who have died in the line of duty since 1837. To date, 1655 men and women of the Fourth Estate that we know of have been killed for the simple fact they were reporters. Among the list includes three Canadians. Note that I say that we know of; the news the other day that Mainland China now has a lethal execution bus so they can murder as many people on the go as they can makes me wonder how many scribes they have silenced. Most of the glass panels at the memorial are blank -- a reminder the fight for a free press must never end.
Today, we learned that a very outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin, Anna Politkovskaya, was murdered at her apartment building in downtown Moscow. Her sin? She was reported on the atrocities of Russian troops in Chechnya. She was seen as the Russian equivalent of Bob Woodward, a major risk-taker who never stopped asking the tough questions. Too many, one can sadly surmise.
Mikhail Gorbachev called it a huge blow to an independent press in Russia. It's actually a blow to a free press everywhere; and can only be seen as a comfort to George W Bush who does not believe in criticism as a legitimate form of speech. As long as there's tyranny, there must always be a lone voice crying in the wilderness -- for if even one person hears the calls of anguish there is hope. Putin may have won this round, but there will be others to follow Anna.
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