Keep the Lights On – Journalism Is Not A Crime!

On December 29, 2013, Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed  were jailed in Egypt. They have been sentenced to seven and ten years. Their appeal is scheduled to be heard on Jan. 1, 2015. To commemorate the one year anniversary of their jailing, newsrooms across the world will stop work at 1200 Egypt-time to pause and reflect on the year’s events.

2014 goes on record as the second worst year for journalists jailed worldwide, topped only by 2012, which saw 232 imprisoned. However, the numbers do not include those held by Daesch (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, currently estimated to be approximately 80.

“Journalists are now losing the protected observer status that they had, and now they’ve become the story rather than being the witness to the story to some groups,” says Robert Mahoney, deputy director at the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

“Increasingly, the CPJ study notes, governments are enacting laws that facilitate media crackdowns based on the notion of state security, as is the case with a new law in Japan.

It’s an argument used by major jailers of journalists, such as China, Iran and Egypt, where the number of jailed reporters has double since 2013, to 12 identified cases.”

Here in the United States, the Obama Administration has done more damage to freedom of the press than previous administrations. “For the first time in its 32-year history, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has published a report investigating press freedom in the United States. Published Thursday (October 9), the report follows an unprecedented number of prosecutions of government sources and seizures of journalists’ records under the Obama administration that many contend have curtailed press freedom and government transparency.”

Kenya is threatening to bring charges against journalists and all involved with the making of a documentary in that country that covered “Inside Kenya’s Death Squads”, broadcast on December 8.

Here are a few more headlines you may have missed.
Australia passes security law, raising fears for press freedom
Spain’s new security law sparks protests across country
2 days later; Spanish Government Strips Away Protesting Rights
In Turkey, police arrest journalists and executives
Turkey’s media crackdown: World reactions in quotes
Hungary’s Crackdown on the Press
Burma Backtracks on Press Freedoms
Russia sees harsh crackdown on independent media
Armenia: Government Demand for Media Sources Raises Fears of Crackdown
Ethiopian media gagged by anti-terror laws
Argentina: “Anti-Terrorism” Law Set to Land Journalist Years in Prison for Recording Police

Journalists carry a responsibility that few without their training and background ever are made privy to. We are willing to do what it takes to get a story out. We know that without the stories that are written, the pictures that are taken and the interviews and reports that are reviewed, the world would not know.

What would we not know? Go 24 hours without any news of any kind, and then try to imagine being shocked to find out half of what you already know. Journalists are the lights in the darkness of world oppression; without illumination, many millions would never have a ray of hope. Are you willing to let that light be extinguished?

Stand up for journalism and the people who have dedicated their lives to it. Many have died bringing you the news, and many more will perish doing the same thing.

Journalism is not a crime.

Sign the petition for the Al Jazeera journalists here.

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