By Joan Dark
Today is May 3, World Press Freedom Day, so designated to bring public attention to the importance of press freedom, worldwide. According to the official website of the European Union, “This year’s theme – ‘Information as a Public Good’ highlighted the significant role of media in bringing authentic information to the public, and how this depends on a wider ecosystem, which enables information as a public good.”
The World Press Freedom meetings this year gave considerable verbiage to digital platforms and censorship of online hate and “false information.” However, one thing must have slipped by the presenters, which is that there are now coordinated and lethal attacks being launched against a number of US born journalists.
Bilal Abdul Kareem, born in the US as Darren Phelps, has worked for CNN, al-Jazeera and other outlets covering the war in Syria. He repeatedly has escaped efforts to blow him to smithereens when targeted by drone strikes in the Middle East. His lawsuit against the US for its alleged attempts to kill him while performing his press duties abroad was dismissed by federal Judge Rosemary Collyer when the DOJ came waltzing into her courtroom, announcing that the case constituted “national security.” Apparently, national security now trumps the Constitutional guarantees of due process.
Ramola Dharmaraj, whose short stories have won national recognition (Grace Paley prize for short fiction), has been reporting for a number of years now on the phenomenon of targeting and microwave weaponry. She has reported being attacked by these weapons, yet no press freedom groups have responded to her plight.
Mark Crispin Miller, who has been teaching in the media department at NYU since 1997, has been put into a review hearing after a student publicly called for his dismissal from teaching due to his comments in a course on propaganda about mask mandates. Miller has filed a lawsuit against a number of his academic colleagues at NYU and is currently on medical leave. You can learn more on Miller here.
A recent short article on a citizen journalist website, Howardnema.com, details attacks on another journalist and author, Janet Phelan. The article link has been banned by Facebook. In this article, Nema references chemical weapons assaults on the journalist and also her appeals for assistance to the International Federation of Journalists.
The IFJ has dragged their feet, offering solutions to Janet that would no doubt result in deportation. IFJ is aware of this, still they suggest Janet serve herself up as a meal to her abusers rather than help her expose them. The IFJ mentioned, but completely ignored the one solution that could help. For some reason the IFJ refuses to appeal to the Attorney General in Mexico on Janet’s behalf. Janet is in exile in Mexico. This makes me wonder who is buttering the IFJ’s bread.
In fact, it has been determined that UNESCO, which sponsored the World Press Freedom Day, is to some extent funding IFJ. Numerous requests to UNESCO for details of the nature and amount of funds to IFJ have not been responded to.
A number of press freedom organizations are lauding the UNESCO sponsorship of World Press Freedom day. Freedom of the Press Foundation has announced that “Your donation will be DOUBLED on World Press Freedom Day!” Amnesty International, which has hunkered down and ignored appeals from US journalists at risk, including Janet Phelan, published an article detailing the risks to Afghan journalists in respect to World Press Freedom Day, writing that “The Afghan authorities must take urgent steps to provide journalists with greater protection, said Amnesty International on World Press Freedom Day, following a year of spiraling threats, intimidation, harassment, and violent attacks against the country’s media workers.”
But no recognition at AI that press freedom in the US is spiraling down the drain.
The governing dictum here appears to reveal a motive to buttress increasingly fragile propaganda, that the US is indeed a safe country and that press freedom thrives here. In order to maintain this fiction, it is necessary to ignore the US journalists that the US has decided to destroy. The fact that human rights organizations have been apparently co-opted in this impetus should not escape our notice.
In 2005, Diana Barahona authored a stunning exposé of Reporters without Borders, in which that organization’s relationship with the CIA was brought to light.
If press freedom organizations only support the rights of journalists in regimes unfriendly to the US, such as China, Russia and Iran, then we are in a bigger and hotter cauldron than we could ever have imagined.
Possibly next year, World Press Freedom Day will be renamed as World Ministry of Truth Day. As far as accuracy in reporting goes, it would be a good deal more honest.
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