Jamal Khashoggi, an eminent Saudi journalist and a critic of the incumbent Saudi Arabia government was murdered inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018. Khashoggi, who had self-exiled in 2017 and was living in the United States, was a regular contributor in America’s leading media house, Washington Post, and used to strongly criticise the policies of the powerful crown prince of Saudi Arabia Muhammad bin Salman (MBS). His murder is seen as a political conspiracy to silence dissent. Khashoggi’s murder and the deafening silence of the US to pull up Riyadh has once again highlighted the growing intolerance towards those who criticise the establishment in both countries.
A country prospers in real terms with the true application of freedom of expression, something which is evidently missing in Saudi Arabia, especially under MBS. International community has, time and again, criticised his regime for crackdown on dissent, Khashoggi’s murder being the latest example. Interestingly, in spite of the US Senate resolution as well as CIA assessment blaming MBS for the murder, US President Donald Trump failed to take any definitive action against Riyadh, a crucial ally of America to counter Iran and Russia in the middle east. Even Turkey’s President Erdogan has confirmed that the order to kill Khashoggi had come from the highest level of Saudi government and therefore has requested for an international inquiry. The UN chief Antonio Guterres has also argued for the credible investigation into this case to punish those who are guilty. However, US appears to be wilfully ignoring the call for justice. As a result, US is being alleged of practising double standard. On the one hand, it never misses an opportunity to raise the issue of human rights violation in developing countries. On the other hand, it is silent on the serious issue of Khashoggi’s murder regardless of enough pieces of evidence suggesting the involvement of Riyadh.
It is a grave matter of human rights violation and highlights the increasing instances of attacks on media all over the world. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), 63 journalists were killed, while 171 were imprisoned across the world in 2018. The increasing attacks on journalists show the greater intolerance towards freedom of expression which is regarded as the cornerstone of humanity. On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists (2 November), Eiffel Tower’s lights were turned off for one minute on the request of RSF to pay tribute to Khashoggi and other journalists who were murdered for fulfilling their earnest duty of reporting.
The silence on such issues will only give unbridled powers and impunity to the perpetrators of the crime, which in turn will unleash havoc on the entire humanity. Security of those who choose to speak truth to power is of utmost importance and such matters need to be given a high priority at the local, national and international forums so that strict mechanism can be developed to contain such crimes. If we fail to deliver justice to these journalists (1010 journalists have been killed since 2006-2017), the time would come when no serious reporting would be done and important cases of corruption, crimes and other vital issues would go unreported due to fear amongst journalists. I would like to put my words to end with these touching words of Rochelle “Each year, one journalist gets a Pulitzer and one hundred get shot.”