man in suit at podium

Protecting journalists protects us all

Today, in recognition of World Press Freedom Day, we honored Ali Nur Siad, a contributor to VOA’s Somali service who was killed in a bomb blast in Mogadishu, Somalia, on October 14, 2017. In a small ceremony this afternoon, Ali Nur’s name was added to our Fallen Journalist Memorial, where he joins 14 other brave men and women who paid the ultimate price in pursuit of the truth.

Ali Nur’s death reminds us that our journalists work in some of the most dangerous places on Earth. He was one of more than 300 people killed that day, in the nation’s deadliest terror attack, and he died serving the people of Somalia. His death impacts the community not only by the loss of this young, vibrant and dedicated man, but also in the attack on access to information. The hole in his family can never be filled, but we will honor his legacy and dedication to community by continuing to serve the people of Somalia, providing them with unbiased news and information, so that they can make informed decisions for their own lives.

I am heartbroken to report that we are now preparing more plaques for the memorial wall. Earlier this week, two Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalists were killed in a horrific bomb blast in Kabul, Afghanistan. Abadullah Hananzai and Sabawoon Kakar were targeted, along with other journalists in the area, and brutally murdered in an effort to silence the media. Maharram Durrani, who was to begin working for RFE/RL in mid-May, was also killed in the blast.

Their deaths will not be in vain. We mourn their loss, but we remain steadfast. We will not let these assaults on the press thwart our mission to engage and inform people everywhere in support of freedom and democracy.

Just last week we met with experts from The George Washington University School of Media & Public Affairs and the Committee to Protect Journalists to discuss journalist safety and the challenges and trends in international media freedom, as well as to highlight areas where media are under attack. The continued decline of press freedom worldwide, as measured by Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders, affects us all. A world in which information is controlled foments dissent, marginalization and conflict. Protecting journalists and the work they do is to protect us all.