Remember Gyorgy Gongadze as well as Martin O'Hagan - 'politicians cannot be
neutral to this'
Don’t forget murdered journalists
IT'S "just not good enough" for European institutions
to put aside vital freedom of speech cases like that of murdered journalist
Gyorgy Gongadze, NUJ general secretary John Foster told a public meeting on the
issue on Tuesday 9 October.
Foster said he would write to the Foreign Office to demand UK support for
an independent international inquiry into the death of on-line journo
Gongadze, who was murdered last year possibly at Ukrainian president Leonid
Olena Prytula (centre) with Sara Whyatt, programme director of International PEN
and a member of London Freelance Branch (left) and Simon Pirani.
"When journalists like Gyorgy Gongadze or Martin O'Hagan are killed, the
public's right to know is undermined," said Foster. "Politicians cannot be
neutral to this."
Other points of an action plan he suggested included lobbying the Irish
government, meeting with the Ukrainian ambassador, taking the issue up with
EU human rights institutions and appealing to the Russian journalists'
union for support.
Foster was responding to an appeal for support by Olena Prytula, editor of
the Ukrainska Pravda web site on which Gongadze worked, who was in London
as a guest of the NUJ to highlight the case. "President Kuchma has said he
wants an inquiry, but his actions contradict his words. Our hope is that he
will agree to the international inquiry now being proposed in Brussels."
Reporters Sans Frontières representative Jean-Christophe Menet pointed out
that Gongadze was the 13th Ukrainian journalist killed in five years. But
accusations of the president's involvement - triggered when a former Kuchma
bodyguard released audio tapes that apparently showed the president
conspiring with senior ministers to harm Gongadze - made the case
Sarah de Jong of the International Federation of Journalists said all
campaigning efforts should be co-ordinated internationally. The European
parliamentary committee on human rights should be approached, she
Simon Pirani of the LFB, which sponsored the meeting, reported that an MP
who had been asked for support by telephone on Monday 8 October, the
morning after the bombing of Afghanistan began, had said "you'll never get
anyone to step out of line and be critical [of Kuchma] in a week like
this". That was unacceptable, he argued - the "war against terrorism" made
press freedom campaigns more important, not less.
The visit to London by Olena - who also met with people at the House of
Commons, BBC, Daily Express, Independent,
Guardian and London University while here - was organised
by LFB with national union support.