Monika Nagyova, one of the famous writers of Slovakia, was in the fifth issue of the Journalist Post with her article emphasizing freedom of expression. Her article on Slovakia’s struggle for democracy, through a murdered journalist, received great acclaim.
“Is it possible to criticize Erdoğan on the streets of Turkey?” Slovakian writer Nagyova asked, and shared a photo she took with @journalist_post magazine.
Here is the article from Monika Nagyová.
In Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, I asked a friend from Turkey, “Is it possible to criticize Erdogan on the streets of Turkey?”
“Yes, you can! But you will suffer the consequences, they will put you in prison and hurt your family,” my friend replied.
This dialogue occupied my memory for a long time. It seems inconceivable to me that something like this could happen in my country. I live in a country where everyone criticizes the government from morning to night. Politicians are criticized by the public and various organizations, especially the media. The cartoons criticize the highest authorities of the state on social platforms. I live in a country where the health system, the education system is not working well and the domestic politics is ridiculous. But there is still the fact that we can freely express our opinions.
Of course, this freedom was not always there. My country has been ruled by ‘Big Brother’ Russia for 40 years and led his life under a communist regime that did not allow the people to express themselves or freely fulfill their beliefs. I was a child at the time and I didn’t realize these difficulties. The regime has banned many authors from publishing their books. I absolutely cannot imagine the possibility of such a thing happening today. I love reading, and if there were banned authors in my country, I would give any effort to find and read their works.
THE UGLY TRUTH
I am a blogger on the most read intellectual news portal. During my 17-year publishing career, the editorial team of my publisher, SME Daily, has never touched my texts. It’s true that I don’t focus on political articles. Rather, I often reflect on the ugly truths that affect people living in this country. Shortage of doctors, potholed roads, poverty, mistreatment of the elderly…
I also write about the fact that this society is struggling to come to terms with ‘otherness’ . We look down on people, for example, just because they visit a psychiatrist. Telling a story about what doesn’t work is a good way to get the problem into the public’s subconscious. I have received very good feedback from my readers so far.
I published my first book last year. The book called Sídlisko [The Estate] is set in the eastern Slovak city of Košice, the largest Romanian ghetto in Europe, where about 6 thousand Romanian live. The story is based on a real event, and critics called my book a social drama. A leading sociologist said in his article about my book that I made visible things that we don’t want to see. A terrifying story that emerged from real events.
THEY LACK BASIC RIGHTS
The realities in which the story takes place are terrifying. The limitation of water and heat, the devastation of apartments and their surroundings is monstrous. Furthermore, domestic violence and patriarchal hierarchy is a widely accepted norm there. The sociologist writes that it is a sad state of affairs after hundreds of studies, dozens of action plans, and millions spent. Our country is failing to break the vicious circle of generational poverty and social exclusion of marginalised Roma. Many children today do not even get a basic stuff – to sit in school without hunger. – – – – In the book, I did not look for an answer to who is to blame. I just portrayed the reality. The state, but also the whole society, the minority, the majority, and last but not least, each one of us, must answer who is responsible for this. I realize that my book probably wouldn’t be published during the communist regime because it holds up a mirror to one of the biggest failures in this country. –
I saved the most important topic for last. It was a cold February. Monday February 26, 2018. I came to work, made myself a coffee and turned on the computer. I checked my e-mails and checked the newspapers on the Internet. The headlines were as follows: a journalist and his fiancee were killed in Slovakia.
I felt like someone had poured a bucket of cold water over me. This news not just jolted me out of my routine morning, but also out of the apathy I had been living in for years. The journalist had lain in a pool of blood for five days, and when he was found, became a hero in Slovakia. Ján Kuciak, a modern-day knight who used data to reveal the truth. A talent silenced by a gunman in his old house that he was about to do up. He was shot coming upstairs from the basement, and his fiancée at the computer where she was choosing a dress for her wedding.
I could think of nothing but this terrible news. Colleagues remembered Ján, who lost his life, as a workaholic. He was a colleague who preferred to expose the corruption committed by someone who was in a high position all day long with coffee at his desk, at the computer, with his fingers on the keyboard. He had spent long days at his desk in the morning, going through business records and tax returns. His death shook Slovakia. We took to the streets, went to demonstrations, listened to speeches attended by thousands of people.
CORRUPT GOVERNMENT AND FEARLESS JOURNALISTS
I felt that something important was emerging, something that would change the course of history. At that time, no one believed that the killer would be found. However, everything began to change. The government that ruled here for 12 years was corrupt at its core. New cases appeared every day. Journalists were not afraid, they knew that their work was a unique task. Even news outlets rivals to each other have come together to give the important information to the Slovak people. As a result of this, the Prime Minister resigned. As a result of the corruption he was involved in, he was not elected after 12 years. Now a new government has taken office, which reassures everyone that all the evidence reveals that the shooter of the murder of Ján Kuciak was committed by an influential Slovak oligarch.
30 years after the fall of the communist regime, it had escaped our attention how important freedom of expression is. In fact, we were deceived into thinking that freedom of expression is included in democracy. Two innocent people had to die for us to wake up. We have experienced a trauma from which Slovakia will take a long time to recover.