FRED KWINT / “62 yo. works for Dutch national tv as a researcher. Made programs on problems in developing countries, streetgangs, etc. Values human rights and freedom of press. Twitter: @FredKwint”
After the Second World War many captured soldiers used the phrase: “Wir haben es nicht gewusst” , we didn’t know. As journalists it is our sacred duty to make sure no one can ever say that again.
I have been working for television for 35 years. For a public broadcaster in the Netherlands. A safe haven for free press. Attacking a journalist was considered
attacking the freedom we have had as a nation for hundreds of years. Except maybe in the dark days of the Second World War. But more and more we see a free press under siege. Also here, where right-wing nationalists start to rouse suspicion against the free press that they like to call MSM, the main
And that rings an alarm. Because dictators have always started targeting the free press. They don’t want questions, they want obedience. They don’t like questions, they like quotes!
And for those who keep their eyes open, this phenomenon can be seen everywhere. In Turkey, where journalists are being accused of Gülenism or terrorism when they ask too many questions. Or in Trump’s America, where they were ridiculed and accused falsely of having a hidden agenda. We
see in in Poland and Hungary and most recently in Myanmar.
And the pattern didn’t change much since Hitler took power. Find a common enemy, be it the Jews, the Rohingya, the Kurds, the Western World, the lgbt-community. Name any minority and they can be used for this goal. Focus the hate of the people in one direction. Away from the leader and his abuse of power in the direction of a minority. Any minority…
They are after us, so let’s get them first. Don’t think for yourself, let the leader do the thinking, you just follow as sheep… And put in the poisonous potion of nationalism. We see it here with fascist parties glorifying our colonial past and our so called Golden Age. And we see that in every nation. Nationalism and a common enemy.
And this is where an obedient press is needed. This is where it gets crucial to have a press that applauds the leader. People need to believe in the things they are told, not question them. This is why they limit internet access or buy media outlets like tv stations and newspapers and arrest those who do not want to cooperate. They are the enemies of the people…
But are they? Why is a free press so damaging for (wannabe) dictators? Because usually they want a people that follows them without questioning. They want to control how people think. Journalists are an important shackle in the chain of rule. They can be the conscience of a nation. What would have happened if people would have known the truth about the concentration camps in Nazi-Germany? If they would hear the truth about the camps in China where the Uyghurs are being re-educated or should I say eradicated? What would have happened if the people of Myanmar knew about the atrocities the military committed towards the Rohingya minoritiy? Or the political arrests made in Turkey after the attempted coup? A free press would have changed the course of history in all those countries mentioned before. People would have seen the truth and would have responded accordingly.
For this reason journalists around the world risk their lives and often loose it. We all remember Mr. Khashoggi, but the list is almost endless. The number of journalists that were murdered in the line of duty has doubled in 2020. But we carry on with our work. All over the world, from Brazil to Russia because we are dedicated to one thing: the truth. And our audience deserves to know. After the Second World War many captured soldiers used the phrase: “Wir haben es nicht gewusst” , we didn’t know. As journalists it is our sacred duty to make sure no one can ever say that again. It is our duty to make sure they could have known. And I am well aware of the fact that journalists are human too, they can be influenced, driven by wrong motives like greed or fame, but in general
journalists are dedicated to the truth and deserve our full support. So the people can see the consequences of what the leadership decides, so the people can see the brutality used against unarmed civilians, so the leaders can be held accountable by being questioned, over and over again. And so that politicians will be confronted with their actions.
Truth is a word often abused. But I am convinced in my. Heart that only truth can bring freedom. Oppression of truth is leading to dictatorship.