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Mo Farah’s experiences show the impact of compassion toward the “others”

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Mo Farahs Documentary

While the world spins in a gyre of unrest, a BBC documentary on the life of British Athlete Mo Farah has brought another darker aspect to light. In a 60-minute documentary, Mo Farah, whose name at birth was Hussein Abdi Kahin, revealed he was trafficked into the UK from the former French colony of Djibouti. 

Sharing experiences of his bleak past and his feelings of devastation and alienation in a world that was new to him Farah told the BBC how the conflict in his birthplace of Somaliland forced his mother to send him to his relatives in Djibouti from where his miseries began. While the documentary shows the struggles he went through to make his way in a country far away from home, it also serves as a reminder of being considerate and compassionate toward immigrants and the “others” of a society. 

According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), young kids in countries of conflict, economic decline, and marginalized communities are at higher risk of getting “tricked, forced or persuaded to leave their homes”. They are then forcefully used as work slaves or treated as commodities for sale. 

The International Organization for Migration has also noted that trends in human trafficking are gendered as well. Both men and women are chosen and trafficked to perform certain jobs. It further explains how immigrants can also fall prey to human traffickers as their social vulnerabilities, unfortunately, makes them an easier target. 

As per the most recent figures[1]  available, about forty-nine thousand people were trafficked[2] . These figures, up till 2018, do not include the cases that went undetected because of the lack of resources for identification and screening at borders. 65% of these people comprised women and girls, while 20% of men and 15% of young boys were trafficked from various regions around the world. Since then, however, the state of the world has drastically changed. Covid-19 has put various communities on the verge of financial decline. This, in turn, has increased the risk of people in those communities and countries, trying to find stability and financial security, and falling prey to human traffickers. 

Similarly, after the US pulled its forces out of Afghanistan deserting an already socially, politically, and economically turbulent country. It created a huge influx of migrants towards western nations as well as its neighboring countries, thus escalating opportunities for the unscrupulous to exploit those desperate enough into forced labor.

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine is another example of a conflict that has also forced people from both countries to evacuate to a safe place. In these types of situations, vulnerable, people and especially children become an easy target.

While the victims are forcefully exploited for work, they continue to live in visually civilized societies. The biasedattitude of people towards the “others” of society renders them unnoticed. These biases are fed to people through electronic and print media. While stereotyped accents and professions make it difficult for immigrants, refugees, and the apparent “aliens” of society to find their place, it also increases the chances of victims of child and human trafficking to continue being under the shadow of their oppressor. 

The trauma of fleeing an area of conflict, or forcefully being removed from one’s home makes it difficult for victims of human trafficking and refugees to play an active role in society. But as proven by Mo Farah, when proper attention and care is given to even those who seem “misfits,” they can become an asset and inspiration to a whole nation.

A boy separated from his mother at a young age, was able to return to her years later as Knight of the Realm and honored by Her Majesty the Queen, and all because of the decency, care, and humanity shown to him by his early education teachers.


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All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Entertainment

Book Review: Everyone’s invited: A guide to understand everything that’s wrong with the society

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Soma Sara Book review about rape culture

In a world filled with violence against women, Soma Sara’s book is a justification on why a movement against rape culture is absolutely necessary in this day and age. ‘Everyone’s Invited’ was first started as a movement by the author when she was 21 years old during the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic. The movement was kick-started by Sara when she posted a series of Instagram stories concerning sexual abuse which revealed a much bigger problem when she started receiving DMs that resonated with the sentiments of the posts. Sara received so many statements and testimonies through Instagram when she decided to start a website where everyone is invited to talk about their experiences concerning sexual assaults, abuse, harassment and even rape. As testimonies and support from survivors kept on pouring the movement took off in 2020 which helped in creating some real changes in the form of new policies and laws to keep teenagers and women safe in the society.

Everyone’s Invited as a movement strives to tackle those traditions, behaviours and beliefs that normalise rape culture by allowing misogyny, rape jokes, abuse grow in a space which is detrimental to the progress of women. Sara’s stories opened the Pandora’s Box on schools in UK where such behaviours and attitudes grow at an alarming rate. The momentum created by the movement helped policy makers engage with schools and Universities in creating new guidelines thereby asking all universities to review their sexual misconduct and harassment policies by summer 2021. It also prompted the launch of NSPCC helpline for survivors of abuse in education.

Sara’s book is different in a way in understanding rape culture because she has portrayed the different root causes that could be the reason why such a culture exists even now. Unchecked patriarchy and toxic masculinity are some of the key words the author mentions in her book. However, Soma goes a little bit further in identifying one of the root causes as pornography. In one of the chapters, Sara elaborates how pornography is ruining everyone’s sexual expectations due to performance exaggeration  and how it influences the minds of young boys and men to use violence on women if their needs are not according to what they have seen on the screen.

Another important reason that Sara highlights is institutional patriarchy which allows for inbred sexism among females from a young age. The author mentions that the fact where women are told to bear pain is one of the reasons why so many cases go unreported because pain sometimes gets associated with shame. Sara points out that if women are made aware of their rights or taught from a young age that there is no need to bear the brunt of the uncomfortable actions of men with a smile, a change is inevitable.

Sara also points out that men must be made aware of how disrupting their actions can be on a woman’s life. Again she says that this awareness must be instilled in young boys so that they can grow up to become responsible adults with empathy and kindness. 

The unique factor of the book is that it also covers the struggles faced by the author due to the movement which she founded. Sara was faced with allegations that the work she is doing in promoting awareness about rape culture will cause harm to the lives of boys because they cannot be ‘boys’ anymore.  The book not only aims at creating awareness regarding rape culture but also provides the readers with solutions to combat the same. Sara’s statements in the book are backed with abundant research and resources that one could use to understand rape culture better. Therefore Sara’s book can be summed up as a starter guide to understand the Everyone’s Invited movement and the importance the testimonies submitted holds in understanding rape culture which is like a weed in this world, that is, if unchecked, has the potential to disrupt lives. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

At least 30 people die in recent violent protests in Baghdad, Iraq

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iraq protesters muqtada al sadr

On August 29th, Iraq’s Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced his withdrawal from political activity via Twitter, criticising the failure of fellow Shiite leaders to reform a corrupt government. He also announced the closing of all his offices nationwide. Al-Sadr’s announcement was followed by violent protests in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, which resulted in at least 30 deaths and 200 injuries.

The protests were started by Al-Sadr’s supporters, who stormed the Republican Palace in Baghdad’s Green Zone, a heavily fortified area that serves as the headquarters of Iraqi regimes. Both foreign embassies and the government are housed there.  But Al-Sadr’s supporters fired rocket propelled grenades and machine guns from there as well.

Due to the protests Iraq’s current Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Khadimi has now put off all government meetings until further notice. Al-Khadimi has also urged Al-Sadr to “help call on the demonstrators to withdraw from government institutions”.

According to some reports Al-Sadr’s supporters had been occupying parliament buildings for a while now. They then charged at the headquarters in the Green Zone. Pictures showed exultant Al-Sadr supporters cheering in the Republican Palace swimming pool,, waving around the Iraqi flag and a photo of Al-Sadr. 

In response to the protests the Iraqi military said they are practising “the highest levels of self-restraint and brotherly behaviour to prevent clashes or the spilling of Iraqi blood.” However, according to reports hundreds of protesters were pushed out of the Republican Palace by tear gas and bullets used by Security forces.

The military also introduced a strict curfew, restricting the movement of vehicles and pedestrians as well, which was in place until further instructions by the government. In Baghdad the curfew was introduced from 3.30pm local time. Later, a nationwide curfew was introduced as well with the aim to urge protestors to leave the Green Zone.

As a response to the violent outbreaks, UN chief Antonio Guterres asked all parties to “take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation.” Stephane Dujarric, his secretary-general, also added in a statement that he “appeals for calm and restraint and urges all relevant actors to take immediate steps to avoid any violence.”

A day later, on Tuesday August 30th, Al-Sadr released a statement via television, apologising for the violence and saying, “the spilling of Iraqi blood is forbidden.” In his statement he also threatened his supporters that “if in the next 60 minutes they do not withdraw, as well as from parliament, then I will abandon these supporters.”

The nationwide curfew was lifted after the new statement.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

UN debate human rights in Afghanistan, concern for women especially

Human rights in Afghanistan and more specifically those of women are being discussed at the UN after Taliban takeover of the country.

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human rights in Afghanistan

Since the recapture and overthrow of the Afghan government on August 15th 2021, the Taliban have slowly reverted to strict rulings for women in Afghanistan, raising issues of human rights in Afghanistan. Despite the several reassurances and claims that women’s rights would be protected under the new Taliban regime, the UN (Human Rights Council) believe it is now time to find solutions after many violations on women’s human rights have occurred. 

Various points were discussed during the debate but the general consensus amongst all the countries who participated, was that women in Afghanistan are facing human rights violations on a systemic level. The Taliban have triggered the removal of women from many occupations as well as dismantling previous structures to help girls receive adequate education. 

Many speakers expressed their concerns that the Taliban are slowly removing women from all public spheres of life, which would set up entirely male-dominated social hierarchies. These hierarchies are created from young ages, as girls are not allowed to participate in further education . If this is able to continue for the foreseeable future, although it may look grim for Afghanistan now, it may get worse. The lack of education for all girls may prove to be a bad decision for nature of the Taliban’s rule within the next decade. It was also mentioned that without the equality and participation of women in Afghanistan, the social and economic development of the country can only go so far. 

The UN were also able to debate what they may be able to provide Afghanistan after the removal of US troops from the nation. One solution suggested was more general rather than specific for women but emphasised the importance of continuing humanitarian aid as the country is also facing a poverty crisis. Some in the council blamed this poverty on the previous US occupations in Afghanistan, whilst also requesting that the US restore the damages and assets to the country. 

It was discussed that if these resources are provided by the UN in order to aid the Afghan people, it would still not be sufficient enough to allow the country to prosper because the involvement of women is fundamental both socially and economically. 

Although it may seem like little, council members believed that this debate was a spark in the quest of restoring the human rights of women in Afghanistan. Fawzia Koofi (First Woman Vice President of the Afghan Parliament) stated that the situation for women had previously become “unique and dire” and there are fears amongst society that this may occur again and without debates like this, then our fears may become true. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

Udaipur, India: Hindu tailor beheaded by two extremist Muslims 

Unfortunate incident of Hindu tailor beheaded by two extremist Muslims in Udaipur, India 

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Hindu tailor beheaded by Muslim extemists

Kanhaiyai Lal Teli, a Hindu Tailor was beheaded by two extremist Muslims in Udaipur in the western state of Rajasthan, India. Tell was murdered by the two Muslim extremists who came into his shop on Tuesday. Mr Lal was stabbed multiple times, his throat was slit, and he was then beheaded. The act was filmed on a mobile phone and posted online.  In the video, Mr Teli could be heard screaming.

The attack came following rising religious tensions between Muslims and Hindus in India after the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) now ex-official Nupur Sharma made derogatory comments regarding the Prophet of Islam.Sharma made the comments on live television and sparked countrywide protests, some of which turned violent, as well as being strongly condemned by many Islamic countries. Three Islamic countries summoned their Indian ambassadors to address the comments. Following global condemnation, Sharma was suspended  by the BJP and her comments were retracted. Another party official expressed support for Sharma’s comments and was expelled from the party. 

The controversy gave way to protests across India as well as rising communal violence between Hindus and Muslims.  In the Eastern Indian state of Jharkand, two Muslim men were killed in a protest on June 10, which was held calling for Nupur Sharma’s arrest.

Kanhaiya Lal had posted support for Sharma’s comments on a Whatsapp status, to which some Muslims took offence, and he was arrested but afterwards granted bail. His wife Jashoda claimed that they had received death threats from extremist minded Muslims in the days before her husband’s murder and had skipped work following his bail because of the threats. Mr Teli also filed a complaint with the police concerning the death threats. His killer’s pretended to be customers to the shop and first had their measurements taken by Mr Teli.

The perpetrators cited vengeance for Mr Telis’s Whatsapp status supporting Umur Sharmar’s comments. Brandishing knives they used to kill Mr Teli in another video in which they claimed responsibility for the murder, they addressed Prime Minister Modi; “Listen, Narendra Modi, you have lit the fire but we will douse it…I pray to God that this dagger will one day reach your neck too.”

The murderers were arrested within hours of the killing while attempting to flee the city on motorbikes. The chief minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot announced their arrest on Twitter and stated authorities would “ensure strict punishment and speedy justice”.

A prominent Muslim religious organisation, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, condemned the incident and said it was “barbaric, uncivilised and there is no room for justification of violence in Islam..no citizen should take law in his own hands. Let the law prevail.” 

The BJP party has been accused of helping cause rifts between Hindus and Muslims and marginalising the lattersince Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to office in 2014.

Following the attack, authorities shut down internet across the state of Rajasthan over concerns that it would cause further unrest within the community. The murder gave way to protests in Rajasthan. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Economics

Africa taken Hostage on Ukraine – Russia Conflict 

In March, 26 African states failed to vote in agreement with the UN resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Africa taken Hostage on Ukraine – Russia Conflict

In March of this year, twenty-six African states failed to vote in agreement with the UN resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Seventeen African states abstained from the vote, eight were not present, and Eitrea remained the only African nation to vote against it. Out of the 54 nations that make up Africa, 28 voted in favour of U.N resolution.  In contrast of Africa’s 51%, 81.29% non-African countries represented in the U.N voted in favour of the resolution – and what’s more, only four heads of African states showed up, with the rest sending representatives.

But why is there such a marked divide on the question of Russia-Ukraine, compared to the rest of the world? Why is Africa taken Hostage on Ukraine – Russia Conflict? And what did they have to say about it? 

Memories of Apartheid

For some African nations, their reluctance to take sides in this world-engulfing conflict can be traced back to recent history. When Europe was backing the apartheid government of South Africa, it was Russia, then the Soviet Union – ever the opportunist superpower searching for political and financial hegemony -which provided military training, ammunition and morale to the South African movement fighting to take back their country from the racially discriminatory system of Apartheid headed by the government in Pretoria. 

As veteran South African freedom fighter Obbey Mabena said, speaking to the CNN’s David Mckenzie on the struggle for apartheid, “We had to decide if we wanted to continue living on our knees, or to die fighting.  We found that there is a country like the Soviet bloc that is ready to give us everything that we need. To give us food, uniforms, to give us training, weapons.”

Mackenzie asks, “So these were Russian soldiers treating you with respect?”

“With the greatest of respect, they came there, they were friends with us. For the first time we came across white people who treated us as equal beings …Russia is our friend. Our friend’s enemy is our enemy.”

The response by Ukraine’s most powerful backer, the United States, did not seem to be pleased with the outcome of the African vote on the UN resolution in March, condemning Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. As US ambassador to the African Union Jessica Lapenn said  that, “we look for a strong African response to Russian aggression and welcome the opportunity to partner with Senegal and other Africans on both the response to Russia’s aggression but also to address the implications of it globally”.

Global Food Crisis 

Indeed, that may be the case. In a recent address to the African Union, mirroring earlier attempts to garner support from the continent for Ukraine’s plight, Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky claimed that Africa  had been taken hostage by Russia citing the looming food crisis as shortages of grain and fertiliser to the continent come as a result of Russia’s naval blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea port.

Africa taken Hostage on Ukraine-Russia Conflict-  image of Odessa harbour, Ukraine
Africa taken Hostage on Ukraine-Russia Conflict – Odessa harbour, Ukraine

Before the war began, Russia and Ukraine were Africa’s biggest exporters of wheat, accounting for about 40% of its total exports – currently twenty million tonnes of grain have been left stranded at the Black Sea port of Odessa due to Russia’s naval blockade, ushering in a new crisis for the continent. President Macky Sall, Head of the African Union met with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month to highlight the detrimental effects of the blockade on Africa’s food supply.

While possible, it is more difficult to grow wheat in Africa than other countries due to the climate, and the lack of equipment available for timely harvesting, hence, much of it is imported.

The Red Cross reports that in Africa, “Over 100 million people are struggling without the food that they need.” One of the reasons cited for this is the global rise in prices due to the conflict in Ukraine. 

Divided Loyalties 

But that’s not the only way – nor the least detrimental – that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is hurting Africa. Sanctions aimed at Russia by the West have particularly hurt Africa’s economy, from Russia being one of the main providers of Africa’s defence and military equipment, to Western sanctions halting investment into the Russian economy and impeding billion dollar nuclear energy deals that help provide electricity to many countries in the north of the continent.

That effect has petered out to impact the looming food crisis even further, as the Russian Swift banking system has been suspended by Western states, making it impossible for Africa to pay for its food imports like grain and fertiliser from Russia. Such has been the effect that some have considered diversifying the region’s wheat sources, the first time in years.

China, an ally to Russia in the war, is now Africa’s biggest trade partner.  Speaking to Forbes, Daan Roggeveen,  who writes about urbanisation in China and Africa, said, “Right now you could say that any big project in African cities that is higher than three floors or roads that are longer than three kilometres are most likely being built and engineered by the Chinese. It is ubiquitous.”

And of course, the West provides $134 billion of aid each year.

The foreign minister of South Africa, Naledi Pandor, the UN resolution vote against Russian activity in Ukraine states that, “The response we got was, take it or leave it. And in the face of that arrogance, we thought the only decision we could make was abstain. Perhaps our colleagues in the West don’t understand the fact that we are very weary of aligning to one position or another.”

For a continent in which its loyalties are immensely divided, between its trade partners, food exporters and aid providers, that indeed may be the case.

So perhaps Zelensky’s claim that it is only Russia that has taken Africa hostage- tha     needs to be re-examined. Rather, it seems Africa is being held hostage by the world, as each brings up past favours and debts to coerce the unaligned continent into fighting for their side, in a war that will reap no benefits for the continent itself. And perhaps, like in the past, it will be left struggling in the aftermath without support or compensation.


All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Human Rights

Exclusive: John Pilger claims Julian Assange extradition is bad news for “truth-tellers”

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We spoke to veteran investigative journalist and documentarian John Pilger about what he thought Assange’s looming extradition meant for the state of the press in the UK, and the fate investigative journalists like him

Julian Assange –  the investigative journalist and whistleblower spent the last ten years fighting for freedom after having leaked secret documents regarding US human rights abuses. Most of those years were spent holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in Britain where he was granted asylum by the President of Ecuador Rafael Correa in 2012. 

That asylum ended seven years later when Correa’s replacement, Lenin Moreno handed him over to the British authorities. On the morning of April 11th, 2019, Assange was dragged out of the embassy by British police in a brutal show of force, and taken to be locked up in Belmarsh prison, the detention centre known as the British Guantanamo Bay. He has remained there since.

Last week, Assange’s decade long battle was dealt a blow. British Home Secretary Priti Patel signed Assange’s extradition order to the United States, where he faces 18 federal counts of espionage for publishing secret state documents handed to him by the former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning; documents which exposed the atrocities, human rights abuses and war crimes committed by The United States, its allies, and their forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East. 

Besides this, the documents showed the systematic human rights abuses and torture of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, the controversial U.S Prison located in Cuba that held more than 150 prisoners, who were innocent without charge for years. And most of all, they confirmed that the pretext for the U.S led invasion of Iraq was a farce.

But in a country that lauds itself on its free press, especially when holding up its democratic values against its autocratic Middle-Eastern counterparts, what happens when a journalist exercises his right within the free press and is castigated the way Assange has been and for as long as he has?

“There is no free press as we might imagine or mythologise it. A powerful, almost unconscious self-censorship routinely dominates the media, much of it run or influenced by an augmented extremism called Murdochism. Added to this are draconian laws that constrain our right to know and which allow the ‘intelligence services’ (known in the US as the ‘deep state’) to manipulate the press. Little of this is discussed publicly.”

According to Pilger, it was Julian Assange who “broke down this wall of censorship, on the public’s behalf.” It is no surprise then, that the whistleblower, Manning was pardoned by the US after seven years in prison, while the publisher could face confinement for the rest of his life. Currently, Assange faces up to ten years in prison for each federal count against him. But Assange is an Australian national, and just recently the former foreign minister of Australia, Bobb Carr, wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald that he believed that the Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese, should request the Biden administration for Assange’s freedom.

Pilger affirms that the Australian government should support their citizen, but that “rights and reality live in two different worlds. We should unite them!” 

Despite Carr’s suggestion, Australian Prime Minister publicly affirmed he stood by his previous remarks that Assange had “paid a big price for the publication of the information already” and that “I do not see what purpose is served by the ongoing pursuit of Mr Assange,”  but that he would not publicly ask Biden for a pardon for Assange. Speaking to the broadcaster Sky News, he said “We’re not going to conduct diplomacy by megaphone.” 

But what is it that makes such prominent world leaders so reluctant to directly support the plight of Assange?  For some it is the fact that he published secret state documents through his whistleblower site, Wikileaks. Was this really a violation of the official secret act, as has been alleged, or does the right of the public to know what governments are doing abroad with taxpayers money negate this? Is the country not put at risk when state secrets are made public?

“Wikileaks revealed grave state crimes,” he says, “The law should apply to governments as well as to individuals. Nazi leaders and officials were prosecuted and punished at the end of World War Two because they committed state crimes. The principle is the same.”

If Julian Assange’s team fails in its attempts to appeal and he is sent to the US, what will that entail for him? And what implications will it have on future whistleblowers and investigative journalists?

John Pilger is blunt. “For Julian it will be the end of his life. For truth-tellers, it will mean even greater risk than at present. The shadows of state control will spread until we call, ‘’stop.’

In fact, the veteran journalist is no stranger to censorship of his own work either. In 2014 his regular column for the oft-touted ‘independent’ paper the Guardian was axed, according to Pilger, “Without explanation.”

“I wrote a fortnightly piece for the Guardian which was axed in 2014 with the specious explanation that the paper ‘needed greater variety’: some such nonsense. There were (and are) warring political factions on the Guardian and under a new editor a virulent right-wing took control. At that time, I was writing about the Western-sponsored coup in Ukraine, which had just happened, and the war it beckoned.”

It is a grim state of affairs to which the future of journalism seems to be hurtling towards, painted darker by recent events. What hope does that leave to budding journalists who would wish to pursue a career like that of Pilger’s and other investigative journalists and whistleblowers, like Assange, who in their fearlessness can speak truth and expose the crimes and excesses of those in power? How can the fear of reprisal by the authorities be abated?“Keep going. Be resolute and follow your star. The times are difficult, but there are more independent outlets,online, than when I began. Try and stay away from the mis-named ‘mainstream’ which used to have space for independent minded journalists, but no more. Journalism is a wonderful craft: how it is practised and honoured is up to you.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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