Letter To The Editor:
Today marks the fifth anniversary of the murder of the Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.
Although there have been recent developments in the investigation of her murder, 5 years on however, the perpetrators and the ones who ordered her murder have still not been brought to justice. The impunity continues.
We the undersigned are all supporters of the human rights organisation RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in War). Yesterday evening we presented the annual Anna Politkovskaya Award, set up to recognise women defending human rights in zones of war and conflict, often at great personal risk, to Razan Zaitouneh (Syria).
This year’s winner is a brave young woman who has courageously spoken out about the atrocities currently facing the people of her country.
Her determination to speak the truth has forced her into hiding as well as the detention and torture of her family members.
Because of the strict ban imposed on foreign journalists and human rights advocates Razan Zaitouneh has valiantly spoken out against the regime so intent on silencing her. She lives a life of courage and truth-telling in the face of grave danger, as Anna did.
Razan Zaitouneh has become an essential voice representing the heart and soul of the people protesting, aiming for peace and freedom in Syria. We honour Razan Zaitouneh because of her selfless need to bring international attention to those unable to have the world's ear.
A human rights lawyer and journalist, she risks her life speaking to international media and reporting on her information website – SHRIL, in order to bring attention to the plight of the Syrians and the violence that occurs on a daily basis. She speaks of the security apparatus that kills unarmed civilians, the tanks that destroy cities and towns and the military forces that show unspeakable brutality to women and children. We pledge our ongoing support and solidarity for Razan Zaitouneh.
Last year, we presented the award to Dr Halima Bashir, a young and brave woman, a trained medical doctor, who risked her life to speak the truth about human rights violations in her home of Darfur (Sudan). In October 2007 we presented the first annual Anna Politkovskaya Award to Natalia Estemirova for her courage in seeking and telling the truth about the torture, disappearance and murder of civilians in Chechnya. We were shocked and outraged by the killing of Natalia on July 15th 2009. To date, no one has been brought to justice for her murder.
We call again on the Russian government to bring to justice those who killed Anna and Natalia and their colleagues, and to end the killings of journalists and human rights defenders in the Russian Federation. We call on the world’s leaders to pledge to do everything in their power to protect the journalists and human rights defenders who work in areas of war and conflict.
We owe it to the memory of Anna and Natalia to protect the very few who continue to speak out on behalf of those who are still not listened to or heard."
Nobel Women’s Initiative, Mairead Maguire, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Betty Williams, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Tatiana Yankelevich, Vaclav Havel, Desmond Tutu, Jon Snow, John Pilger, Amy Goodman, Jeremy Bowen, Andre Glucksmann, Gloria Steinem, Sergey Kovalyov, Alexei Simonov, Vladimir Bukovsky, Svetlana Gannushkina, Lyudmila Alekseeva, Karinna Moskalenko, Malalai Joya, Halima Bashir, Leila Alikarami, Gillian Slovo, Eva Hoffman, Adam Michnik, Oleg Panfilov, Tom Stoppard, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Natasha Kandic, Elisabeth Rehn, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Mariane Pearl, Azar Nafisi, Asma Jahangir, Carl Gershman, Hina Jilani, Susan Sarandon, Jane Birkin, Sophie Shihab, Naomi Klein, Sister Helen Prejean, Ariel Dorfman, Vanessa Redgrave, Eve Ensler, Michael Cunningham, John Sweeney, Jonathan Schell, Noam Chomsky, Marina Litvinenko, Lucy Ash, Sussan Deyhim, Heidi Bradner, Desmond O'Malley, Anne Nivat, Annabel Markova, Frank Judd, Nicolas Rea, Anthony Giddens, Nazir Ahmed, Mukesh Kapila CBE, Molly Meacher, Vivien Stern, Helena Kennedy QC, Yakin Erturk, Elena Kudimova, Andrey Nekrasov, Meglena Kuneva, Peter Gabriel, Stina Scott, Anna Stavitskaya, Dubravka Ugresic, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Victor Navasky, Aidan White, Holly Near, Elizabeth Frank, Elizabeth Kostova, Bill Bowring, Irena Grudzinska Gross, Jenny Diski, Monica Ali, Isa Blyden, Nayereh Tohidi, Claire Bertschinger, Tsvetana Maneva, and others.