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Beware those who are at war with the media

Without the media, imperfect as they may be, many terrible injustices against men, women and children would be for ever swept under the carpet by brutally murderous regimes that cling to power by crushing resistance with any method at their disposal. Even in the year 2017, when it is generally thought that technological advances in so many areas have made the world a better place, gruesome acts of unspeakable horror continue against innocent people whose only crime is being guilty of wanting a life of justice and freedom.

After more than a year of intense inquiries, Amnesty International has revealed that a crime similar to incidents in Nazi Germany during the Second World War was uncovered in Syria, with thousands of executions in a military prison — most of them by hanging.

According to reports, the victims were objectors to the Assad dictatorial regime, which has slaughtered thousands to retain power. Obviously, such regimes resent the free press, which is duty-bound to expose events both good and bad.

Those who rebel against the free press — and this seems to be prevalent especially in the political arena — usually have some dark secret they want shielded from public view. The war against the press involves devious ways to discredit the profession by stating untruths as facts to cause confusion and doubt among the people. Journalists have paid with their lives in hostile environments worldwide, telling stories that otherwise would be left in the shadows of despair, suffering and hopelessness.

Most journalists are fully aware of what they are up against when presenting information they know to be facts. They also know that they will be considered the enemy by those who rely on negative rhetoric to promote their objectives.

Journalists would lose credibility if truth was suppressed out of fear of reprisals from those who operate outside of transparency.

With another General Election on the horizon in Bermuda, the public can be expected to ride huge waves of verbal political confrontations on a number of issues as the Government and the Opposition battle to win support in deciding who should be at the helm in steering Bermuda through significant challenges that will fully test our skills and resources.

Amid what is likely to be a stormy atmosphere of allegations and counter-allegations, the public will be relying on the media to sift through political rhetoric to keep truth out front. That is a difficult job in any democracy where opinions vary according to allegiance to this or that group. When emotions build over an issue, usually the issue itself is sidelined, as attacks often have a personal tone that detracts from allowing co-ordination and reason to enter the picture.

Most Bermudians these days, even with devoted allegiances to this or that political group, seem more sensitive to keeping Bermuda's economic infrastructure intact while dealing with differences of opinion on sensitive matters, including the proposed new airport.

Democracy certainly provides the right to object to any government proposal and that right should always be protected. Governments, on the other hand, must always be looking to enhance the quality of life. In doing so, they must also be prepared for scrutiny from opponents, the public and the media.

Since the public will be the final judges of who they feel has the right approach to solving problems, they too need to be aware of people at war with the free press. Too often the public are taken for granted, but that could be dangerous for any politician seeking to gain or maintain office. The public have a way of reading situations and making decisions accordingly.

Bermuda is facing testing times in the months ahead, but as an island community, we have weathered storms before. We did so by putting Bermuda first. We can win if we focus on positive attitudes collectively.

Covering up crimes?: a handout image by Amnesty International shows the military-run Saydnaya prison, one of Syria's largest detention centres located 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of Damascus, in two distinct satellite pictures, one taken on March 3, 2010 (L) and the other of the same taken on September 18, 2016

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Published February 20, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated February 20, 2017 at 7:21 am)

Beware those who are at war with the media

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