worldwide reading for Freedom of the Press and in Memory of Jamal Khashoggi
On December 10, 1948, 70 years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was announced by the United Nations General Assembly at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris. On this anniversary, the international literature festival berlin (ilb) calls upon individuals, institutions, universities, schools, and media who value freedom of the press and human rights to organize and participate in a worldwide reading in memory of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The last time Khashoggi was seen alive was when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. After nearly three weeks of silence, Saudi Arabia admitted that he died there during a fight with Saudi officials. However, the evidence – such as the deployment of a fifteen-member team of security officers including a forensic scientist – indicates that the murder of Khashoggi was planned well in advance or, at the very least, accepted. The involvement of the highest levels of the Saudi Arabian government, including the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is very likely, since such an action against a prominent critic of the regime would hardly be undertaken without the approval of the royal family. Until now, Saudi Arabia has not offered any clues about the location of Khashoggi’s body. The initiators of the worldwide reading demand the complete and transparent truth about the events that transpired. The responsible parties must be held accountable.
In the last text written by the 59-year-old (he would have celebrated his sixtieth birthday on October 13, 2018) Saudi journalist, which the Washington Post published two weeks after his disappearance, Khashoggi emphatically calls for freedom of expression in the Arab world. His firm stance has now cost the journalist his life.
This murder is the climax of a series of oft-unsolved murders of male and female journalists in recent years, as seen by recent cases in Mexico, Bulgaria, Malta, and Slovakia. Freedom of the press and freedom of expression, the indispensability of which Khashoggi emphasized with regard to the Arab world, is under threat everywhere, including in Europe. Consequently, journalists and political dissidents, even those in exile, are no longer safe, as this case blatantly shows. Jamal Khashoggi is simply the most prominent victim thus far. Many murders against journalists do not even reach the attention of the world public. We also remember that in Turkey, too, freedom of the press is extremely restricted. Over 150 journalists and authors are imprisoned, with some serving lifelong sentences.