Nazeeha Saeed's speech to the ICORN General Assembly 2 May 2018
Filmed by Karim El-Helaifi
Dear distinguished guests
Mrs Frida Trollmyr, Malmö Deputy Mayor of Culture, Leisure, and Public Health, Mr Chris Gribble, Chair of the ICORN Board, Mrs Birgit van Hout, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Representative for Europe (OHCHR).
Good Afternoon everyone
Thank you ICORN for this opportunity, I’m glad to be here, safe but not silent, I have a roof to sleep under, I have a voice and I continue doing what I used to do in my country but I can’t do anymore there.
I would like to express my sadness, frustration and deepest condolences for the nine journalists who were killed in Kabul, Afghanistan in back-to-back suicide attacks, two days ago.
This is one example of what journalists face while doing their jobs.
“Safe Not Silent” that is the main reason why most of journalists, writers and artists here left their countries for. We seek a safe place to host us and give us a refuge, where we can continue our work, and our voices, pens and brushes will continue to be effective.
Tomorrow, the third of May is the World Press Freedom Day, and we are celebrating it while the media in the world is suffering from lower freedoms every year, and the role of journalists to reveal corruption, violations and repression are threatened and repressed.
Authorities means to imprison, torture and kill journalists sometimes, in order to silence them.
Press plays a prominent role in the political process. The independence of the media is the engine of the public opinion for a more democratic and transparent society. The fight against administrative and financial corruption is a principle. The press contributes to build societies when its independent, and it will be a demolition mechanism when it belongs to a particular authority.
Without an independent media, political, religious and economical authorities will take advantage to spread their power, mislead public opinion, broadcast hate speech and more, basically we will have a dictatorship led by a single group, single power and a single opinion.
“Safe Not Silence”. We leave because we are not safe but we don’t remain silent. We continue to be the voice and the image of what it supposes to be forgotten people and events.
In 2011, a police officer accused me of distorting the image of the country for reporting that a policeman killed a protester. I said I was doing my job. he said that your job is to maintain the image of the country. I was shocked but I kept silent, as I was blindfolded and under torture for the last seven hours.
A shoe was shoved into my mouth. The policewoman said, this shoe is cleaner than my tongue.
While we are here in this room, we have colleagues behind bars, others who are banned from travel or banned from doing their jobs, in trails, scared and threatened.
Being a journalist can be really risky and a source of fear not only for you but to your family, neighborhood and colleagues.
Being a journalist is one of the most challenging jobs, as you are not supposed to be an ally of anyone, but principles of human rights.
Being a journalist is not a crime.
I’m here today, I have a voice and I’m not silent. Thanks to ICORN, the network that provide us an opportunity to live and work away from fear, threats and risks.
Thanks to Paris city, my beautiful new home, for choosing me to be their guest and support me in every way to continue doing my job, my passion and my life.
Thanks for listening to me today and I wish you all a very successful general assembly.
Read more about Nazeeha Saeed: Bahraini journalist Nazeeha Saeed is Paris' new ICORN resident