When journalists cry [Archives:2003/664/Viewpoint]

September 1 2003

Ever wonder when a journalist can come to the stage when he would break down and cry? Ever thought that writers who have been in this business for tens of years could end up in tears one day?
It is not easy to visualize a grown up man working as a journalist shedding tears in silence. That would be the most horrific thing that could ever happen to any man, let a lone a well-known writer.
To tell you the truth, it is heartbreaking to know that there are, were, and will always be journalists who cry out of sadness and despair. Ever imagine having your most beloved person, let's say your only child, taken away from you? How would you feel then? Wouldn't you cry in silence in an emotional moment of sadness and total frustration?
Well, journalists are humans too, and they cry when the closest thing to their heart is taken away, i.e., their pen.
Yes, the most severe punishment that could ever be imposed on a journalist or writer is to deprive him from writing. They talk about human rights and liberties and the need to protect them, yet many forget that the right to express and write is a fundamental human right as well.
When reading our own press and publications law, I noticed a sober and frustrating sentence in article (106) of the Penal Provisions section saying “The court may order the prohibition of continued practice of the profession of journalism.”
We do admit that there are other penalties including closure of newspapers, imprisonment, and fines. But in case of closure of a newspaper, another can be opened with the same staffers but with a different name. Imprisonment and fines are all temporary. But to sentence a writer to not write again is total destruction. It simply means a death sentence.
How on earth could Arab regimes accept to have a journalist deprived all his life, from writing simply because he wrote his own opinion? How can a country like Yemen, which signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, approve such a terrible punishment?
I am only saying this because I know what a journalist feels when he is prevented from writing, and I personally found a journalist of mine who was subject to this article and asked him, “What did you feel when you knew that you could never write again?” All he said was, “I cried
Our Arab regimes have become so oppressive that they could become so strict in their punishment and disregard any human values whatsoever. They preferred to destroy others' lives and erase the ambitions and dreams of journalists in one simple verdict preventing them from writing again. This goes beyond any torture that could ever be imposed on a journalist.
Some readers may feel I am exaggerating, but unless they put themselves in a faithful journalist's shoes they will never understand, because taking away a journalist's pen could not only make him cry, but it is like taking away his soul.
It is a pity that oppression in our countries has unfortunately reached that far. History will never forget the day when those regimes made their countries' journalists cry behind closed doors in silence.