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Editorial

Do not Let them Turn back the Clock of History

State hijacking with the aim of kidnapping and possibly executing a ‘problematic’ journalist is something that could possibly have happened in the 1960s, 1970s, and even the 1980s.

Certainly not in the year 2021. The fact that it just happened, with witnesses all over the world, reveals a lot, and raises some basic questions.

The incident shows that state violence, even in its most brutal form, as well as the fascist mentality, continues to this day.

The question is, what is it that makes a head of state, even a dictator, indifferent to such a brutal reaction in international public opinion?

And if this is happening in broad daylight – what is happening in the background?

While hijacking a passenger flight from Belarus is a gross violation of all international law and ethics, it is not the only country declaring war on journalists and the media who are critical of its leaders.

For example, the Erdogan regime has jailed hundreds of journalists and is suffocatingly controlling the media through its pro-regime owners.

But we don’t have to go so far afield: It was recently revealed that the Trump administration was monitoring the Washington Post reporters' telephone conversations.

And just last week it was revealed that Trump was also monitoring the telephone and other communications of the CNN correspondent at the Pentagon.

To do this, the former administration relied on a ‘National Security’ law that came into force decades ago.

A similar anti-espionage law was used as a cover by Belarus for the hijacking and kidnapping of a journalist.

It is therefore no coincidence that in conjunction with the economic crisis facing the media, the control exercised by governments over them further reduces their independence.

This incident has all the elements of a good script for a thriller movie:

A typical flight with almost 150 passengers makes a planned trip.

Everything looks normal – but one of the passengers, a journalist, just 26-years-old, is an ‘enemy’ of his country's regime.

The authorities of his country place him on a terrorist list – and the penalty for terrorists is death.

This young man is visiting Greece to participate in a conference.

However, it seems that he is being watched by secret agents of his country (of course without the knowledge of the Greek authorities) who inform their colleagues that he has boarded the flight.

The news reaches the president of the country, who orders a warplane to force the flight’s landing at the airport of his country's capital, under the pretext that there is an issue of plane safety.

The young journalist realizes immediately after the pilot announced the change of destination that this was the equivalent of a death sentence for him – but there was nothing he could do.

The journalist and his girlfriend were absent when the plane left the Belarus capital after seven hours.

Their fate has been unknown ever since.

The indifference of the dictator of Belarus to the expected reaction of the population of his country and the international public for the outrageous way he acted is probably unprecedented.

And that is extremely worrying. He obviously knows that after the condemnatory statements of the representatives of various governments, in a few days the case will be forgotten.

By then, another issue will be occupying the minds of the public.

The U.S. Secretary of State issued a harsh statement demanding the release of the journalist.

The European Union will do something similar.

And since everyone will have a clear conscience that they have done their duty, they will continue with their lives.

But if they do not apply strict measures against the dictator and his regime, they will not achieve anything. And this will be attempted by others, who will use the same alibi for their own similar acts.

It is said that the dictator of Belarus had secured the approval of the Russian President to carry out this act.

Something that is quite possible. While Putin has not yet reached the extreme of hijacking and kidnapping a journalist, his stifling control of his country's media is proverbial.

But that does not absolve the West of its responsibilities.

The issue is very serious and goes far beyond the situation in Belarus.

It is a matter of freedom and democracy and the application of international law.

It would be tragic if anachronistic dictators are allowed to turn the clock of history back to dark decades, when freedom of speech and the press were not guaranteed and struggles were required to secure them.

It is our duty to not allow this to happen. 

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