JAG TRUST PRESS RELEASE dated Sunday 27 November 2005
The Justice for Agriculture Trust is appalled at the cold-blooded murder
of yet another of Zimbabwe's few remaining productive commercial farmers.
The Trust finds the nature of this killing particularly abhorrent at this
time of Zimbabwe's acute humanitarian food plight and foreign currency
shortages. If nothing else, at the very least, this latest murder of a
commercial farmer highlights, during these difficult times, the abject
breakdown of the rule of law in Zimbabwe's commercial farming areas.
Mr Donald (Don) Stuart (68), a dairy farmer and horticultural vegetable
producer in the Norton/Harare West farming area, was viciously and brutally
assaulted by a gang of intruders prior to his murder by strangulation in
the early hours of this morning.
Mr Stuart's homestead on Ngwarati Farm was one of the country's most secure
and extensively protected homesteads, with security measures and alarm
systems. The gang gained access through the removal of tiles from the
homestead roof. After the viciously brutal assault and subsequent murder
the gang had time to destroy evidence by covering the body with mattresses,
dousing them with petrol siphoned from farm vehicles and then torching
the homestead. Very little, if anything, in the way of substantial
property or vehicles seems to have been removed from the homestead. Some
personal items of clothing have subsequently been recovered away from the
Don Stuart is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter. Dave, the
elder son, is involved in operations on the farm and is determined to
continue farming. Mrs Stuart was away on holiday in the United Kingdom at
the time of Don's murder.
The JAG Trust and JAG Membership Association extend their sincere sympathy
and condolences to the Stuart family over their tragic loss and the loss to
The JAG Trust calls on the responsible Zimbabwean authorities, especially
the law enforcement agencies, to return commercial farming areas
countrywide to: the rule of law; respect for property rights; and, above
all else, absolute respect for all human rights.
Mon 28 November 2005
Rosemary Goto (ZANU-PF) 20 073
Egypt Dzinemunhenzva (MDC) 3 585
Virginia Muchenje (ZANU PF) 16 754
Emily Masimba (MDC) 2 777
Tambudzai Mohadi (ZANU PF) 9 856
Alfred Magama (MDC) 1 7 29
Alma Mukwebu (ZANU PF) 9 104
Readus Tlou (MDC) 5 507 votes.
Eunice Moyo (ZANU PF) 9 310
Tapela Lotho (MDC) 9 289
Annanias Sithomi (ZANU-PF) 15 765
David Ndukwana (MDC) 10 723
Tobias Matanga (ZANU PF) 36 516
Wilson Khumbula (ZANU) 10 765
Phone Madiro (ZANU-PF) 19 630
Canciwell Nziramasanga (MDC) 5 428
Dzikamai Mavhaire (ZANU PF) 20 451
Hilda Sibanda (MDC) 3 174
Anthony Kundishora (Independent) 2 661.
Vivian Mwashita (ZANU-PF) 19 046
Alois Mudaingwa (MDC) 4 152
Sipiwe Mupini (ZANU) 258
Mike Duro (ZIYA) 110
Simon Mandiveyi (Independent) 247
Forbes Magadu (ZANU-PF) 10 653
Shake Maya (MDC) 2 673
Chichai Gumbura (ZANU-PF) 8 278
Frank Chamunorwa (MDC) 2 229
Mathias Guchutu (MOP-CD) 100
Wilbroad Kanoti (ZIYA) 78
Rita Ndlovu (MDC) 4 188
Dumiso Dabengwa (ZANU-PF) 3 276
Pelandaba - Mpopoma constituency
Greenfield Nyoni (MDC) 1 974
Tryphinia Nhliziyo (ZANU-PF) 1 688
Thabiso Ndlovu (MDC) 2 670
Sithembiso Nyoni (ZANU-PF) 1 394
Msipa Sibangalizwe (MDC) 3 947
Malinga Joshua Teke (ZANU- PF) 2 258
Pumula Luveve constituency
Fanuel Bayayi (MDC) 2 876
Lot Senda (ZANU-PF) 1 550
Jethro Mkwananzi (ZAPU-FP) 213
Results of the Electoral College of Chiefs are as follows:
Manicaland Province - Chief Chiduku
Mashonaland Central - Chief Negomo
Mashonaland East - Chief Musarurwa
Mashonaland West - Chief Nemakonde
Masvingo - Chief Sengwe
Matabeleland North - Chief Matshane
Matabeleland South - Chief Maduna
Midlands - Chief Gambiza
Chief Nemakonde of |Mashonaland West, Chief Sengwe of Masvingo
Province and Chief Maduna of Matabeleland South were all nominated
unopposed. The President of Chief's Council, Chief Charumbira and his Deputy
Chief Malaba automatically qualify into the Senate. - ZimOnline
27/11/2005 18:14 - (SA)
Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's party won a huge majority in
polls for a revived upper house of parliament, though voter turnout was low,
the country's election commission said on Sunday.
Zanu-PF won 31 of the 36 senate seats whose results were announced after
The five other seats went to the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) in the southern province of Matabeleland.
Results are still pending for 14 seats in the 66-member chamber.
The ruling party also benefits from six senators who are directly appointed
by Mugabe and 10 traditional chiefs elected in separate polls earlier are
generally seen as being pro-Zanu-PF.
Voter apathy on Saturday was reported across the country and thereby widely
expected to hand a huge victory to Zanu-PF, consolidating its 25-year grip
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who had called for a boycott, dismissed the
polls as a "non-event" and boasted that the electorate had heeded his call
to stay away.
Officials and police outnumbered voters at most polling stations in the
capital Harare and the second largest city of Bulawayo, while other places
were all but deserted.
The senate was re-introduced in August when the ruling party, enjoying a
two-thirds majority from the March parliamentary polls, pushed through
Sun Nov 27, 2005 5:30 PM GMT
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By MacDonald Dzirutwe
HARARE (Reuters) - Most of Zimbabwe's electorate, struggling with an
imploding economy and uncertain about the poll's significance, chose not to
vote in an election for a new Senate won by the ruling party before a ballot
Observers said the average voter turn-out in Saturday's election could end
up at about 15 percent of the country's 3.2 million registered voters.
President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party began the election as a sure winner,
with 35 of the 66 seats already reserved for them. The main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had called a boycott of the poll it
said was aimed at solidifying Mugabe's grip on power.
Sunday's results showed ZANU-PF had won 12 of the 17 seats announced,
including four in Harare province, a traditional MDC stronghold and in rural
constituencies where it enjoys majority support. More results are expected
later on Sunday.
The Senate will have the power to approve or reject bills passed by the
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a local group that fights for free
and fair elections, said most people had stayed away because they were not
aware of the role of the Senate.
"This re-emphasises ZESN's concerns on the ill-timing of the senatorial
elections which comes (against) the backdrop of an imploding economy and a
political crisis," the group said in a statement seen by Reuters on Sunday.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Sunday the voters had vindicated his
call to boycott the poll.
"We were proved right in our assessment of the national sentiment,"
"We must change gears from discredited election processes that bring pain to
our people to an era of democratic mass confrontation with the
dictatorship -- an era of non violent mass resistance," he said, adding that
the MDC should set aside its internal squabbles to demand a new
MDC SPLIT WIDENS
Although voters appeared to be in line with Tsvangirai's sympathies, a
faction of his own party disagreed with him enough to field candidates.
MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube's splinter group fielded 26 candidates,
mostly in the southwestern Matabeleland provinces. They took five seats in
the Bulawayo metropolitan province.
Tsvangirai said members who participated in Saturday's poll remained
expelled from the party and scoffed at attempts by his senior lieutenants to
suspend him from the MDC because of his boycott call, saying they had no
He said MDC deputy leader Gibson Sibanda, who in the past accused him of
flouting the party's constitution, wrote a letter last week declaring he was
"The MDC constitution allows nobody except congress to suspend or dismiss
the president," Tsvangirai said.
The 81-year-old Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe uninterrupted for 25 years, and
many of his critics blame his controversial policies for ruining one of
Africa's most promising economies.
Mugabe denies the charge and says he is pursuing nationalistic policies
meant to benefit Zimbabwe's black majority who suffered during British
THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN
-- statement by Morgan Tsvangirai, the President of the MDC, at the
conclusion of the Senatorial elections.
The MDC notes the decisive boycott of yesterday's election by millions of
Zimbabwean voters. I, on behalf of the MDC, would like to thank Zimbabweans
for heeding our call for the boycott of this meaningless election.
The decision made by millions of Zimbabweans yesterday is a decisive
statement against any piecemeal and half-baked approach to the national
By staying away from yesterday's polls, Zimbabweans issued a loud cry
against unemployment, poverty, starvation and the crisis in the social
Yes, yesterday's call was as much about the demand for food and jobs as much
as it was a demand for a new people-driven Constitution, free and fair
elections and an end to dictatorship, corruption and the cruelty we are
suffering under this regime. We have been vindicated. We were proved right
in our assessment of the national sentiment. Yes, this was a vote of no
confidence in Zanu PF and its allies. That vote of no confidence shows the
power balance in this country. The MDC is with the people and understands
the national pulse. Our message was well received. Yesterday's boycott
demands of the MDC leadership a major paradigm shift that focuses purely on
resolving the national crisis and attention to Constitutional and legitimate
forms of pressurizing the regime to accept a new road map to change,
premised on a new Constitution.
We must change gears from discredited election processes that bring pain to
our people to an era of democratic mass confrontation with the
dictatorship - an era of non-violent mass resistance. That is the way
forward. I acknowledge, however, that not only a strong and united MDC can
provide the necessary leadership that meets up to the new challenge and the
Events since the 12th of October 2005 have shown that they are now
irreconcilable differences in our party between those who look at the
broader picture and mass approach that seeks genuine resolution of the
crisis and a narrow, parochial clique that sees the struggle from a
standpoint of personal gain, salaries and personal perks. The struggle has
no room for opportunists. The freedom train will drop unnecessary garbage.
The results of yesterday reflect the myopia and narrow-minded folly of the
thinking of some of my colleagues of yester-year -- the same who are still
bent on causing confusion to our people. In this regard, let me make
reference to an unfortunate attempt to suspend me from the leadership of
this party through a letter dated 24 November 2005 written by my deputy,
The MDC Constitution allows nobody except Congress to suspend or dismiss the
President. Resorting to unconstitutional tactics that play in the hands of
Zanu PF reflects the desperate and immature state of mind gripping my
erstwhile comrades. We are therefore referring this matter to the people
through the national Council and subsequently to our national Congress. We
shall not be detracted from our main objective. We shall not yield on
matters of principle. We will confront the dictatorship and bring about
change to all Zimbabweans that is long overdue as it is deserved.
I thank you.
November 27, 2005, 20:30
Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's main opposition leader, has scoffed at
attempts by his senior lieutenants to suspend him from the party because of
his call to boycott senate elections, saying they had no such powers.
Tsvangirai called a boycott of yesterday's controversial senate poll which
he said was aimed at solidifying the hold on power by Robert Mugabe, the
president, and rigged in advance to secure a ruling party win.
However, the boycott was rejected by some senior MDC officials who went on
to field candidates in some constituencies, dividing a party that has posed
the biggest threat to Mugabe's rule over the last six years. Some analysts
have said the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) may never regain its
previous strength after repeated government crackdowns, a series of poll
defeats and the latest rift over the senate election.
The latest dispute over Tsvangirai's continuation as its leader was yet
another setback for the group. Tsvangirai said Gibson Sibanda, the MDC
deputy leader, who in the past accused his boss of flouting the party's
constitution, wrote a letter last week declaring he was suspended. However,
Tsvangirai dismissed the move, saying only the party's congress due next
year was vested with such powers.
"The MDC constitution allows nobody except congress to suspend or dismiss
the president," Tsvangirai told reporters at a news conference on the
outcome of the election, which Mugabe's ruling Zanu(PF) is certain to win.
"Resorting to unconstitutional tactics that play in the hands of Zanu(PF)
reflects the desperate and immature state of mind gripping my erstwhile
Tsvangirai said there were "irreconcilable differences" between those who
supported a boycott of the senate poll and the camp that fielded candidates,
led by Welshman Ncube, the MDC secretary general. He charged that officials
who supported participation were driven by self interest. "The struggle has
no room for opportunists. The freedom train will drop unnecessary
garbage." - Reuters
From The Sunday Independent (SA), 27 November
By Caroline Hooper-Box
Some time ago a friend recommended a house painter, a Zimbabwean man called
Between Siziba. I called Between on his cellphone, and we arranged to meet
at my flat. He was exceptionally polite, soft-spoken, precise: after
examining every surface, he wrote down a list of supplies I'd require, the
amount of paint and a suggestion for the best place to get them. He then
meticulously unscrewed every nail, light and bathroom fitting, sanding door
frames and skirting boards, filling holes and chips with Polyfilla that he
had brought along himself, and waterproofing all the surfaces. A friend,
Raymond Mdlonga, came along to help with scraping paint off the windows,
splashed onto the glass in a careless job done years ago. Between arrived at
exactly the same time every morning, and I started to look forward to seeing
him when I returned from work. This was because he emanated a gentleness and
calm, and I also liked to hear him talk about his family back in Zimbabwe.
He spoke of them with such love and concern.
Between said he had a work permit, and was getting permanent-residence
permit soon. He would then arrange for his family to join him in
Johannesburg. His son was clever, he said, and it would be good for him to
go to school here. Between had been trained by an architect for whom he had
worked, and he did a beautiful job. A few months later, in July, Raymond
rang my door bell. Between had phoned from the Lindela deportation centre to
say he had been arrested and was going to be deported to Zimbabwe. His wife
and children had been visiting him for the school holidays at his flat in
Yeoville, and were waiting for him to return. The bribe to get Between out
of Lindela was R700, Raymond explained, and he was going to each of
Between's clients, collecting the money. I handed over my share, and every
now and then I'd phone Between, but I always got his voicemail. Four months
passed. Then, this week, Between arrived at my front door again, with a
young man beside him. I remembered Between as being powerfully built but now
he was very thin. He seemed smaller than I remembered.
He introduced the young man accompanying him as his wife's brother, who
wanted to see Johannesburg and do some work. They were visiting all the
people who had raised the money to get Between out of Lindela, to thank
them. Out of a battered bag he pulled a carved animal, a buffalo made from a
baobab root that he had brought from Zimbabwe to give to me. Then he told me
the story of what had happened to him. After he'd finished the job for me,
he'd moved on to others, and had been introduced to a new client. Things
were going well, and he was planning to bring his family to Johannesburg for
Christmas. They had come the year before, but the end of that year had been
quiet work-wise, and he'd not even had enough money to take his children to
the zoo. This time round, however, he believed things would be different,
because he had a lot of work. Every day after Between finished work, he'd
return home to Yeoville, and then go to the gym across the road from where
he lived. One evening in July, walking to the gym, he was held up by two men
who ordered him to hand over everything he had.
"I don't know you, why should I do that?" he'd asked. Then one of them
showed him a gun. They took his passport and cellphone. Between walked
straight to the police station to report the crime and to ask for an
affidavit saying that his passport and papers inside it had been stolen. The
police told him that they would not give him an affidavit, and also refused
to record the crime. The next morning, Between set out to travel to the
department of home affairs to have his work permit replaced. He knew that
the police often set up roadblocks for minibus taxis around his area, to
catch illegal immigrants. So he walked for a long time, but when he passed
Rosebank, he took a taxi to the Randburg home affairs office. There was a
police roadblock outside the Randburg taxi rank. He explained that he was on
his way to get his papers reissued because he had been mugged. But the
police did not believe him, he said, and they loaded him and others into a
van and took him to Lindela.
Between had a photocopy of his work permit, which he showed to a home
affairs official at Lindela, explaining that he had been arrested in error.
The official tore up the copy and threw it away - probably, according to
Between, because the man wanted the requisite bribe. In the meantime, he was
unable to find anyone willing to let him use a phone to call his wife. She
spent the night with their son and daughter in Yeoville unable to sleep,
wondering what had happened to him. Eventually the news got out and the
money got to Between. He thought about handing it over for the bribe, but
decided not to. "What if I did that and then they arrested me again the next
day? I needed that money for my children. I decided to do it properly and
get the papers again," he told me. In the four months that he was in
Zimbabwe, he managed to send a bit of money to his Johannesburg landlord,
for rent, but not all the money he owed. He told me that the situation in
Zimbabwe was very bad. "Many people have hardly anything to eat. Zimbabweans
believe that it is bad to go to sleep with an empty stomach, so many eat
nothing the whole day, just supper." He had lived at his place in Yeoville
for four years, always paying the rent, but when he got back this week,
someone else was in his room. His landlord has taken Between's things - and
wants the missing rent before he will return them.
Between has an emergency passport, but says home affairs won't reissue his
work permit or process his permanent residence documentation on emergency
documents. So he must wait. It takes at least six months for a Zimbabwean
passport to be reissued. In the meantime, he has arranged passports for his
wife, son and daughter, and also one for his new baby son, who is two months
old. They will join him when his permanent residence comes through. Someone
lent him R200 for the week, and Between has started painting again. On
Tuesday he bought a bag filled with soap: baby soap for his new son, and
Sunlight for washing nappies. He was going to Park Station, he told me, to
find someone catching a bus to Zimbabwe. He would ask them to take the soap
back as a favour. Children are very sensitive, Between explained to me. "My
son is only seven years old. When I told him what had happened to me, he
cried. To have a family, you must give a lot of love. It's hard work, but
you must give as much as you can." He said that he believes everything will
be okay. But it doesn't look like he will be able to take his children to
the zoo this year.
From Time, 26 November
Why strong institutions matter most when once promising politicians start to
By Simon Robinson
For brutal honesty on the causes of Africa's woes, it's hard to beat Chinua
Achebe's The Trouble with Nigeria. Written during the country's rowdy 1983
election campaign, the book, just 68 pages long, is an outpouring of
frustration at Nigeria's problems. You only have to read the contents page
to tap into Achebe's angst. The author - best known for Things Fall Apart, a
powerful work of fiction that almost half a century after its release still
tops lists of Africa's greatest novels - uses blunt prose to deliver the
message in Trouble. Chapter headings telegraph his views: "False Image of
Ourselves"; "Social Injustice and the Cult of Mediocrity"; "Indiscipline";
"Corruption." Achebe lays out his case in the book's very first sentence:
"The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership."
Many Nigerians agreed, and Africans across the continent reached similar
conclusions about their own countries. Which is why, in the mid-1990s, when
a new generation of leaders emerged, Africans dared to hope that things
could finally be changing. People like Issaias Afewerki in Eritrea, Laurent
Kabila in Democratic Republic of Congo, Paul Kagame in Rwanda, Yoweri
Museveni in Uganda and Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia promised a new style of
leadership that focused on building economies and democratic nations instead
of shoring up their power by force and ensuring that they and their friends
When President Bill Clinton visited Africa in 1998, he touted this
generation as Africa's great hope. The reality has rarely matched the hype.
Within months of Clinton's visit, Rwanda and Uganda had invaded Congo, and
Eritrea and Ethiopia had gone to war with each other. While some leaders -
notably Museveni and Zenawi - still did enough to remain darlings of Western
donors, even they have now begun to slide. In Ethiopia, Zenawi has sent
troops onto the streets to stop opposition supporters protesting the results
of a general election last May. In Uganda, an increasingly dictatorial
Museveni announced two weeks ago that he will run for office again,
following Parliament's decision to scrap term limits that would have forced
him to retire. That long-expected bulletin came just days after his main
opponent was thrown in prison on charges - vehemently denied - of treason
and rape. Demonstrations have been temporarily banned.
So, Achebe's lament still holds true, then? No. Fixing Africa was never as
simple as changing its leaders. And that's why the fall from grace of
Museveni and Zenawi may prove a positive thing, even if they hurt their own
countries in the short term. It's a reminder, especially to Western
countries that invested so much in Africa's new leaders, that strong
institutions are far more important than personalities. Good leaders can
turn bad if they stay in office long enough: faults become obvious; people
compromise to hold onto power; supporters get frustrated with the inevitable
slow pace of change. It's not just Africa. There are plenty of erstwhile
supporters of Tony Blair who would be happy to see the back of him. The same
goes for one-time fans of Jacques Chirac and George Bush. A key difference
is that the institutions in the countries those men lead - parliament, the
judiciary, the press - are bigger than any one person and counterbalance the
worst excesses. That's still not a given in Africa. Take Zimbabwe. Even five
years ago, the country boasted one of the best judiciaries in Africa. Voters
could make their voices heard, as they did in 2000 when they rejected a new
constitution backed by President Robert Mugabe. The independent press was
amongst the feistiest on the continent. Over the past few years, though,
Mugabe and his henchmen have bludgeoned the opposition into near submission,
rigged elections, closed down the independent press and forced most of the
country's best judges into retirement. Mugabe, once hailed as a great new
African leader himself, has proved more powerful than his country's
There is progress, of course. Kenyans last week rejected a new constitution
backed by lackluster President Mwai Kibaki - elected just three years ago in
a wave of reformist zeal - because of concerns that the proposals vested too
much power in his office. (Kibaki promptly sacked his entire Cabinet.)
Voters in Ghana, Senegal and Zambia have all elected opposition parties
since the turn of the century. Such peaceful shifts prove that institutions
in some countries are becoming strong enough to survive change and are not
merely dependent upon, or at the mercy of, whoever sits in the presidential
palace. Ethiopia and Uganda are also vastly better off than they were before
Zenawi and Museveni took power; the backsliding hasn't wrecked all the good
work the men have done. But their tainted legacies are a lesson. "A leader's
no-nonsense reputation might induce a favorable climate but in order to
effect lasting change, it must be followed up with a radical program of
social and economic reorganization," writes Achebe in The Trouble with
Nigeria. In other words, good leaders are good, but strong institutions are
First published: Saturday, November 26, 2005
If we're really lucky, we occasionally encounter certain people who
make us feel really small -- not because they are overbearing or powerful,
but simply by the force of their integrity and grit, making whatever we're
doing seem so minuscule by comparison.
So I must tell you about Galima Bukharbaeva and Lucio Flavio Pinto,
about Beatrice Mtetwa and Shi Tao, and about 42 other people whose names I
won't be able to fit into this column space. I must tell you why they are my
heroes, and why they have shaken up the comfortable little world where I
But first, a scene from that comfortable world: A black-tie dinner at
the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan this week, attended by hundreds of
journalists, including those whose work has brought them power or celebrity.
Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather were there, and so were the editors of The Wall
Street Journal and Newsweek. Rensselaerville's Andy Rooney escorted Ruth
Friendly, the widow of Fred Friendly, the CBS executive portrayed by George
Clooney in the popular movie, "Good Night, and Good Luck." It was a pretty
The occasion was the International Press Freedom Awards Dinner,
sponsored by the Committee to Protect Journalists, a group that documents
and fights violations of press freedom around the world. The dinner is a
fund-raiser for CPJ, but the big event is the recognition of several people
each year who have covered important stories at risk to themselves or under
Stress, of course, ranges pretty widely across journalists'
experiences. To an American newspaper editor, stress is a phone call from an
angry reader or a budget that doesn't fund as many newsroom jobs as the
editor wants. Stress is what I feel when one of the daily crossword puzzles
is accidentally left off the page or another paper beats us to a good story.
To Galima Bukharbaeva, a journalist from Uzbekistan, stress came one
day last spring when a bullet fired by government troops tore through her
backpack, piercing her notebook and press pass, as she covered a
demonstration that turned into a massacre of a thousand unarmed civilians.
Her reporting on torture and repression of critics by Uzbeki secret police
left her facing almost certain imprisonment and torture herself, so she fled
the country, and continues to speak out about what is happening in her
Lucio Flavio Pinto, a Brazilian, confronts a different type of stress
as a result of the corruption he details in the Amazon, home to land
speculators and drug traffickers and the crooked politicians who protect
them. He has been beaten and threatened and now spends most of his time
defending himself against frivolous legal action that could end his career
or leave him locked up for years.
Beatrice Mtetwa isn't a journalist, but rather a lawyer who defends
the threatened press of Zimbabwe. At great personal risk, she has stood up
to the repressive regime of Robert Mugabe, which in 2003 shut down the
nation's last independent newspaper. Her brave stance for the rule of law
led to her being nearly strangled to death by police two years ago.
As for Shi Tao, we're not quite sure what he is doing right now. He is
serving a 10-year sentence in China because he wrote political commentary
about Chinese leaders on a Web site, including a posting revealing a
propaganda department memo that told the media how to cover the 15th
anniversary of the slaughter in Tiananmen Square. His imprisonment is a
warning to journalists who vainly hope an Internet service provider will
protect their identities from governments that don't respect free speech.
Those four people, honored at the glittering awards dinner in New York this
week, are lucky, in a way, because they're alive. So far this year, 42
journalists have been killed while doing their jobs -- in most cases, in
fact, because they were doing their jobs. Some were Iraq war combat
casualties, but murder remains the leading cause of work-related deaths
among journalists worldwide.
Stress? Sure, the practice of journalism anywhere has its own pressures. But
in a column that tries to explain how and why this newspaper gives you the
journalism it does, let's pause to look further, to honor some brave people
who risk so much just so the rest of us can gain a true view of the world
beyond our own experience.
Rex Smith is editor of the Times Union.