Anna Politkovskaya was an investigative journalist who was shot dead on the 7th October 2006. A few nights ago, I went to see “A letter to Anna”, a documentary film about the work and death of Anna. She had written extensively on torture and human rights abuses across Russia but particularly in the North Caucasus. Often her writing would have a member of authority as the villain in the story exposing scandals within the highest enclaves of society.
She knew that she worked in constant danger but continued because of her belief in telling the truth. She was a truly remarkable person who lived in truly remarkable danger. In 2004 on her way to cover the Beslan hostages situation she fell mysteriously ill on the flight on the way there. She came close to dying that day and many of her friends suspected poisoning. The threats and attacks she suffered and her eventual death, is unfortunately, not a rarity amongst journalists in the Russian Federation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_journalists_killed_in_Russia). This Wikipedia page highlights the point.
The problem does not stop at individual cases such as Anna’s. There is wide spread de facto impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes. This has left an environment where journalists and human rights defenders work in constant danger. Irene Khan of Amnesty International directly correlated the impunity that is allowed for these crimes with many recent deaths, including the death of Natalia Estemirova (http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/human-rights-activist-natalia-estemirova-murdered-in-russia-20090716).
The Russian and Chechnayan authorities need to highlight in the public domain how they intend to investigate these politically sensitive crimes in an impartial and thorough manner. We cannot allow such impunity to go unchallenged in the 21st century.
If you think that this has nothing to do with you, I ask you to do one thing, Watch “A letter to Anna” and tell me that you were not moved by her incredible outlook on life. Tell me that you could not feel the incredible injustice in her life and death.
Anna Politkovskaya’s spirit lives on through the work of all the journalists she inspired. It is imperative, in my opinion, that we let her life be remembered by not letting her colleagues be forgotten now as they face the same challenges she did.
Please, make an effort to watch the film.