Raised voices: why we must continue to listen
The news coming in from Belarus, Brazil, Hong Kong and Russia is devastating, writes our CEO Ruth Smeeth
10 Jun 22

Photo: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

This week has been awful.

The news has been devastating and all consuming. But that feels like it’s becoming the norm.

In Belarus, our friends remain under attack – Andrei and Irina’s trial began on Monday. We have no idea of the outcome.

In Brazil, Dom Phillips and his colleague Bruno Araújo Pereira remain missing – but with reports of fresh blood being found, our hearts break for their loved ones.

In Ukraine, we see daily the death and destruction caused by the Russian invasion, up to 200 Ukrainian soldiers killed a day. And the reports of cholera in Mariupol are beyond my comprehension in the twenty-first century.

In Russia, the crackdown against dissidents continues unabated – with limited coverage. 160 people are currently defending criminal cases for anti-war statements and this week a close associate of Alexei Navalny was tried in absentia and placed on the international wanted list.

In the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Jr has been elected as the next President and made his first visit to the US as President-Elect – seemingly the legacy of his parents no longer an electoral or diplomatic issue.

In Hong Kong, six brave democracy protesters were arrested for the temerity of marking the anniversary of Tiananmen Square.

In the US – the inquiry into the Capitol Riot is officially underway – highlighting just how fragile our collective democracy is and how desperately we need to cherish and protect it.

And that’s before I even touch on what is happening in the UK, the ongoing political crises, and the ideologically incoherent approach to freedom of expression protections.

And in too many countries this is now framed through the prism of a cost-of-living crisis as a scale that we haven’t seen for a generation.

My only comfort is that we know what is happening. In a digital age it is very difficult for any leader, however repressive, to completely silence dissent about their domestic actions. The joy of a free press in democratic countries is that it enables us to be informed and to demand more and better – from our own leaders and from those that claim a global role. It enables us to analyse the scale of the threat and to try and prioritise our efforts in assisting those brave enough to stand against tyranny.

Index exists to provide a platform for the persecuted. We work every day with those who refuse to be silenced. The least we can do is listen to them and then join their fight.