The terrible price of refusing to remain silent
On the anniversary of the murder of MP Jo Cox and as we learn of the fate of two journalists in Brazil, Ruth Smeeth says we must learn from their deaths
16 Jun 22

People take part in a vigil for Dom Phillips and Bruno Araujo Pereira. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images

A vigil held for Dom Phillips and Bruno Araujo Pereira. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images

On Friday 16 June 2016, my beautiful and kind former colleague Jo Cox was murdered for no reason other than she was doing her duty, representing the people of Batley and Spen as a Member of the British Parliament to the best of her ability. Jo was a democrat, a wife, a mother, a daughter, and a friend to lots of us.

When we lost her, the foundations of our democracy were shaken but her legacy cannot and must never be defined by the heart-breaking and evil events of 16 June. Her family will not allow it, and neither must we.

Having said that I woke up this morning feeling a little sick and very sad. I’m honestly not sure that this day will ever be easy for those people that knew and loved Jo, but as I had my morning cuppa and listened to the news, every story reminded me not of her murder but of how angry she would have been about each news item and how determined and driven she would have been to make a difference. Because that’s who she actually was.

Jo’s legacy is not her murder but her love. It’s not the hate-filled extremist that stole her from us, it’s her determination to leave the world in a better place than she found it. It’s not the silence she left behind but rather the laughter and words she gave us. Which drive so many of us today.

That’s her legacy, which has been embraced by her family and institutionalised by the Jo Cox Foundation. And today as we remember Jo, we cannot forget the instructions she gave us to make the world better.

Which brings me to two more families who are in mourning today – those of  Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira.

Once again two people have seemingly been killed for refusing to be silenced. For refusing to take the easy route. For standing up for those people whose voices aren’t as loud.

Dom Phillips was a brave and inspirational journalist, determined to not only tell the stories of indigenous people affected by climate change but to offer solutions for how we could help save the Amazon. His death in the Brazilian rainforest must not be allowed to define his life or his legacy. He is so much more than the people who have silenced him.

But today my thoughts and prayers are with those who are struggling with their grief – as they seek to make sense of these horrors.

The only words I can give are those of Jo. She left us with one core premise – we have more in common with each other than the things that divide us. Whether that’s across the political aisle, or in every one of our communities, this basic fact of our collectively humanity is something that we must hold onto.

By Ruth Anderson

CEO at Index On Censorship