Index relies entirely on the support of donors and readers to do its work.
Help us keep amplifying censored voices today.
Index is in contact with a number of Afghan journalists forced to flee their country after the Taliban takeover. In danger because they exercised their freedom of speech through their work, they are now all refugees. Below is a message we received from one of them, Afghan sports journalist Saeedullah Safi, following the recent Gary Lineker row:
As a sports journalist from Afghanistan, I have been following Gary Lineker’s work with great admiration, and I am writing this message to publicly express my gratitude for his efforts to support refugees.
Gary Lineker’s dedication towards providing facilities and support for refugees is truly commendable. His passion for advocating for their rights is an inspiration to all of us who share the same goal of creating a better world for everyone.
I personally know how difficult migration can be, as I have been stuck in Pakistan for a year after leaving Afghanistan to pursue my dreams in the hope to reach a final destination. Lineker’s work gives me hope that more people like him will continue to work toward creating a better future for refugees.
On a personal note, I am also a fan of Manchester United and I hope to one day cover them closely. On and off the field Lineker has made a tremendous impact on the world, and I am honoured to have the opportunity to publicly thank him.
Once again thank Gary Lineker for his incredible contributions and for being a true advocate for refugees.
Rwandan journalist John Williams Ntwali – who many believed was the last remaining independent journalist in the country – died last week. He was apparently killed in a road accident in the country’s capital, Kigali, in the early hours of 18 January 2023. He was 43 years old, and leaves behind a wife and child.
It has been reported that a speeding vehicle crashed into the motorcycle he was riding as a passenger. Police spokesman John Bosco Cabera told Reuters that Ntwali was the sole fatality.
Ntwali, who was a leading investigative journalist and editor of the Rwandan-based news publication The Chronicles, was one of the few journalists who was openly critical of Paul Kagame, who became president of Rwanda in 2000. Several journalists and commentators are currently imprisoned under Kagame’s regime.
Ntwali was regularly threatened as a journalist exposing human rights abuses in Rwanda.
“I’m focused on justice, human rights, and advocacy. I know those three areas are risky here in Rwanda, but I’m committed to [them],” he told Al Jazeera. He also spoke about how death threats were common as part of his work.
There were widespread tributes to Ntwali’s death after it was announced.
The Rwanda Journalists Association said: “We are saddened by the death of journalist John Williams Ntwali this week in a road accident. Our condolences go out to his family, the wider media community and friends and relatives. May God rest in peace.”
MP and president of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, Frank Habineza, wrote: “It is with great sadness that we share the tragic news of the death of journalist John Williams, who died in an accident. We are patient with his family. God bless you. Our sincere condolences. May his soul rest in eternal glory.”
As the authorities have yet to produce any reports or evidence from Ntwali’s fatal accident, Lewis Mudge, Central African Director at Human Rights Watch, wrote that he not only dared to report about political repression but that “he joins a long list of people who have challenged the government and died in suspicious circumstances.”
The Human Rights Foundation said that his death is considered suspicious as he was in “the regime’s crosshairs for his journalistic work.”
There have also been calls for an independent enquiry into Ntwali’s death, with Ntwali’s family and friends requesting an independent international investigation. Angela Quintal, Africa programme coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said Ntwali will be mourned and also called for “a transparent, comprehensive, and credible accounting of the circumstances that led to his death.” Index join in these calls for accountability.
Ntwali’s funeral was held in the Gacurabwenge sector of the Kamonyi district, Rwanda, on 22 January 2023.
Rwanda was ranked 136 out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders 2022 World Press Freedom Index. According to the organisation, media owners must pledge allegiance to the government, and methods such as espionage, surveillance, arrest and forced disappearance is used in the county to prevent journalists from working freely. It also says that arbitrary arrests and detention of journalists have increased in recent years.
Ntwali’s death comes one year ahead of Rwanda going to the polls. Last summer Kagame said that he planned to run again in 2024, seeking his fourth term in office.
“I would consider running for another 20 years. I have no problem with that. Elections are about people choosing,” he told France 24. In 2017, Kagame reportedly won 99% of the vote, leading to cries of foul-play. Whether Ntwali’s death was suspicious or not, his death leaves a huge hole in Rwanda’s media landscape. Who is now left to speak out against Kagame?
Huang Xueqin is an activist and journalist who has worked with several domestic Chinese media outlets. She has reported extensively on the MeToo movement in China.
Huang Xueqin played a significant role in covering the MeToo movement. In 2017, she surveyed hundreds of female journalists across 15 provinces in China on their experience of workplace sexual harassment. She published her findings in a report in March 2018. She also assisted Luo Xixi, one victim of sexual harassment, to publicly submit a complaint against her professor. Her work sparked national discussions on sexual harrassment on campuses.
Huang has worked to promote women’s rights, and to document and expose sexual harassment against women and girls. Unfortunately, she has faced legal challenges because of her work as an activist and journalist. She was detained between October 2019 and January 2020 and charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” after writing about mass protests in Hong Kong.
On 19 September 2021, Huang disappeared and stopped responding to phone calls from family and friends. Two months later, in November, it was confirmed that she had been detained along with labour activist Wang Jianbing and charged with “inciting subversion of state power”. She was due to travel to the UK to study development studies at the University of Sussex after receiving a Chevening Scholarship. She remains in detention and is now held in the No. 1 Detention Centre in Guangzhou.
The last week has been unprecedented in global news – although I do feel that every time we see the word unprecedented to refer to current events we’re just tempting fate to make it even worse. Our news has been dominated by crucially important and life-changing stories – the economic turmoil in the UK; the impact of global inflation; the real-life effects of Hurricanes Fiona and Ian on the east coast of Canada and the USA; Putin’s annexation of four more Ukrainian territories; the election of the most right-wing prime minister since Mussolini in Italy and; the suspected nation-state-orchestrated sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines. This has been a busy news week. But beyond the headlines there have been so many other stories, other crises, other issues that in a ‘normal’ week (if there is such a thing anymore) would have demanded our attention.
So this week – I want to do a round-up of what we’ve missed as the world has become an even scarier place for too many people. To remind us all of what else is happening in the world that we’ve missed as we have been glued to the news that is struggling to report on everything that has happened.
These are just a few of the dozens of stories that many of us missed this week while the world is in turmoil. As ever the role of Index is to make sure that these stories and those of dissidents are not ignored or forgotten.