Hi, everybody. It’s good to be here. I wanted to be here, even if only briefly, to welcome you to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. I’m grateful to each of you for coming, this is a really important event and, of course, a hugely important cause.
Today, the mission joins with the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor to launch our third annual “Free the Press” campaign. You will hear from the Bureau’s leader, Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski; from Joel Simon, the president of the Committee to Protect Journalists; and from a brilliant and intrepid reporter, Sangar Rahimi.
The purpose of our campaign is to highlight both the perils faced by journalists and the vital importance of their work, and to do so in the days preceding World Press Freedom Day, which falls on May the third.
As a former newspaper and magazine correspondent myself, I join with all of you in expressing support for what, boiled down to its essence, is the right to pursue truth.
It was the search for truth that long ago brought Edward R. Murrow to Buchenwald, Michael Herr to Vietnam, and Kurt Schork to Bosnia and to Sierra Leone. It’s why, more recently, the late Anna Politovskaya refused to stop asking hard questions, the late Daniel Pearl sought answers in Islamabad, and the late Marie Colvin smuggled herself into bombed-out areas of Syria, while the late Anja Niedringhaus ventured to the Afghan countryside. It’s what causes investigative journalists to ignore threats when exploring the connection between the criminal and the powerful – and it’s what drives war correspondents to go without weapons into places where the barrel of the gun reigns.
The reporters who put themselves at greatest risk are those who go in quest of truths concealed by militants and demagogues, and perspectives on reality provided by those who have found themselves on the receiving end of barrel bombs, bigotry, and exploitation. These are the parts of the picture that – if not for first-rate reporting – we would never see, and the stories we would never have a chance to hear.
During today’s session, Assistant Secretary Malinowski will outline America’s efforts to fight back against the rigorous crackdown on truth seekers and press freedom that we see in many parts of the world today. He and our other speakers will provide detail about members of the media who are in jeopardy. Throughout our discussion, and every week of the year, we must be guided by the principle that press freedom is an inalienable and universal human right – and that no one, no one – should be barred by law or practice from exercising that right. It is in recognition of this truth that we are gathered here today.
Thank you for coming and I know that I leave you in good hands by handing the program over to an old friend who is now in possession – at long last – of a new title, Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski. Thank you all.
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