Thursday, April 24, 2008

it's important to remember: what we do is still a threat

With so much depressing news about the slipping influence of journalism, it's important to realize that what we do is still threatening to many. Stephan Bevan's first-person report of being arrested and held in Zimbabwe for "practicing journalism" is a good reminder that what we do is still important:
I had been there for only an hour when there was an urgent knock on the door. It was one of the staff. "The police are here. You should leave - you can go through the gate in the garden." I grabbed my laptop and backpack and headed towards the garden. But I had taken only a few steps when, from behind me, someone barked: "Where are you going? Stay where you are."

Suddenly, there were police everywhere, some carrying guns. I was surrounded.

Bearak told me later that there were more than 40 police. One, Jasper Musademba, had threatened to shoot him if he left the hotel room. While they were busy with Bearak, I asked one of the staff to alert the British embassy. Meanwhile, across the city, the feared secret service, the CIO, were raiding the opposition Movement for Democratic Change's centre of operations. President Mugabe's regime was tightening its grip and we were like flies caught in its web.