Monday, February 13, 2006

Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing

Just ask the Zimbabwean refugees broadcasting opposition radio, via the only free non-government Zimbabwean media outlet, Radio SW. Under Mugabe's police state, the only way they can broadcast such material is from the suburbs of northern London. Johann Hari has a fascinating article on the subject:

Radio SW Africa was founded by Gerry Jackson, a smart-suited white woman who had been one of Harare’s most popular radio DJs – until she crossed Mugabe’s unspoken line. On the day of the first food riots in 1997 – when the starving population began to rebel – Gerry did something you just don’t do in Zimbabwe: she opened the phone-lines to ordinary people, so they could explain what was happening. Until that moment, the radio had been a means for the government to talk to the people, not the other way round. Panicked, pitiful people called in, appealing for help – and Gerry was kicked off air for “insubordination.” She tried to set up an independent radio station, only for it to be smashed up by goons on its sixth day on air.

This city is scattered with Radio SW Africas. The main Saudi Arabian opposition station broadcasts from a semi in Fulham. The Falun Gong dissidents broadcast to China from Packham
You've gotta salute these people. Escaping torture and imprisonment in totalitarian states is one acheivement. But once they reach the free world, they remain the only voice of truth and freedom for the oppressed people back home.