Solidarity vigil in Madrid with victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack. Photo: Adolfo Lujan under creative commons licence.
Unions condemn the Charlie Hebdo killings
As crowds gathered in cities across France and beyond today, standing in solidarity with those attacked at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, journalists’ unions expressed their shock and condemnation of the killings and the killers.
This was not just essential human solidarity, of course. Those killed – not just the journalists and cartoonists, but the two police officers murdered as well – were killed doing, and in some cases for doing, their jobs. And for journalists’ unions, this was an attack not just on people doing their jobs, but on freedom of the press and democracy itself.
“The ‘massacre’ which took place today at the premises of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris is a barbaric act of violence against journalists and media freedom”
said the European Federation of Journalists’ President, Mogens Blicher Bjerregaard.
Violence at work is a key health and safety issue for many unions, but it has a particular importance for journalists because of the function they perform in keeping democracy and freedom of speech alive. The attack on Charlie Hebdo came all too soon after the publication of the annual International Federation of Journalists’ (IFJ) report of 118 journalists’ deaths in 2014.
National Union of Journalists’ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said:
“The assassination of journalists at Charlie Hebdo, cynically targeted on press day to maximise casualties, is an attempt to assassinate the free press.”
And IFJ Deputy General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said:
“An attack on an editorial office and killing journalists amounts to attacking the profession as a whole and also democracy.”
Journalists’ unions have been joining and leading protests against the murders of their colleagues, while also backing calls for communities to come together and unite, as London did after the July 2007 bombings, against Islamophobia and other attempts to divide people.