This letter was sent to ST Forum on 5 Sep 2014, but was not published.
The Forum Page Editor
The Straits Times
MARUAH, a human rights organization, refers to the article Obama Vows to Degrade and Destroy ISIS Militants (ST September 4, 2014) and is deeply worried about ISIS’s escalating use of fear tactics to promote its extremist agenda. The brutal beheadings of journalists Mr Steven Sotloff and Mr James Foley are acts that shock the conscience of mankind. Our deepest condolences to the families of the journalists and the people of America.
ISIS has sought to market that shock and cheapen our conscience by filming and sharing the beheadings. These videos were intended to be seen and, of course, reported. The journalist compatriots of Steven Sotloff and James Foley, no doubt, have a duty to report the facts of the beheadings, despite the ethical implications of their reports on violence and turmoil.
After James Foley’s death, the New York Post ran a picture of his beheading and a sensationalist headline as its front page story. New York Post was roundly condemned not just by concerned citizens but by other newspapers as well.
Such sensationalist spectacles not only create an audience for ISIS but also belittle the memory of journalists who are unjustly murdered. If we are to be humane and respect the memory of the dead, we have to extend the right to privacy and freedom from attacks upon one’s honour – ensconced in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – to them as well.
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, in line with Resolution 29 “Condemnation of Violence Against Journalists” spoke out against ISIS’s murder of Steven Sotloff. Similarly, United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, has sought to hold ISIS accountable “no matter how long it takes.”
We, as citizens from all over the world, can do our part in curbing the influence of ISIS by refusing to view and share the exploitative videos. When we view and share these videos, whether intentionally or not, we validate the terror tactics of ISIS.
Let us not feed a theatre of cruelty.
MARUAH would like to state categorically that ISIS as an organization deserves our condemnation and these acts of theirs to resolve deep-seated issues of beliefs and faiths are cheap, sensational, exploitative, cruel, barbaric and cowardly. There is no heroism here.
Mr Simon Vincent,
Member, Youth Group