Reporting on human-rights and corruption can be a treacherous business: Anna Politkovskaya, a Moscow-based journalist who wrote about Chechnya, was murdered in 2006, and last week human-rights worker Natalia Estemirova’s body was found by the side of a highway in Ingushetia.
The New York Times’ Andrew E. Kramer, reported on the disappearance of an aspiring imam who had spoken about the abuses, underscoring the dangers of living in a land governed by Ramzan A. Kadyrov, aka “a small Stalin.” A Forbes article describes the violence and terror:
There is no serious attempt to bring the killers to justice. Most ominously, when underlings involved in the killing of journalists are charged in trials that go nowhere, they turn out to have a maze of connections to the security services themselves.
The people who write about sensitive issues understand the risks, just as Estemirova did when she was looking into cases of abductions in Chechnya. Last year, she explained to a reporter that in many instances the outcome is grim: “We know we need to look for them with a shovel.” Untangling the web of deceit, subterfuge, and vengefulness that underlies the murders seems impossible at this point, but the main goal of these human-rights workers and journalists has been simpler and more immediate: providing an account of the crimes so that people all over the world will know. The name of the human-rights organization where Estemirova worked was called Memorial, a tribute to the people who have died and a reminder of the importance of their work.