afrol News, 19 April - Hundreds of people – journalists, human rights organisations, trade unionists and others – thronged the streets of the Burkinabe capital Ouagadougou on Saturday to celebrate that country’s assassinated investigative journalist – Norbert Zongo.
Mr Zongo, also an editor of the weekly ‘L’Independent’ was assassinated alongside three others – including his brother and friend – on 13 December 1998 in Soupy, 100 km from Ouagadougou. The cowardly act happened at a time when the brave journalist was busy investigating high level and entrenched corruption within the government.
Those implicated in his killing include François Compaoré, a brother to the current Burkina Faso President and businessman, Oumarou Kanazoé.
Since his killing, right activists’ numerous quest to demand for justice is yet to bear fruits. And their efforts to immortalise him on 1999 was also met with stiff resistance from the remote-controlled security forces.
After nine years of missing justice, a coalition of right and freedom defenders under the auspices of the International Freedom of Expression Festival organised a procession that led to the main cemetery where Mr Zongo and other victims were laid to rest. Beside them laid to rest was a student killed by a soldier’s bullet in 2002 when a demonstration demanding justice for Mr Zongo’s killing was staged.
The mood at the cemetery was one of sombre and confusion. Mr Zongo’s wife almost threw the gathering into tears when it was time for her to speak. She was almost lost of words and only stopped at thanking people for standing beside them throughout their moments of tragedy and pain.
A Senegalese journalist and close friend of the fallen editor, Abdoul Latif Coulibaly, read a glorifying but sad tribute to Norbert Zongo.
“Norbert, you fall down under the bullets of assassins who will never have the courage to come plain to say that they kill you,” Latif Coulibaly said.
“Because they are protected by those who should have protected you and your country mates, they escaped occasional human justice.” Mr Coulibaly was upbeat that one day the killers of Norbert Zongo will face justice and punished accordingly.
He said the Burkinabe editor’s only crime was to defend the freedom and right of the people in a land of Africa where leaders preach what they don’t exercise.
“Norbert, your freedom of information has always been for an ideal - educate the people through an in depth information, reduce the boundaries of ignorance, so that people escape all kinds of dominations, mainly those of the rulers.”
Mr Coulibaly said it is rather unfortunate that the enemies of freedom and progress in Africa have not still understood that “one cannot kill ideas by killing the authors of these ideas.” Instead, he concurred, the best way to fight ideas is to bring other ideas that are above the those of the author's and not through killing carriers of ideas.
“Norbert, from the rest of the burnt car in which your charred remains were left, raised a voice, in the very afternoon you passed away. The voice was repeating the words of the philosopher that “Freedom is the feeling of higher souls, it produces great actions, creates the great countries, and build sustainable institutions, it enjoys itself in the scheme of majesty, it allies itself with all kind of governments, but never with nepotism.”
He described the assassins of the dead journalist as “allies of despots and sleeping partners of criminal acts” who hate to hear natural voices of truth and generosity.
Latif Coulibaly recounted Mr Zongo’s concerns of the risks and difficulties involved in investigative journalism two years before he died but that his courage to defend the rights of the people he remained adamant to push the pen.
He borrowed extracts of an editorial signed by Mr Zongo on 25 July 1995, which reads: “We have lost the capacity of defining and expressing our conscience. From the past well known intellectuals to anonymous workers, we have lost our personality in Burkina Faso. It does not solve the problem to point one as responsible. We have to address the evil; it lies on everyone of us. It should be maliciously rooted.”
Mr Coulibaly said for the past nine years, everyone, including the family of Norbert Zongo have been searching for justice but without response. “This will never come out. Norbert, we know that you have been killed for denunciating quite often the drifts of the prince of the moment, and highlighted the system of corruption in which the whole system of life is based on.”
Abdoul Latif, also a seasoned writer, said the fight for justice for the assassinated freedom fighters in the continent will never cease. “We commit ourselves to continue our noble and important struggle so that we never again have cowardly assassinations in this land of Africa,” he said, paying homage to assassinated journalists in The Gambia and Algeria – Deyda Hydara and Tahar Djaoud.
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