|Jineth Bedoya Lima's Letter to Anna|
Since the day of my abduction I have spent many a sleepless night crying in the darkness all alone. Each time depression knocks on my door I think how lucky I am to be still alive; how fortunate I am that the 9-mm gun, pointed at my temple for many hours, was never fired.
For countless nights I have felt its heavy weight against my head and have thought about the Irish [journalist] Verónica Guerin, the Mexicans Marcela Yarce Viveros and Rocío Gonzales, and about you.
I have asked myself if it was really worth it to sacrifice so much: to put one’s personal life aside, to endure public scorn, to challenge those in power and the corrupt who think themselves masters of our lives. To subject our families to our endless absences, to intimidation and fear for our life.
In the end, I must confess that what fills me with anguish is not the thought that one day they may succeed in firing the gun or choose another way of silencing me. What really frightens me is the possibility of truth never coming out, the powerful remaining unmasked, the violent going unpunished because of society’s short memory.
Trying to stir up that memory was what shut your eyes forever, and yet it has opened the eyes of many other people, such as myself, to the possibility of not capitulating.
Millions of people need the few who do not capitulate. So today, ten years after your assassination I take a decision in your honour - not to capitulate. Not to capitulate as we see the beginning of an end to the violent conflict in my country, Colombia, not to capitulate while uncovering sexual violence which continues to affect so many people in the world.
Just as I receive the news of the Anna Politkovskaya award, 52 years of war are coming to an end in my country. The bullets that took her life are the same that ended the life of over 200 000 Colombians: the business of war has not only contaminated the souls of those who profit from it, but it has also made our society hardened and intolerant. The legacy of women like Anna is not to allow this to be happening again and again. It is the one good thing we can leave behind during our brief passage through this world.
This award is my tribute to the Colombian women who were victims of the armed conflict in Colombia. Their bodies were used as weapons of war, just as it happens in many other places in the world. I have been working as a journalist for the past 20 years, covering this violent conflict. It is time for these women to be vindicated.
We are fortunate enough to have the gift of word, gift of writing: let it remain the backbone of our work and the basis of hope for many.
Also available in Spanish and Russian
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