Top Ethnic Journalist: Governments Must Accept Criticism




Member, Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada (NEPMCC) and Reporters Without Borders



TORONTO - Canada's top ethnic journalist has urged governments to accept "enlightened public criticism" as he took note of the continued attacks on journalists and on the right of people to free expression.


At least 118 journalists were killed last year and another 185 are in detention in various parts of the globe, said  Thomas S. Saras, president of the 620-member National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada (NEPMCC).


"The citizens in a democracy are entitled to knowledge of the essential facts controlling their lives," he states during the opening day ceremony on May 6 at Toronto City Hall of the week-long exhibition honouring World Press Freedom Day declared by the United Nations.


Saras said in the last few years, freedom of the press has reached its lowest level. He named eight countries, notably the "theocratic regime of Iran," and 39 leaders, among them heads of states and terrorist organizations, for stilling people's right to freely express themselves.


"The top 10 countries where most of our sisters and brothers were detained were Turkey with 69, Iran 61, China 32, Eritrea 28, Syria 15, Vietnam 14, Ethiopia 6, Saudi Arabia 4 and so on," he points out.


According to Saras, at least 23 professional and 53 part-time journalists have been killed in Syria while the fate of another seven remains undetermined.


"The whole structure of democracy rests upon the public opinion . . . we are ruled by public opinion," he says at the event which was also attended by Ontario provincial and city officials led by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. (Video at:


"This is the reason that a fully informed public opinion through the full and free expression of the press and media we can keep control of our democratic institutions and our elected officials so that they will be able of functioning properly," he adds.


Saras, who's also editor of the monthly Greek paper Patrides, also declared that journalists have a duty to see that they serve the highest ideals of truth, justice and fair play to create wholesome relationship among the various cultural, racial and linguistic groups and the government.


"This principle can be translated to the fact that by free press we mean a press untrammeled by prejudice and unfettered by selfish bias, serving no other cause but that of the truth and recognizes no other master but justice," he adds. (Free press, PPCO version:


Given its broad multi-ethnic and multi-cultural base across Canada, NEPMCC members have altogether an estimated mass readership of five million which could potentially make or unmake the country's political landscape.


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