Noted from BBC, the father [Jozef] of the deceased said, “Everyone can make their own judgement about what kind of democracy we’re living in, and from whom we should seek justice.”
It was an average travel day, nothing too out of the ordinary-yet. Grabbed a coffee and walked around the city, finding myself lost in a crowd larger than normal. As I’ve never been one to walk away, I had to check it out and this is what I found:
Police cars blocking streets, tons and tons of people merged by a stage and everyone’s hands in the air. Spoken in the Slovenian language, the people on stage hyped the crowd and hundreds of people were chanting phrases. Only understanding basic greetings, I googled it and realized this is why I travel, to be apart of things that matter. Like this.
The protest stood against an act that threatened both freedom of speech and democracy in Slovakia. An investigative journalist, Jan Kuciak, was murdered (along with his partner) allegedly due to his work which revealed tax fraud involving high-end apartments. Mixed with rumors of clandestine dealings between a government official and a property developer. As this targeted murder had been the first toward a journalist in the country, remembrances were held throughout Slovakia as well as political protests.
BBC News writes, “Demonstrators cheered as organisers called on the political old guard to resign-a group including former Prime Minister Robert Fico, who remains an MP and head of the government party.
Once I better understood the situation surrounding the protest, immediately I knew taking part and standing up alongside Slovaks was important. Many people undervalue his or her right to freedom of speech, democracy, and related *topics* and it’s easy to take advantage of. But when seeing those ways of living potentially threatened, it puts everything into perspective.
So, I managed to move myself inside the crowd. And I was afraid. Frankly, it was a realization of, babe you’re not in NY anymore. But I joined, stood up for what is right. As for the reaction I received from locals near me in the masses, I was shocked but also encouraged to stay and protest.
Shocked in a good way. Although I’m from New York, the coveted big apple to foreigners, it’s still the USA and that generally doesn’t have the best reputation overseas. I mean, I’ve heard the phrase “you don’t seem American” in a complimentary tone quite often. Anyhow, I was nervous those near me would think “whose this little American,” in an eye roll kind of fashion as it’s happened before. But, this was different. And it felt good.
A couple next to me said “thanks you.”
It would have been easy to watch what was happening then leave. When it’s not your life or freedom under any unprecedented attacks, it’s easy to think “not my problem.” Not completely understanding the language, traditions, and the political-situation-economical situation