FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION Gruevski: I am free, therefore I am!
CIVIL Media spoke with Dushko Gruevski, an activist, about freedom of expression, civic activism and the challenges in Macedonia.
CIVIL Media> What do freedom of expression, media freedoms, and in that sense, activism in general, mean to you as an activist?
Gruevski: Freedom of expression, if one can say from a philosophical perspective, for me means to be therefore. So, if someone ever says I think therefore I am, in nowadays when the thought is widespread and easily prompted, I think that freedom of expression means changing the phrase ‘I think therefore I am’ to ‘I am free therefore I am’ or ‘I express myself freely therefore I am’. All the people who, from today’s perspective, talk about some kind of regime and some kind of repression, pressure that they felt in the past years, but kept silent, were really dead people, dead souls. People who were vegetating, who could neither act in regards to what was happening to them, nor say anything about was happening to them. From a philosophical perspective, without a free thought that you need to express, you are not a living person, you are just a creature that is vegetating. That is why I think that the free thought should be ‘Our Father’ for every person. If we do not teach our children to express themselves freely, to express their thought, their need will always be somewhere aside. I feel bad that such a system probably wants to get rid of such people who do not have the courage to express a free thought, and that society has not focused on educating the people to always be prepared to express their thought and their need.
For me, free thought is the driving force of what should happen to us, a driving force of man himself. Ultimately, the driving force of society. And if that free thought cannot reach those it should reach, or those who it is intended to reach, if there is no such opportunity, then it will just be a dead thought or an echo that will ring once and will fade. That is why we have the media here, that is why we have those who will give space to that free thought. Sometimes it will be realistically critical, sometime it will be a pure speculation, but, I think that without the media that will give the space for the free thought, we as a society will become dead. If a person without a free thought is a dead person or is vegetating, then if a society, as a community of citizens, does not have media through which it will express itself, then for me it is a society that is vegetating.
Unfortunately, Macedonia in these past years was a society that was vegetating in this respect. People were expressing their free thought at home, whispering to their spouse or a friend. Because the phrase ‘walls have ears’ has stayed to this day. I will be the one who will be doing everything possible and through my example, for as long as I can. Not only to encourage and to say how it needs to be done, but I will also be showing how it needs to be done when you have a free thought. I have been continuously doing this, every day, where I have the space to do so, where someone will give me space, for me to express myself, and not with the purpose to make myself vary smart about something, but for me free thought and free expression actually mean a call for some kind of game.
CIVIL Media: As an activist, have you ever faced pressures from political and business centers of power and how do you deal with them?
Gruevski: I have had a lot of various types of pressure. Not to mention those small pressures, which for some, who have never faced any pressures, are pretty big, like belittling of your personality, your existence, your profession. I remember when Mirka Velinovska wrote the following about me: ‘Dule the Pope – Ukrainian revolutionist’, ‘Soros hordes’ and so on…These are types of pressures that when people who are close to you read about them but do not know what they are about, they immediately become biased, which, unfortunately, you cannot get rid of because you did not have the opportunity to explain to everyone what they mean, why someone would characterize you in such a way. So I have had pressures from all possible sides, with the exception of my family and my close associates.
I think that that is a very good thing after all. I will not mention that what does not destroy you makes you stronger, but that is a good thing, because that also makes you think and makes you behave critically and makes you express your free thought, your opinion about what is happening to you. At the beginning, I thought that all this was happening only to us, I thought that we were the only ones who had such pressure because we were doing something that we believed we should do. But when people came to me, because of my profession, and told me that someone had fired them from work because they had “liked” some of my comments, posts or criticism, you can imagine the pressure around me, and that gives me the right for me to be bolder, and not to think that I am the only one who is exposed to pressure, but that anyone who has tried to say something in public or consciously, has been subjected to strong pressure. In fact, that also means a regime, that is why we complain that there was a regime that we did not like, now with the new change of the central and local government it is like I can once again feel that pressure and their position of ignorance. In the previous regime I have written on my official profile, and also on some portals that gave me space, I have written some criticism that was justified with facts about the previous regime, I have encountered strong pressures by those who are members of the previous system and now again I have the same thing happening to me.
When I write some criticism or a call for something to be done by those who used to promise, I immediately receive some belittling, some pressures. I believe those pressure will continue further on, unfortunately, someone will be trying to kill the free thought, the free media and the free space, but we are here to oppose all that. I will always be on the side of the free expression, I as an activist will continue furthermore to be an activist, because an activist is nothing more than a citizen who has a free thought, freedom of expression, and has decided to keep doing so.
Camera: Dehran Muratov
This project is financed by the European Union through the small grants program “Protecting Media Freedom and Freedom of Expression in the Western Balkans”, implemented by the Croatian Journalists Association, as part of the regional project “Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety”, implemented through a partnership of six regional journalist associations – Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia, Association of Bosnia-Herzegovina Journalists, Croatian Journalists’ Association, Association of Journalists of Kosovo, Association of Journalists of Macedonia and the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro.