But organizers of the vigil made it clear that they have no intention of remaining silent until his killers are prosecuted, the Saudi government is held accountable for its role, the kingdom stops restricting dissent and jailing journalists, and the Trump administration challenges Saudi royals to achieve these goals.
“Silence is not how we at the National Press Club have been responding to Jamal’s killing. To the contrary, we have been as loud as possible, for as long as possible, and we intend to keep it that way,” said John Donnelly, a senior writer for CQ Roll Call who is also the chairman of the National Press Club’s Press Freedom Committee.
He also directed words at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, holding him responsible for Khashoggi’s death.
“You may think you have impunity for your crime and the world will forget and move on,” Donnelly said. “But as long as Jamal’s fellow reporters have anything to say about it, his inspirational life and his awful death at your bloody hands will never be forgotten.”
Khashoggi, a veteran journalist and contributing columnist for The Washington Post, was killed in Istanbul after walking into the Saudi Consulate on Oct. 2, 2018, as he sought documents in preparation for his marriage. Khashoggi was never seen alive again, and his remains have never been recovered.
The vigil in Washington was organized by the Committee to Protect Journalists, which is suing the U.S. government for the release of documents that could show whether the intelligence community had information on threats to Khashoggi, said Courtney Radsch, advocacy director for the group.
Nine other journalism and human rights groups also sponsored the event in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood.
Philippe Nassif, advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International, said Khashoggi’s killing represented a pattern and practice by a regime that currently imprisons about 30 journalists and dissenters, who have reported being tortured and raped.
In an interview that aired Sunday on the CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Mohammed denied ordering Khashoggi’s murder but said he accepted responsibility for the killing because Saudi government employees committed the crime.
Dokhi Fassihian, executive director of Reporters Without Borders in North America, told dozens of vigilgoers in Washington that Khashoggi was a “deeply thoughtful, introspective and courageous man” who showed great care and love for his country and fellow Arabian citizens.
“He raised his voice to criticize the Saudi government’s persecution of the media, of women and for those who fought for human rights and democracy in Saudi Arabia,” Fassihian said. “The murder of Jamal Khashoggi is an atrocity and deeply painful loss … to the larger Arab world who looked to him as a source of hope in dark times.”
Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) quoted Maryland native Frederick Douglass, the 19th-century abolitionist and orator, telling the crowd that “there must be struggle” and that power “cedes nothing without a demand.”
“This is going to be a long fight to get justice for the Khashoggi family and to end the tyranny in Saudi Arabia,” Raskin said.
Also in attendance were journalists who have faced repression or were forced to flee their native countries.
Nigerian television presenter Ohimai Amaize hosted a program that debuted in August 2018 that brought social media conversations to a broadcast audience. But he said the Nigerian government deemed the show too critical and shut down his station.
A court order allowed the station to reopen, but by June, he fled his country to avoid facing charges of treason and incitement, Amaize said.
He said Khashoggi’s killing represents an increasing threat to journalists worldwide from an increasing number of regimes.
“The people who killed him have not been brought to book,” Amaize said. “It’s a tragic reminder that journalists anywhere in the world really are not safe.”
“We have to keep talking,” he said. “We have to step up advocacy for the protection of journalists.”