Truthdigger of the Week: Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Iceland’s Pirate Party Founder
Posted on Nov 5, 2016
Every week the Truthdig editorial staff selects a Truthdigger of the Week, a group or person worthy of recognition for speaking truth to power, breaking the story or blowing the whistle. It is not a lifetime achievement award. Rather, we’re looking for newsmakers whose actions in a given week are worth celebrating.
Birgitta Jónsdóttir wears many hats—just watch Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! try to fit all her titles into one breath in the clip above. A poet (she refers to herself as a “poetician”), WikiLeaks activist, web developer, hacker, chairwoman of the International Modern Media Institution, member of the Free Chelsea Manning advisory board and founder of Iceland’s Pirate Party, Birgitta—also called the “Bernie Sanders of Iceland”—got close to adding “prime minister” to her list of appellations last week.
Birgitta published her first book of poetry at age 22, but was launched into politics during the 2008 financial crisis, which hit Iceland particularly hard.
While Iceland has taken a very different approach to the banking crisis than other countries—jailing bankers responsible for the crash, for example—Birgitta wants to ensure that her nation never again falls into such a trap. She has organized movements that call for establishing more transparency among political representatives and also attempt to push forward a new, collectively drafted Constitution to replace the one handed to Iceland by the Danish king more than 70 years ago, when the island nation won its independence.
Elected to Parliament as a member of the Citizens’ Movement party in 2009, she went on to form the Pirate Party in 2012. The party, whose name may raise more than a few eyebrows, runs “on the platform of transparency, accountability, digital rights in cyberspace, on being sort of like Robin Hood when it comes to taking the power from the powerful and giving it to the people,” says Birgitta, adding that Robin Hood himself “might have just been a pirate as well.”
Square, Site wide
She became heavily involved in WikiLeaks after meeting founder Julian Assange in 2009 and helping produce the site’s 2010 “Collateral Murder” video, which featured “secret U.S. military footage showing an American Apache helicopter attack on civilians in Iraq.”
In the runup to Iceland’s national elections Monday, many polls placed the Pirate Party at the top, estimating it would win up to 30 seats in Parliament. The party’s popularity rose significantly after the leaked Panama Papers showed that Prime Minister Sigmundur Davio Gunnlaugsson and his wife held money in offshore tax shelters, which led to Gunnlaugsson’s resignation. Though the Pirates fell short of poll expectations, Birgitta was extremely pleased with the results of an election that saw her party triple its number of seats. She explained the significance of the gains to Goodman after the election:
For her devotion to social change and to progressive causes, for championing whistleblower heroes and believing in the collective power to establish justice, and for bringing all these issues into the international limelight with her political work, the many-talented, multifaceted Birgitta Jónsdóttir is our Truthdigger of the Week.
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