By Farah Souames
By Farah Souames
Morocco World News
Algiers, March 11, 2012
“War is the most potent narcotic invented by humankind. I was, like most war correspondents and combat photographers, a war junkie.” – Christopher Hedges
Hello, can you introduce yourself? My name is Marie Colvin, I am a war reporter……….my name is Remi Ochlik, I am a war photographer…….. my name is Edith Bouvier, I am a war correspondent………The death of French television reporter Gilles Jacquier in Syria adds to a mounting toll of journalists killed, detained and attacked as they try to cover the year-old Arab Spring uprising. According to watchdog group Reporters without Borders, the Middle East was the most dangerous region for journalists last year.
France has demanded a full investigation into the death of France 2 TV’s Jacquier, who became the first western journalist killed in Syria, since the anti-government uprising began. Unlike many journalists, who have tried to sneak into Syria without a visa, the 44-year-old Jacquier had traveled to the Syrian town of Homs with government permission. He was killed by rocket fire as he covered a pro-government rally.
“We’re not asking foreign journalists not to go to Syria. The world needs information about what’s going on in Syria. Not going to Syria means that we will play the regime’s game. We need on-the-ground foreign journalists. They’re the only independent source of information to understand what’s going on,” said Dollet, who heads Reporters Without Borders’ Middle East and North Africa bureau.
Once again………the storytellers have become the story.
Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin, regarded as one of the world’s most experienced and compassionate foreign correspondents was killed in Homs, Syria, when government forces shelled the house where she was staying. She died beside French photographer Remi Ochlik, who had just won a prestigious World Press Photo Award for his work in Libya.
At least eight Syrian activists were killed and another three foreign journalists injured during the same attack in Homs, the city most heavily targeted by President Bashar Assad’s regime. In her last story published in the Times on Feb. 19, Colvin wrote that Homs residents “live in fear of a massacre.” The United Nations, several weeks ago, said 5,400 Syrians died last year after the uprising began in March — it has since stopped counting.
The loss devastated a journalism community already mourning the death of award-winning New York Times journalist Anthony Shadid. Shadid, 43, who died in Syria of an asthma attack, his body carried across the border into Turkey by Times photographer Tyler Hicks. The death of such veteran journalists has created a void in what some Syrian activists are calling the “forgotten revolution.”
“Our mission is to report these horrors of war with accuracy and without prejudice. We always have to ask ourselves whether the level of risk is worth the story. What is bravery, and what is bravado?” used to say Colvin.
Journalists covering combat shoulder great responsibilities and face difficult choices. Sometimes they pay the ultimate price. Many journalists around the world have been wounded, maimed or kidnapped and held hostage for months. It is mandatory to remember how important it is that news organizations continue to invest in sending reporters out at great cost, both financial and emotional, to cover stories.
Daily the fixers, drivers, and translators, are facing the same risks and die in appalling numbers, as much as the front line journalists who have died in pursuit of the truth.
Since the Syrian government rarely grants visas for foreign journalists and closely controls those that it does allow in, most journalists who have reported from inside Syria have been smuggled in with the help of activists, or soldiers who have defected and joined the Free Syrian Army, the armed resistance group.
There have been persistent rumors that the regime is targeting journalists by tracking satellite phones. The Daily Telegraph reported that Lebanon’s intelligence service had intercepted communications among Syrian army officers issuing orders to target the makeshift media center where Colvin and other journalists had been living.
Among the other foreign reporters injured were British freelance photographer Paul Conroy, who was working with Colvin, Le Figaro freelancer Edith Bouvier, and an unnamed female American journalist.
Few journalists have experienced foreign reporting as the 55-year-old American journalist had, covering conflicts from Chechnya to East Timor. She lost sight in one eye in Sri Lanka in 2001, covering what she called an “unreported humanitarian disaster.”
Ochlik, 28, began his career eight years ago in Haiti, covering the riots after the fall of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In the years since, he covered the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
“She was the real deal,” said Frontline Club chair and journalism professor John Owen. “I think she put into practice all the things journalists like to say about why it is so important to witness war. She has a history going back to the Balkans of really believing by being there and covering the victims … it would make a difference.”
“Marie and Remi died bringing us the truth about what is happening to the people of Homs,” said William Hague, British Foreign Secretary of State. “Governments around the world have the responsibility to act upon that truth – and to redouble our efforts to stop the Assad regime’s despicable campaign of terror in Syria.”
Jean Pierre Perrin, senior reporter for the French newspaper ‘Libération‘ , said the Syrian army recommended, “killing any journalist that stepped on Syrian soil”. He said the journalists had been aware of this, and of reports of intercepted communications between Syrian officers that recommended killing all journalists found between the Lebanese border and Homs, and making out they had been killed in combat between terrorist groups.
Events accurately covered…. female reporters sexually harassed…
American journalist Lara Logan told Women Under Siege that she “nearly died” during her sexual assault and beating on February 11, 2011; security forces broke American-Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy’s hand and arm and violently groped her on November 23 and French journalist Caroline Sinz was also attacked by a mob on November 23. Sinz told Agence France-Presse, “I was beaten by a group of youngsters and adults who tore my clothes [and molested me in a way that] would be considered rape. Some people tried to help me but failed… .It lasted three-quarters of an hour before I was taken out. I thought I was going to die.”
The Women’s Media Center quoted Egyptian activist and blogger Ahmed Rady as saying that SCAF is definitively behind the violence against foreign correspondents. “But they can’t do this directly,” Rady said. “So instead, they are doing it in a kind of ‘Oops, we didn’t know!’ manner. Obviously, the simplest way to deter female journalists is psychological warfare, [which can be] sexual assault.”
“If what happened to Lara was something big enough,” wrote Ahmad Fahmy, another Facebook user, “it would have appeared in Aljazeera or al-Arabiya.” Fahmy was at least partially correct: Al Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, two of the Arab world’s most popular TV news networks, both neglected to report the alleged incident. Al-Arabiya reported it on the English-language edition of its website ten days after the attack was said to have occurred.
Journalists also were killed in covering the uprisings in Yemen, Libya, Egypt and during Tunisia’s relatively peaceful revolution a year ago. Journalists die at high rates while covering protests in the Arab world and elsewhere. Photographers and freelancers appear vulnerable. Pakistan is again the deadliest nation.
Edited by Benjamin Villanti
Farah Souames obtained her Bachelor of Science in Computer and Information science at the University of 2o August 1955 Eastern Algeria. She has High degrees in French and English at foreign cultural and language centers. She is a senior translator, interpreter and consultant with renewed foreign companies in North Africa, Europe, Middle east and US since more than 6 years, and a freelance journalist for a range of newspapers and magazines.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved