News / Middle East

Rights Groups: Syria Escalating Violent Campaign Against Journalists

Undated  photo of French photographer Remi Ochlik who died Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012  in Homs, Syria and American journalist Marie Colvin working for a British newspaper, who were killed Wednesday by Syrian government shelling of the opposition stronghold o
Undated photo of French photographer Remi Ochlik who died Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012 in Homs, Syria and American journalist Marie Colvin working for a British newspaper, who were killed Wednesday by Syrian government shelling of the opposition stronghold o

Media rights groups say the killing of two Western journalists in the Syrian city of Homs on Wednesday shows Damascus is escalating a violent campaign against independent news coverage of its crackdown on dissent.

Veteran American Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin and French freelance photographer Remi Ochlik are the latest journalists to be killed in an 11-month uprising that has become increasingly dangerous for the profession to cover.

Colvin and Ochlik were among group of journalists who sneaked into Syria this month by crossing the Lebanese border with the help of smugglers. The Syrian government does not permit foreign reporters to travel freely and has kept most of them out.

The two journalists were staying at a makeshift media center in the rebel-held Homs district of Baba Amr when several rockets hit the building Wednesday morning, killing them and wounding three other reporters. Activists say Syrian government troops surrounding Homs have been indiscriminately bombarding the residential area every day since February 4.

Reporters Without Borders spokeswoman Soazid Dollet told VOA the Paris-based organization is investigating allegations by some activists that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad deliberately targeted the Baba Amr media center. The group accused Syria of using "the most violent means" to "silence journalists who witness (government) excesses" and to enforce a "bloody" policy of censorship.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said Colvin and Ochlik were killed reporting on a story the Syrian government has tried to "choke off." It said their deaths represent an "unacceptable escalation in the price that local and international journalists are being forced to pay."

The Syrian Information Ministry said Wednesday the government did not know that Colvin and Ochlik were in the country. It called on all foreign journalists who have entered Syria illegally to report to immigration officials to resolve their status.

Wednesday's attack on the Baba Amr media center wounded three other journalists: French reporter Edith Bouvier, who writes for French newspaper Le Figaro, Colvin's British photographer Paul Conroy, and Paris-based photographer William Daniels.

Amateur video posted on YouTube showed Bouvier and Conroy alert and lying on beds in a makeshift medical clinic, with their legs bandaged from apparent shrapnel wounds. A doctor in the video said Bouvier was in a serious condition and needed emergency medical care.

Dollet of Reporters Without Borders said Colvin's death is a "great loss" for the industry. Colvin, who was in her mid-to-late 50s, was born in New York state. She earned a reputation as a courageous reporter covering some of world's deadliest conflicts for London's Sunday Times, where she had worked for the past two decades.

Colvin was recognizable for wearing an eye patch that concealed an injury she suffered in an explosion while covering Sri Lanka's civil war in 2001.

She acknowledged the risks of her work in a 2010 speech in which she paid tribute to other slain journalists. Speaking at London's St. Bride's Church, she said: "We always have to ask ourselves whether the level of risk is worth the story. What is bravery, and what is bravado? Journalists covering combat shoulder great responsibilities and face difficult choices. Sometimes they pay the ultimate price."

In her final report published on Sunday, she wrote of Homs: "It is a city of the cold and hungry, echoing to exploding shells and bursts of gunfire. On the lips of everyone was the question: 'Why have we been abandoned by the world?'" A day before her death, Colvin spoke to BBC television by telephone and described a two-year-old boy dying of a shrapnel wound: "I watched a little baby die today. Absolutely horrific."

Twenty-eight-year-old Ochlik was born in France. He began his photography career covering riots in Haiti in 2004 and founded photographic agency IP3 Press in 2005. He rose to prominence last year for covering Arab Spring revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. His 12-image series titled "Battle for Libya" won him the first prize at this year's World Press Photo contest.

Six other journalists have been killed in Syria since the start of the anti-Assad revolt, one of them a foreigner. French reporter Gilles Jacquier was hit by hostile fire in Homs last month while on assignment for France 2 television.

Media rights groups say the fatalities also include three Syrians who filmed government attacks on Homs and shared the footage with the world: cousins Rami and Basil al-Sayed and Mazhar Tayyara. Dollet called on Syria to stop "deliberately targeting" such "citizen journalists."

A ninth journalist, American New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Anthony Shadid, died in Syria from an apparent asthma attack on February 16, after he slipped into the country.

Dollet said Reporters Without Borders believes journalists should stay in Syria to document the conflict, provided they take precautions for their security.

-------------------------

Journalist Fatalities in Syria since Start of Anti-Assad Uprising

* Marie Colvin, American Sunday Times correspondent. Killed on February 22, 2012 in Homs.

* Remi Ochlik, French freelance photographer. Killed on February 22, 2012 in Homs.

* Rami al-Sayed, Syrian citizen journalist. Killed on February 21, 2012 in Homs. Cousin of Basil al-Sayed.

* Anthony Shadid, American New York Times reporter. Died on February 16, 2012 from an asthma attack at an undetermined location in Syria.

* Mazhar Tayyara, Syrian citizen journalist. Killed on February 4, 2012 in Homs.

* Gilles Jacquier, French journalist with France 2 television. Killed on January 11, 2012 in Homs.

* Shukri Abu al-Burghul, editor/reporter for state-owned newspaper Al-Thawra and state-owned Radio Damascus. Killed on January 3, 2012 in Damascus.

* Basil al-Sayed, Syrian citizen journalist. Killed on December 27, 2011 in Homs.

* Ferzat Jarban, freelance cameraman. Killed on November 19 or 20, 2011 in Al-Qasir.


Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by a joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid