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Memorial to Fallen Journalists Rededicated

VOA reporter Mukarram Khan Aatif shown in northwest Pakistan in January 2012. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for killing Aatif in a mosque in Shabqadar, some 35 kilometers from Peshawar.
On May 13, the Newseum, a popular museum in Washington D.C. will rededicate its Journalist Memorial, which honors journalists who died or were killed while on the job. The Newseum is dedicated to championing the value of a free press and the men and women who dedicate their lives to journalism.

The names of 84 journalists who died covering the news in 2012 will be added to the memorial, the fourth largest number of journalists killed in a single year. Six more names will be added from other years. The Newseum Journalists Memorial recognizes 2,246 journalists who died or were killed while reporting the news dating back to 1837.

A Voice of America journalist will be among those honored. Mukarram Khan Aatif, a reporter for VOA’s Deewa Radio, was taking part in evening prayers at a local mosque near his home in the town of Shabqadar, Pakistan, last January when he was shot by unidentified gunmen.

The deadliest year for journalists so far has been 2007, with 95 killed while on the job. The years 1991 and 1994 saw 94 journalists lose their lives, while 2009 added 88 more names to the memorial.

Syria was the deadliest country for journalists in 2012, with 29 journalists losing their lives there that year. Among them were Marie Colvin of The Sunday Times; Gilles Jacquier, France 2; Remi Ochlik, freelance; Anthony Shadid, The New York Times; and Mika Yamamoto of Japan Press.

Somalia was the next most dangerous country for journalists, with 12 deaths, followed by Brazil and Pakistan with seven deaths each. Indonesia also saw six journalists lose their lives, five in a plane crash.

To be listed on the memorial, a journalists must have been a contributor of news, commentary or photography to a news outlet; an editor or news executive; a producer, camera operator, sound engineer or other member of a broadcast crew; or a documentary filmmaker.

Richard Engel, the chief foreign correspondent for NBC News will be the keynote speaker at the rededication ceremony. Last year, while covering the civil war in Syria, several members of his television crew were kidnapped and held hostage for five days by armed gunmen.

The Newseum dedicated its Journalists Memorial on April 4, 2008.