Many of us envy the foreign correspondent and the war photographer. After all, from our armchairs, the smell of adventure, of potential glory and of a story, seem irresistible. However, few of us would want to travel into places from which there is no escape, where no one can answer your cry for help and where you are at the mercy of the whims and actions of an unhinged, malevolent force. Even fewer of us would agree to pay the ultimate price this profession occasionally demands.
Today, both a French journalist and a British photographer lie injured in Homs, a city under siege, hemmed in by pro-Assad forces that have already killed two of their brethren. Ironically, this comes just a day after a British journalist and French photographer died while covering the Syrian military’s siege of Homs.
For these injured journalists, Edith Bouvier and Paul Conroy, it must be terrifying to listen for the sound of incoming shells and hope that they are not destined to hit you, to wonder whether you too shall perish in a city where so many before you have already been killed.
In the context of Syria, where so many innocents have already died, this media attention on the deaths of two foreign reporters and the injury of a further two may seem excessive. It is not. These four journalists have endeavored to bring us the truth about the ongoing massacres in Syria. They came not in an official press vehicle or with official passes together with the protection those afford; rather they were smuggled through a network of undercover activists into a city of nightmarish scenes and of death. They came to bear witness in Homs to acts perpetrated by an out-of-control regime; they came to tell the Syrians' plight to the world at large.
Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik were killed trying to convey to us the ugly extent of what is happening in Homs, reports unfiltered and uncensored by the vile regime undertaking a cleansing of the city. They died so that we may know the truth and would not be blind to the actions of Assad’s brutal forces. Now Bouvier and Conroy lie injured, needing immediate help to leave Homs and receive medical attention.
Western nations should immediately pressure Syria to allow this to occur as swiftly as possible, along with a swift cessation of violence against the civilian population of Homs.
Indeed we often forget, in our romantic illusions about the foreign correspondent, that it requires more than just a story or event. It requires stamina, courage under fire, resilience and bravery to withstand the horrors of warfare, let alone to return time and time again to report on it.
The world stands seemingly powerless to intervene in Syria. These brave journalists are the lifeline to those civilians in Homs, Hama, Deraa, and Damascus, who need their story to be told, lest the world forget.
The last words belong to French correspondent, Patrick Chauvel, currently in Syria, who wrote in Le Monde: “The deaths of these journalists (Remi Ochlik and Marie Colvin) is very sad … but they died whilst doing their job, they did not make a mistake. When one is in an armed conflict with civilians, it’s Russian roulette. The essential thing, though, is to continue to send journalists in Syria and tell the story.”
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons