American journalist, Marie Colvin, died in a shelling attack in the Syrian city of Homs today. She was not alone. French photographer Remi Olchik was also killed. British photographer Paul Conroy was wounded, as was Edith Bouvier of Le Figaro. It is feared that Mlle. Bouvier will bleed out before adequate medical attention can reach her. The ICRC has been unsuccessful in getting both sides to agree to a two-hour daily cease-fire to allow medical and humanitarian aid to enter the savaged areas of the city.
This was not Marie’s first brush with danger. She thrived on covering wars, believing that what she did had purpose and could bring about change. If you have noticed, in the pictures of her, she is wearing an eye patch. She lost that eye to shrapnel in Sri Lanka in 2001. Still she was motivated to continue doing what she believed in. No tribute to Marie would be complete without mentioning her awe of the quiet bravery of the civilians she met in Syria, in Sri Lanka, in every war torn area that she covered.
One of the things I actually managed to leave out of my very long blog about Syria this week is that the violence did not come from the citizens that were protesting. The citizen protests were wholly peaceful. It was the groups outside of Syria that immediately jumped in with weapons and violence. The people of Syria got a little caught up in it, but after increasingly violent crackdowns by the Security Forces, most of them have opted to return to non-violent protests. The majority of what you see on the news is not the people of Syria fighting, but fighters from exiled factions coming in to try to wrest control of the country away from Assad.
This is what…pardon the pun….has everyone up in arms. The Arab League is concerned about these external factions gaining an influential foothold in the country by promoting violence. Civil War, by the way, does not necessarily have to entail guns. It is a far more powerful and shocking image to see non-violent protesters facing down weapons. Shooting and all of that, while not admirably, is the province of those trained to die. In the Western media, because it supports the best in ratings and the old school hat trick of violence, is promoting the image that this is a bloody and violent revolt. It is not, that is being created by external factions that is being created and fueled by the West. As I said in the earlier blog, there is a moral struggle going on between the fading super powers and the rising three about the nature of global intervention.
I have a fellow in my Google+ stream, Ali Alhasani, who is a blogger and citizen journalist who usually covers Jordan and every morning he has been posting (along with the account ‘Syrian Revolution’) a daily stream of news and video from Syria. From Homs. Every morning I am starting my day seeing images that are not shown in the Western, or more accurately, American media.
Ali and the others do this because they know that the West is not really paying attention. We have our Whitney Houstons, our Rick Santorums, our Adeles and Strauss-Kahns to occupy us.
It is not until there were two deaths of Western journalists that people began to notice that something awful and powerful is going on. Two deaths out of the…what was the number I quoted in the blog? Two deaths out of the over 5,000 Syrian citizens and 2,000 military members who have died in Syria so far.
Marie Colvin would see it as a kind of justice that it is her death that has pulled people’s heads out of their respective streams of self and begun to notice what is going on. She was fueled by the belief that she made a difference and that she has. Both in life and in death.
There are more who need emergency aid in Syria than Mlle Bouvier, but if it is her tragic need that gets the West off its duff to secure aid and forget the guns for a minute, so be it.
I am sure no one will argue with the whys of the channel opening for the ICRC.
You can read the blog “Why Syria Matters” at the link below
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