Western and Arab nations to call for ceasefire.
The Obama administration is working with international leaders to bring about a ceasefire in Syria. They are in particular seeking an end to the siege of Homs, a city that has endured more than two weeks of shelling as forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have sought to crush dissident groups. The more than 70 Arab and European countries that are seeking the ceasefire along with the United States, known as the "Friends of Syria," will demand immediate access to the city for badly needed medical aid and humanitarian attention. According to sources, in the talks, which will take place Friday in Tunisia, they are asking for a response from Assad “within days.” The leaders, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, are also asking for increased recognition of the Syrian National Council and stricter sanctions against Assad’s regime. More than 50 were reported dead in the nation on Thursday.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, the head of the Committee to Protect Journalists discusses why traditional media and citizen reporters are a threat to struggling dictators.
It’s been a tragic week for journalists in the Middle East, with news of the deaths of the New York Times’ Anthony Shadid, Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin and French photographer Rémi Ochlik. As the Arab Spring revolutions continue to unfold across the region, the battle to get information out of conflict zones to the world at large has been a dangerous one for reporters of all kinds, from citizen journalists with camera phones to the staff of major global publications. This truth became painfully apparent with the journalism community’s latest losses: it was suggested yesterday that Colvin, Ochlik and their colleagues may have been directly targeted in shelling by the Syrian army, with French president Nicolas Sarkozy saying the journalists were “assassinated”. The pair were killed inside a house that was reportedly being used as a press center.
On Tuesday night, Joel Simon—executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists—sat down with The Daily Beast at London’s Frontline Club ahead of the launch of the CPJ’s annual report, Attacks on the Press, to discuss how the combination of social media, traditional reporting and citizen journalism are posing a serious threat to oppressive regimes—and why struggling dictators are likely to continue to target journalists as their power crumbles.
Simon: “There’s a lot of new potential using these technologies and using these tools, but governments now recognize clearly what’s at stake. What’s interesting about what’s happening in Syria is that’s really been a battle over information. The Syrian opposition is going to get fragments of information out, and some horrific images, but it didn’t really reach the broader public in the same way as images from Tahrir Square did, because it wasn’t amplified by the presence of international journalists on the ground inside the country. That dynamic is starting to change now. The images of carnage and destruction and violence from inside Syria are getting out now, because journalists are able to get in, a handful of them. Then they’re using these images and videos provided by people on the ground—but they’re reaching a global audience, and that has changed the whole dynamic.
The American journalist Marie Colvin, left, and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed in Homs, Syria, on Wednesday when government forces shelled a building being used as a media center. (AP Photo)
Wounded in attack that killed Marie Colvin.
French journalist Edith Bouvier, who was wounded in the same attack that killed Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik, on Thursday requested evacuation from Syria to receive a life-saving operation. In a video posted online by a opposition activist, Bouvier said that Syrian doctors are trying to treat her but that she needs an “urgent operation,” and asks to be evacuated to Lebanon. In a separate video, the British photographer Paul Conroy, who was also injured in the attack, said he is being taken care of by the medical staff of the Free Syrian Army. He said he is “absolutely OK” despite having three large wounds on his leg. French President Nicolas Sarkozy called the attack on the journalists “murder,” while some intelligence has suggested that the Syrian Army targeted their location.
Marie Colvin, an acclaimed American reporter, died alongside a French photographer during an assault on the city of Homs. See her final interview, in which she describes Syrian forces’ deadly siege.
Intercepted communication between Syrian army officers reportedly revealed that they had pledged to “kill any journalist who set foot on Syrian soil”—resulting in the death of American journalist Marie Colvin and French photographer Rémi Ochlik on Wednesday, Britain’s Telegraph reported. Witnesses said Colvin and Ochlik were killed by a rocket-propelled grenade as they tried to exit a house used by foreign journalists. In intelligence intercepted by Lebanon, Syrian army officers allegedly said they would target the journalists and then claim they had been killed in crossfire with “terrorist groups.” Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said London would “redouble their efforts” to end “Assad’s campaign of terror,” while French President Nicolas Sarkozy said “enough is enough. This regime must go.” London summoned their ambassador to Damascus in protest of killing of Colvin, who worked was working as a correspondent for the Sunday Times.
Mom says slain journalist was “totally dedicated.”
The mother of one of the journalists slain in Syria said her daughter had been planning to leave the country but stayed an extra day to finish reporting a story “she felt was very important.” Rosemarie Colvin told Newsday that her daughter, Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin, was “totally dedicated to getting the story straight and getting it out.” Colvin and French photographer Rémi Ochlik were killed by shelling in Homs on Wednesday while two other journalists were wounded when rockets hit the house they were staying in. Very few foreign journalists have been allowed in Syria, and the Syrian government on Wednesday ordered all journalists who have “entered Syria illegally” to report to the nearest immigration center. Colvin and Ochlik had reportedly been smuggled into Syria.
Marie Colvin, who was killed by Syrian shelling in Homs today, put her life at risk to report on atrocities from Sri Lanka to Baghdad. Her friend Christopher Dickey remembers her tenacity. Plus, T.D. Allman on Colvin’s courageous career.
On the last full day of her life, Marie Colvin of The Sunday Times of London posted a note to a colleague on a Facebook page for war correspondents and humanitarian workers:
"I think the reports of my survival may be exaggerated. [I am] in Baba Amr,” she wrote. That neighborhood of Homs has become the focal point of resistance to the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, and in retribution its people and their lightly armed defenders have been subjected to more than two weeks of relentless pounding by government artillery. “Sickening,” wrote Marie. “[I] cannot understand how the world can stand by and I should be hardened by now. Watched a baby die today. Shrapnel, doctors could do nothing. His little tummy just heaved and heaved until he stopped. Feeling helpless. As well as cold! Will keep trying to get out the information.”
This morning at least two of the shells that rained down on Baba Amr landed on the building where Marie and a handful of other journalists were holed up. She did not survive. Nor did a younger French colleague, photographer Rémi Ochlik.
Perhaps I should say at this point that I have known Marie as a good friend since we first met in Libya in 1986 around the time President Ronald Reagan bombed Tripoli and Benghazi to punish the dictator Muammar Gaddafi for supporting terrorists. Never mind that she was an Ivy League American; she was absolutely at home in the company of the great British rogue correspondents, of whom there were many in those days, and she had a peculiar knack for getting tyrants to talk.
As Red Cross pleads for ceasefire.
Ignoring Red Cross pleas for a ceasefire, Syrian forces bombarded a rebel-held neighborhood of Homs with heavy artillery, killing at least 100 people and wounding hundreds more, according to activists. Ten children and three women were reportedly among the casualties. The Red Cross is trying to negotiate a pause in the fighting to bring aid to civilians in Homs, who have been under siege for 18 days. In the capital of Damascus, soldiers fired on demonstrators, wounding at least four. The Friends of Syria contact group, consisting of Western powers and the Arab League, meets on Friday to discuss the situation. China and Russia say they would rather back Bashar al-Assad’s promised reforms.
Braving sniper fire and artillery rounds, a French photographer going by the name "Mani" produced this shocking and riveting report from the battered Syrian city of Homs.
Former Syrian prime minister Riad Hijab grabbed headlines at a press conference Tuesday, urging Syrians to rebel and claiming President Assad's regime is 'on the verge of collapse.'
Before jumping into Egypt or Syria, the U.S. needs to think about what comes next, next, and next. And then, don’t jump, writes Leslie H. Gelb.
A country at war with itself. Bombs and civilian massacres. Yet, in Damascus, the music plays on.
There is no sign of capitulation as the Syrian government’s bombardment of the city heads into its 20th day.