Marie Colvin, 55 year old British journalist and Remi Ochlik 28 year old French photographer have been killed in the city of Homs after they were deliberately targeted by the regime. (These deaths confirm my belief that the Balibo 5 as they are called, Australian journalists murdered by Indonesian army in East Timor in the 1970s was also deliberate, they were not caught in the cross-fire as claimed). You can read about what happened at this link.
What I want to concentrate on is why the death of these two journalists is significant. Marie Colvin seems to have been a woman who cared about what was taking place, and Remi Ochlik seems to be one who was prepared to take the risks by getting a record in photographs of the truth regarding the Assad regime actions against their own people. Marie had been broadcasting her story and the last one that she broadcast was apparently quite horrific.
When the action in Syria began the Assad regime immediately expelled all foreign journalists, including the Lebanese. He did not want the world knowing the truth about his retaliation, which meant that we have been relying upon two versions of the truth. Assad claims one thing, but the truth is something else again. The journalists who did sneak into Syria were warned that if they were found that they would be targetted. A week ago they were given a warning that they had been found. The death of these journalists cannot be wiped away as being caught in the cross-fire because the Lebanese security services had in fact picked up conversation that pointed to the fact that this was a deliberate action.
Whilst I have not come out in support of the Syrian opposition, I do respect the fact that they have serious issues with the Assad regime, and that what they have been saying is more likely the truth than what is coming out of the Assad regime. The regime is shelling buildings without regard for civilians. They are honing in on any telecommunication signals and then blasting that building. Men, women and children are dying as a result of that shelling.
Just like the situation in Libya, I cannot accept that anyone sees such actions as being acceptable. It is not in the least bit acceptable to treat one’s own people in this fashion. In the case of Libya it was the deliberate shelling of the people that brought me to the side of the NTC. So for this reason, I will now take the side of the Syrian Opposition, even if they are far worse than Assad on the surface – except that we really do not know if that will be the case.
The deaths of Marie Colvin and Rei Ochlik for me are a turning point in that I am no longer neutral and will speak out against Assad until he is removed from power.