A year ago today the world lost two brave journalists. Marie Colvin, foreign correspondent for The Sunday Times and Rémi Ochlik, a French photographer, were killed during the intense bombardment of Bab Amr, a district of Homs, by Syrian government forces.
Today, on the one year anniversary of their deaths, a campaign has launched to raise awareness of the dangers faced by journalists who risk their lives to tell stories that would otherwise go unreported. A Day Without News invites people to register their support and promote the campaign through social media, and by pledging support on their website.
Marie passionately believed in the need to bear witness, which she viewed as her mission as a journalist whatever the cost. Her courage inspired a generation of young journalists, particularly female war reporters.
Right up until the day before she died she gave broadcast interviews via satellite phone under heavy shelling to highlight the dire humanitarian situation for civilians in Bab Amr. She would want us to think of and acknowledge the thousands of Syrian lives lost too. Marie did what she did because she had faith that her reporting could make a difference. Perhaps, by supporting this campaign, we can make some small difference too.
According to the International Press Institute, 132 journalists were killed last year, 90 of whom died while reporting from war zones. It was the worst ever year for journalist deaths. Over the past decade 945 conflict reporters and photojournalists have lost their lives.
Aidan Sullivan, vice president at Getty Images, who is leading the campaign, said it would lobby governments to pursue justice for journalists who died while reporting from the world’s most dangerous places. 'Without these journalists bearing witness, atrocities, committed in war would go unremarked and it is an equal cruelty that their own deaths go without justice,' Sullivan said.
Rémi Ochlik's girlfriend, Emilie Blachere, today published a heartfelt love letter listing all the things she adored about him. “I would have loved to spend my life adding to this list. Ochlik, I loved you,” she wrote.
In a moving tribute, Paul Conroy, the photographer who was on assignment with Marie and was wounded in the leg during the same attack, wrote on his blog: 'Marie will be in my heart for as long as I walk this troubled earth. To all her friends, family and admirers of her work, I’m so sorry I never brought her home to you.'
Words: Sara Hashash, Sunday Times stringer in Cairo (twitter: @sarahashash)