Marie Colvin

War correspondents make a  difference in exposing the horrors of war, where armies, tribes and terrorists clash. Marie Colvin, the Sunday Times war correspondent was deliberately killed by the regime of the Syrian President Bashr al-Assad in 2012. After a legal battle led by her sister Cathleen Colvin, a US judge in the last week of January 2019 ruled that she was specifically targeted because of her profession, and ordered Syria to pay $302.5 million (£ 231 million) in compensation. Marie had a distinctive eye patch, the result of losing sight in one eye under fire in Sri Lanka. The journalist in the combat zone has become a prime target. Marie's fearless reporting from Baba Amr, a besieged enclave of Homs, infuriated the Assad regime. Plans were laid at the highest level to silence her once for all. Paul Conroy the photographer who accompanied Marie, recalled how the incoming shells "bracketed" their make-shift shelter, before closing in on their target. Marie was killed, along with Remi Ochlik, a French photo-journalist. Paul was hit in the leg, and was lucky to survive. Families of the victims have made it a mission to hold Assad to account, and seizing as many of his foreign assets as possible. The money will be devoted to humanitarian causes supported by the Marie Colvin Memorial Fund. As yet the United Nations has failed to formally recognise as a war crime, the deliberate killing of journalists. A documentary, "Under the Wire" chronicles Paul's last days in Homs with Marie.

How many journalists die each year in combat zone is not recorded by the mainstream media. The Committee to Protect Journalists, tries to highlight the plight of war correspondents and journalists in general worldwide. In most third world countries where wars in one form or other, are continuing round the year, journalists take tremendous risk to report on conflicts. Even in case of civil wars and state sponsored army actions against rebels, journalists die, sometimes in cross-fire.

Syria is in ruins but the war is not yet over. Today half of Syria's population are refugees, millions of them in desperate winter circumstances, in impoverished camps that have suffered floods and freezing temperatures. Children are dying of cold and hunger. It is happening while Assad's fascist regime massacres its political prisoners and assassinates those who have officially surrendered their arms and freedom.

But the major powers only interest in Syria and its people is in terms of their own geo-strategic plan or money to be made from the "rebuilding" of devastated Syria. The Syrian war is all about regime change and war correspondents suffer for the gamble the West is playing. The journalists fraternity across the world would always like to see no more "Marie Colvin" episode in battle fields.

Vol. 51, No. 38, Mar 24 - 30, 2019