Award-winning journalist Marie Colvin was killed on Feb. 22 in Homs, Syria. She was a war correspondent for the Sunday Times, a British newspaper, for 20 years. She covered the Syrian Civil War during a time when the Syrian government severely restricted foreign journalists access to the country.
According to CNN, Colvin was in a rebel press center building with five other international journalists last Wednesday morning. As is customary in the Middle East, each journalist removed his or her shoes before entering the house. The Syrian government shelled the building. Colvin ran to retrieve her shoes when a missile landed just a few yards away.
The blast killed Colvin and French photojournalist Remi Ochlik.
Colvin was internationally recognized because of her journalistic ambition in regions of the world plagued with conflict. This is perhaps best symbolized by an eye-patch she wore after losing her eye to a shrapnel wound in Sri Lanka in 2001.
The Syrian government still denies that an armed conflict is occurring, despite the outpour of videos and pictures that have been released by Syrian rebels of rocket fire, tanks and massacred civilians.
According to the Syrian opposition, 9,574 people have been killed in conflict; however, U.N. officials have said that the death toll is approximately 7,500.
Almost cynically, on Feb. 28, the Syrian government declared that a referendum on a Syrian Constitution had been passed by the Syrian people and congratulated those who participated in this “democratic process.” The Syrian regime called this a “move toward reform,” according to CNN. The regime claimed that this Constitution has overwhelming support by the Syrian people.
U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton called the vote on this new constitution a “phony referendum.” The European Union has also dismissed the validity of these results; they exist simply to pacify Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s critics.
The illusions of the Syrian government only reinforce why journalists like Marie Colvin are necessary.
Russia and China have used their veto power twice to block any action by the U.N. Security Council. Russia, China and Iran are the Syrian regimes main allies. The U.S. and Europe continue to push economic sanctions, but it is certainly not enough to stop the regimes relentless slaughter of its own people.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe condemned the U.N. Security Council’s “impotence” on Syria and accused the Syrian government of “massacres and odious crimes.”
U.S. President Barack Obama has repeatedly called for Al-Assad’s regime to step out of power. He also argued that the U.S. cannot be bystanders while the Syrian government massacres civilians.
International journalists are occasionally put in positions that require unbiased excellence in the face of dangerous conflict and death. These are the situations Colvin frequently put herself in to expose critical and necessary truths. Her work stops governments from veiling information or manipulating facts.
Historically, journalism has always played a pivotal role in our country. Whether it is exposing the horrors of unregulated industries or provoking civic action, journalism has played a role in facilitating change. Colvin continued this seemingly unstoppable trend and ultimately died for it.
Whatever happens, it is important that we gratefully respect Colvin’s work. She was instrumental in keeping this conflict from falling into oblivion. She showed the world the tragedy and the massacre of the Syrian people and the travesty of Al-Assad’s regime.