As we discuss the top stories of 2006, it is appropriate to remember those that brought us these stories. Especially the brave men and women in journalism that lost their lives for their passion.
With a few hours to go before the New Year, at least 155 journalists have been murdered or lost in the line of duty. The International Federation of Journalists which represents over 500,000 journalists, released their statistic earlier today.
The International Federation of Journalists report can be found here, below are a few selections from the article.
During the year the numbers began to accumulate with civil strife and resistance to military occupation in Iraq. The IFJ says media became prime targets of terror attacks or victims of poor soldiering. By the year’s end, 68 media staff had been killed, bringing to 170 the number killed in the country since the invasion in April 2003.
The first place that comes to mind is Iraq. The bloodshed is more and more terrifying as the days go on. The same can be said for those that cover the war. Particularly disheartening is how so many were killed by our own troops.
The focus once again is on Iraq, where the IFJ has been campaigning vigorously over impunity in the killing of journalists. For the last three years the IFJ has organised a day of protest on April 8 – the day in 2003 when three journalists died under US fire in Baghdad. There have been 19 such killings in Iraq and in all these cases media organisations and victims’ families are still waiting for independent and credible reports about what happened.
The fact that the families of the fallen can not get the truth out of the Pentagon is abhorrent. Where is the accountability? Where is the outrage? This is something the investigations of the upcoming Democratic Congress needs to focus on.
Other conflict zones such as Oaxaca, Venezuela and Columbia claimed 37 lives. The Philippines and Sri Lanka saw the loss of 34 journalists. Even if they hadn't lost their lives, it is still a dangerous place, as points out.
The hostility towards the press can be felt outside identified conflict zones. The tragedy that befell Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya:
Novaya Gazeta editor Dmitry Muratov said that on the day of her murder, Politkovskaya had planned to file a lengthy story on torture practices believed to be used by Chechen security detachments known as Kadyrovites which are loyal to pro-Moscow Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov. A day after Politkovskaya was found dead, police seized her computer hard disk and material she had assembled for an investigative article; the story may now never be published. Additionally, Muratov said, two photographs of the suspected torturers have disappeared.
Simply incredible, where do these stories disappear to?!?
With all this doom and gloom, what is there to do? Well the UN has started taking action. On December 23rd a resolution was passed unanimously to hold governments more accountable in protecting journalists. Will the resolution help? Time will only tell. Yet something needs to be done to stop all this killing.
I'll leave you with a few faces that the journalism community lost this year and a more complete list of the fallen here.
Paul Douglas (May 2006)
Mwamba Bapuwa (July 8, 2006)
layal najib (July 23, 2006)
Anna Politkovskaya (October 7, 2006)