Thursday, May 15, 2008

Journalism Is A Deadly Job - Bloggers Unite For Human Rights

"When journalists are deliberately shot, blown up, taken hostage, or imprisoned for simply doing their jobs, that's a crime. When these violations against journalists are committed in an armed conflict, they constitute grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions – they are war crimes," says Amnesty International.

In February 2002 journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped in Pakistan and murdered for no other reason than his job. 2006 was a year in which killings of reporters and media staff reached historic levels with at least 155 murders, assassinations and unexplained deaths, according to the International Federation of Journalists.

On 23 December, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution in which it condemned intentional attacks against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel in situations of armed conflict and called upon all parties to put an end to such practices.However, around the world, whether in war or in peace, too few states take their obligations seriously. In situations of open conflict, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than offering protection from the serious dangers journalists face, the authorities restrict their ability to report freely.

Journalists are often seen as an irritation – they publish stories that embarrass governments, they give coverage to the opposition and to campaigners, they expose human rights violations and other abuses of power. While individual journalists themselves might not be dissidents, the fact that they write about dissent and the issues that cause strife makes them targets of governments who want to suppress that same dissent.

As a writer, a lover of information, and a believer in human rights, I worry about the safety of
the men and women who risk their lives every day to tell us the truth about what is happening in the world. Governments have their own agendas. People who seek power will manipulate the local media but a freelance photo journalist or a war correspondent can break through the propaganda to show us reality.

Their dedication is fierce. Take for example, John D. McHugh, a British photojournalist who returned to Afghanistan six weeks after being shot in an ambush.

"I was hooked on the story in Afghanistan. Not the danger or adrenaline, as many suppose, but the story itself. I could see that the reality on the ground was very different to the story being told back in the west," says McHugh. "My photographs weren't getting published much, and the agency I worked for was not interested in sending me back there, but I had no stomach now for day-to-day press work in London. I wanted to be back in Afghanistan, reporting what I believed - and still believe - to be a hugely important story. "

We must demand that journalists are protected as civilians and afforded all their rights under the Universal Declaration for Human Rights. We should defend their right to report freely around the world without restriction or limited access. We should cry out collectively when one of these brave souls is taken hostage by a militant group and murdered on video, as was Daniel Pearl.
It is in the interest of truth and justice that we do so. Please look for other Bloggers Unite for Human Rights stories that will be posted all over the web today. As bloggers, we are using our collective voices to speak for those who cannot.

14 comments:

Gabriel said...

Hey Lisa, I´ve just read you post that you worte for Bloggers Unite For Human Rights. And yes I agree with you on the serious sitution for the journalist. I invite you to check my post, I give a brief panorama on human rights situation in Mexico, and their is a sub topic on Free Press in Mexico, which the situation is not good.

Lisa McGlaun said...

Gabriel,

I'll go check it out. This is a historic day for blogging. I hope many, many participate.

Peace,
Lisa

markstoneman said...

Do you know the radio show, "The State We're In" from Radio Netherlands and WAMU Washington, DC? They have a podcast too, and they often deal with human rights issues. The last podcast I listened to showcased a journalist in Mogadishu and another in Cameroon. Tough jobs that require enormous amounts of dedication.

Kali said...

Lisa,
Thank you for keeping Daniel Pearl in our memory. God Bless

Peggy Sue said...

Lisa,

Thanks, the violence directed toward journalists just goes to show what a critically important job they do and how threatening they are to totalitarian regimes.

Peace to you. I enjoyed your post.

Peggy Sue

Lisa McGlaun said...

Mark,

I've never heard of that show but it sounds like something I would like. Thanks for pointing it out to me.

Lisa

Lisa McGlaun said...

Kali,

I so admire Daniel and Marianne Pearl. His death was an awful tragedy. She has a book out about extrodinary women around the world. It's worth checking out.

Hugs,
Lisa

Lisa McGlaun said...

Peggy Sue,

Thanks. I am grateful that so far in the USA journalists don't have to worry but I know that they practices for coverin the war in Iraq have been very different for war correspondents, with limited access and controlled information.

Best Wishes,
Lisa

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Lisa,
Your writing is powerful here. I remember seeing a documentary a few years ago where journalists confronted the horrors they witnessed while covering wars and civil disorder. One cameraman for a news organization recalled witnessing a 12 year old girl get shot by a sniper. Bystanders rushed to aid the young girl and put her in a car as the cameraman followed with the tape rolling. He watched as the girl looked into the lens, and horrified, he caught her final breath on camera. It was later on, as he sadly viewed what he recorded, he realized that she was not looking into the camera, but seeing the reflection of herself in the camera's lens; and so, she watched herself die. This man fell into a deep state of depression as he felt that because he did his job, he caused undo pain and distress to this young girl in her final moments. This is an aspect of wartime journalism which is rarely discussed, the emotional toll placed on reporters, as news reporters need to portray themselves as invulnerable to be seen as impartial, and victims such as the late Daniel Pearl, whose murder was horrific and so unnecessary, remind us the reporters are human. Their work is so important, though. Thanks, Lisa. -Mike.

Stefanie said...

The journalists that are in these countries to tell an show others the truth about what is going on are very brave, and I admire and respect them. It's horrible what can happen to them, and yet they stay because they want everyone to see what really happens.

Dave Donelson said...

As a journalist, I appreciate your observations and support.
Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

Lisa McGlaun said...

Mike,

I know that things like that happen and it's awful. It's not a job I would want. I'd have to intervene or do something. I don't think I could accept that my job was to just watch things unfold infront of me.

Thanks for the thoughts.

Hugs,
Lisa

Lisa McGlaun said...

Stefanie,

I think that they should be afforded more protection and not made the target of attack.

Thanks for the comment.

Peace,
Lisa

Lisa McGlaun said...

Thank you Dave. I appreciate the comment.

Drop by again and join the conversation.

Best Wishes,
Lisa