Thursday, April 21, 2011

Silencing the Witnesses

This disturbing and extraordinary photograph of a little girl in Iraq, covered in the blood of her parents who have just been murdered by American soldiers, was taken in 2005 by Chris Hondros, one of the two photojournalists killed yesterday in Misurata in Libya. The other was Tim Hetherington, one of the directors of the film "Restrepo." Both were killed when struck by a RPG while covering the attack on the rebel-held town by government forces.

Photojournalists are the eyes of the world: they reveal things that most of us would not otherwise see, bringing acts of horror and heroism to light. Smart governments try to co-opt their vision; others try to repress it, and the most brutal try to silence it with violence. These photographers were real heroes. Sadly much of what passes for a free press in the United States is the pathetic drivel of infotainment or corporate and rightwing propaganda merely disguised as news. The work of these two men transcended that base standard.

Information on the rising number of journalists targeted with violence and repression can be found at the Committee to Protect Journalists website.


  1. This just breaks my heart. So many innocents of war. I watched Restrepo last night, I had heard of it but had not seen it yet.

    A story told closeup of conflict in a remote valley of Afghanistan. I saw young men trying to be brave. I saw young men learning to kill so they can live. And young men facing the deaths of their own before their very eyes.

    During the final scenes of the movie where close ups of the soldiers faces were shown I covered the bottom of their faces and looked only at their eyes. In every case they were flat, devoid of life's sparkle - I doubt this will ever come back and they will carry these war scars to their graves.

    I wondered too what these Afghanistan farmers life would be like if we were not there. We didn't seem to be protecting them from the Taliban, rather using them to gain information.

    I guess I don't understand the basic premise. I thought we were looking for one man - Osama bin Laden declared leader of Al-Qaeda and the attacks on 9-11. Who presumably is in Pakistan. (?)

    Someone explain to me why a super secret stealth group of the US gov't can't accomplish this mission, quietly and undercover - or do I just watch too many spy-type movies?

    There is so much I don't understand. But I do understand the pain that is being inflicted on the lives of innocent and the involved. And it is so heartbreaking.

  2. I haven't seen Restrepo either. I'll add it to my list.

    Heartbreaking is the best word to use. Such a waste all around.

  3. Sebastian Junger remembers Tim Hetherington in a Vanity Fair article, beautiful tribute:

  4. THat's pretty intense Annie. Thanks for that...I would never have run across that.