Thursday May 3, 2012 an article was released in the British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ entitled: Journalists being killed at ‘astonishing pace’. The United Nation Associated Press reported that ‘Reporters without Boarders’ were condemning the ‘astonishing pace’ journalists were being killed. The reality of the deaths has a chilling threat upon our freedom of press. According to The Committee To Protect Journalists, in 2014 67 journalists were killed. There is tragedy in all loss, however, the death of a reporter is an important one to highlight.
Journalists have the ability to be our one true public servant & play a key role in any true democratic process. Despite mine & most likely all of our inherent mistrust in media,which is certainly not misguided, when we live in such a corporate sponsored era of reporting, the journalist is still a figure in society we should hold in regard. Algerian born philosopher and author, Albert Camus, once said: “A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad.” I believe this to be true – the media is simply a proving ground and it can be either full of bad reporting or good – it all depends on the journalist. So far this year, another 44 journalists have been murdered but not all get named:
Serena Shim was a 29 year old Lebanese/American reporter born October 29th 1985. On October the 19th 2014 she was assassinated. Now, to understand how & why Serena is so important you will need a little context. According to her mother Judith Poe, Serena was a “loving daughter” & “had a thirst for truth”. Serena worked as a reporter for Press TV, an English language Iranian news network that broadcasts world wide. On October 18th 2014 Serena aired on TV with a breaking story. She had reported that Islamic State/ISIS militants had crossed from Turkey into Syria on trucks bearing the symbols of the World Food Organization and other NGOs. Serena also stated in her report that the Turkish intelligence agency had threatened her and accused her of spying & that she was “a bit frightened” by what Turkish intelligence “might use against me.” It would seem that she had every right to be fearful – Serena is not the first journalist to die in Turkey. The country’s human rights record is tarnished by the bodies of dead members of the press. Turkey is labelled according to the press freedom watchdog, ‘Reporters Without Borders’ as the world’s largest prison for journalists. Between 1992 -2015, 1118 journalists have died in Turkey either murdered or caught in cross fire/combat. This high death toll and infamous title becomes that more damning when we consider Turkey is part of NATO with America while it sits on the European Commission with the UK & other EU countries.
Serena had been hounded by Turkey’s national intelligence agency over her reporting of the region. Her reports shone a light on Turkey’s involvement with the IS crisis, and how the country seemed comfortable with ISIS militants within the region of Kabonê, which is now a battlefield between Kurdish forces & IS. We now know Turkey used this situation to it’s advantage to attack the Kurdish populated territory on August 12, 2015 (instead of ISIS). The evidence out there points to Turkey striking a deal with ISIS & allowing the movement through the country. Without Serena’s reporting this would have been lost in history and these crimes forgotten.
One day after her report on October the 19th 2014, Serena was tragically killed in a mysterious and suspicious car crash in a rental car with her cousin on her way back to her hotel. The report states she was hit by a heavy vehicle that collided with driver’s side killing Serena. Her cousin fortunately managed to escape with injuries.
It should come to no surprise that the Turkish press was sketchy on it’s report & gave very little details to what actually happened. Media censorship is a frequent abuse in Turkey. A current example of this can be found in the recent attack in Ankara where we can see how restrictive the Turkish media is (Link). Press TV tried to reach out and find out more but claimed that both the vehicle & driver had disappeared despite the Turkish government alleging his arrest. In a report on the Press TV website, a London-based political analyst claimed that “our sister Serena” had been “assassinated by the government of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”
Serena had dedicated her life to reporting & was torn away from her family at far to young of an age. Her name should be remembered and her contribution to the truth should be heard.