Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Another Year Of Living Dangerously

THAT SAYING “war is hell” may be trite for some; but to the likes of photojournalists Alexander Klimchuk and Grigol Chikhladze it became a definite reality. Both lost their lives this past Sunday as the Russian ‘bear’ savaged the miniscule forces of Georgia in a furious march involving the disputed region of South Ossetia.
While thousands of innocent people have been slaughtered and lands destroyed, Klimchuk and Chikhladze also became victims for they were just doing their jobs in covering the conflict. Of course, the real reason for Russia with its 90,000 troops (800 tanks and 360 combat aircraft) compared with Georgia’s 18,000 troops (128 tanks, 9 combat aircraft) venturing from Moscow could be that precious commodity -- OIL.
Before getting back to the two journalists, it would be best to explain that one of the world’s most strategic oil pipelines runs from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean; and it passes through Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey.
A key newspaper report claims that it is “the only pipeline between Asia and Europe that doesn’t pass through Russia or Iran.”
U.S. President Bush interrupted his Beijing scenario with harsh words about the Russian intrusion this week. They were definitely directed at his one-time pal, Putin, who has started to show his true militaristic colours.
And there’s the report, and I’ll quote from Arutz Sheva news wire that “Israel decided to stop its support for Georgia after Moscow made it clear to Jerusalem and Washington that Russia would respond to continued aid for Georgia by selling advanced anti-aircraft systems to Syria and Iran.”
And into this muddled mess of death and misery, there are reports of hundreds of Israeli military experts currently in Georgia.
However, this column was intended to outline the dangers of being a journalist in such a “war zone.”
Klimchuk was on assignment for the Russian news agency Itar Tass while Chikhladze was with Russian Newsweek.
The Committee to Protect Journalists – an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending freedom worldwide – reported on its website that 15 journalists had been killed in 2008 prior to the Russia-Georgia “war.” It was also noted that 130 journalists and 50 media workers have been killed since March 2003 in Iraq.
Meanwhile, in a column in March 2007, the Associated Press quoted Rodney Pinder of the International News Safety Institute (INSI), based in Brussels, Belgium that “13 journalists have died in Russia since (Vladimir) Putin came to power, and there hasn’t been a conviction.”
However, the deaths of Klimchuk and Chikhladze were killed by South Ossetian militia after traveling from Georgia.
In addition, two reporters – Winston Featherly and Temutri Kiguradze of the English-language The Messenger – were hurt and hospitalized in North Ossetia in the same attack in which Klimchuk and Chikhladze died. In addition there were reports that at least eight injuries to media members on the weekend.
In emphasizing that being a journalist is indeed a dangerous occasion, the following are the 15 journalists, according to CPJ, who had lost their lives this year:
Afghanistan: 1. Carsten Thomassen, Dagblader, Jan. 15, Kabul.
Bolivia: 1. Carlos Quispe Quispe, Radio Municipal, March 29, Pucarani.
Cambodia: 1. Khen Sambo, Moneaseka Khmer, July 11, Phnom Penh.
India: 1. Ashok Sodhi, Daily Excelsior, May 11, Samba.
Iraq: 5. Alaa Abdul-Karim al-Fartoosi, Al Forat, Jan. 29, Balad, Saleheddin province; Shihab al-Tamimi, Iraqi Journalists Syndicate, Feb. 27, Baghdad; Sarwa Abdul-Wahab, freelance, Murasalon, May 4, Mosul; Soran Mama Hama, Livin, July 21, Kirkuk.
Israel-Gaza: 1. Fadel Shana, Reuters, April 16, Gaza Strip.
Pakistan: 3. Chrshti Mujahid, Akbar-e-Jehan, Feb. 9, Quetta; Siraj Uddin, The Nation, Feb. 29, Mingora.
Somalia: 2. Hassan Kafi Hared, Somali National News Agency, Jan. 28, Kismayo; Nasteh Dahir Farah, freelance,June 7, Kismayo.
THAT’S WHAT SHE PREDICTED: Bulgarian prophetess Vanga, who died in 1996 at the age of 84, apparently predicted the collapse of the World Trade Twin Towers because of “steel birds”; the Chernobyl disaster; Boris Yeltsin’s election win, and also, that Russia would one day “dominate” the world.


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