March 09, 2012

Wyden Resolution Condemns the Killing of Journalists in Syria

Washington, D.C. – As the armed conflict in Syria continues to escalate, the brave men and women providing news reports from that region are increasingly in danger. Many have been detained or arrested while covering the unrest and some have been wounded or killed. Recognizing the essential service these reporters provide to the rest of the world at great personal risk, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) along with U.S. Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ),  Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have introduced a resolution in the Senate condemning the killing of journalists in Syria and calling on the government to open the country up to independent and foreign news media and end its media blackout.

“Being a journalist in a warzone means putting one’s life at risk every day to make sure that the world is informed about some of the most important global events,” Wyden said. “The importance of this job cannot be understated and anytime one is hurt or killed it is a great tragedy and sacrifice. As the son of a journalist, the reports from the ground that war correspondents provide and the sacrifices they make are especially important to me. This resolution condemns in the strongest possible terms violence against journalists by the Syrian government and calls on them to open their borders to the transparency of the free press.”

“Over the last year, courageous journalists have risked and given their lives to tell the world about the horrific crimes being committed in Syria,” Lieberman said. “Because of their courage and sacrifice, we now know in great detail what Bashar al Assad is doing to his own people. The question is whether we summon the will to mobilize and lead the decisive international intervention necessary to stop this campaign of slaughter.”

“The tragic deaths of Marie Colvin and her other brave colleagues are a sad reminder of the sacrifices war journalists make to bring us the truth about what is happening in the world. We stand united in condemning the unspeakable violence committed by the Syrian regime. At a time when the world urgently needs information on the crisis in Syria, the government must open its borders to allow reporters to shine a light on the atrocities of war,”
said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Armed Services Committee.

“The journalists who have traveled to Syria, like my friend Marie Colvin, went there to make sure the dead did not die unheralded, and the killers did not escape unwatched.  In short, they went there to bear witness,”
said Whitehouse.  “Passing this resolution is the least we can do to honor the hard work and devotion of those journalists who gave their lives to illuminate the atrocities taking place there.”

“With this resolution we stand in solidarity with the many intrepid journalists who put their lives at risk to show the world the tragic events occurring in Syria,”
Menendez said. “Today, we recognize the sacrifice made by these journalists, and condemn the Government of Syria’s use of violence and oppression as we support the Syrian people in their pursuit of liberty, justice, and freedom.”

“Journalists have shown the world the terrible suffering of the Syrian people.  We condemn in the strongest way Syria’s awful treatment of civilians, and the men and women who are bravely reporting on the actions of this brutal regime,” Bingaman said.  

"The Syrian government must heed the call of the United States and the international community and allow humanitarian groups and the press access to the country.  The situation in Syria is alarming for its brutality, and the violence must stop now," Lautenberg said.  

“Unconscionably, the Syrian Government has resorted to killing, torturing, and abducting foreign journalists in an effort to stem the free flow of information to the international community,” said Blumenthal. “This resolution is a strong statement and clear signal to the Syrian Government that violent restriction to freedom of the press will not be tolerated by the United States.”

Since the start of the conflict in Syria, at least nine members of the media have been killed covering the uprising in Syria. Two of them were killed when their makeshift press center was destroyed by shelling by the Syrian government. The Syrian government has denied entry to foreign journalists. They have detained, beaten, tortured and killed members of the media to keep the free flow of information from being reported to the outside world.