Monday, September 11, 2006

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The Price of Freedom

Image: Cox & Forkum Steven Vincent -August 05,2005


August 02, 2006 was the first anniversary of Steven's brutal death

Steven Vincent: Bloggers remember one of their own

In New York last week, I had the privilege to meet with Lisa Ramaci-Vincent. We talked about the wonderful man Steven was, the profound marks he left behind and the recognition he received during his life and after his tragic death. He was an honest and gifted writer known to be attentive to those he met. He was a successful art critic in New York but touched by the horrors of September 11, exactly five years ago today, Steven Vincent decided to leave for Iraq. He devoted his time to follow the reconstruction but was savagely murdered in Basra during his third trip on August 02, 2005.

Admired by many, Steven always maintained a dignified humility in life. He will always be deeply missed.
***

A few days ago, Iraqi journalist Ali Fadhil gave a brief TV interview on one of the major news broadcaster. I think it was on CNN.
Most of the content of this interview can be found in an article Mr. Fadhil published on September 6, 2006. Iraq’s Endangered Journalists

During the interview, Mr. Fadhil describes the perils that Iraqi journalists are facing every day. He is genuinely and quite understandingly concerned for the safety of Iraqi journalists and for the freedom of the press.

While, in his article in The New York time, he recognizes that "building a free press in Iraq was one of America’s greatest achievements" he explains how the situation has been dangerously degrading since. He also reports that American soldiers are responsible for the death of 14 Iraqi journalists.

Towards the end of the TV interview Fadhil is asked to comment on freedom of speech during Saddam's reign. Visibly relieved, he strongly admits that freedom of the press and freedom of movement have hugely improved since the fall of the regime.

Ali Fadhil's devotion to his country is commendable and his worries regarding the freedom of the press are quite understandable but I wished that during his TV interview he had found something to say about the enormous efforts that brought him the new freedoms he so wants to keep.

We hear too little on the price we must pay to guarantee our liberties and we hear hardly nothing on the sacrifices America made to this day to free Iraq from its decades of violence and nightmarish regime. We are however constantly reminded of the growing discontent with American policies in Iraq and elsewhere and America's "mistakes".

We all know that the difficulties in Iraq are mostly due to terrorism of internal and external origins and to the struggle between Iraqis themselves. Meanwhile the Arab media and MSM have been consistently leading a dishonest coverage of the war. All this goes well with this blind hatred for Bush's administration but surely does not help Iraq's future and everyone's interest. The challenge is to overcome all this together.

Lisa Ramaci-Vincent had something to say on one of Ali Fadhil's observation and reminded us all that Steven Vincent paid with his life for reporting a story.

Forwarded by Lisa Ramaci-Vincent

The New York Time
A Journalist’s Death
To the Editor:
September 9, 2006

While reading “Iraq’s Endangered Journalists,” by Ali Fadhil (Op-Ed, Sept. 6), I was shocked by his claim that “foreign reporters ... have the advantage of being considered untouchable by the Iraqi police and security forces.”

Might I remind Mr. Fadhil that on Aug. 2, 2005, my husband, Steven Vincent, an American journalist living in and writing from Basra, was kidnapped and killed by five men in police uniforms?

Two days before Steven’s murder, The New York Times ran an Op-Ed article he wrote in which he disclosed how the British Army was ignoring both the infiltration of the Basra police force by Iranian-backed Shiite militias, and the resulting spike in fundamentalist violence. He specifically mentioned the white police vehicles used to abduct and kill an ever increasing number of people; two days later, one of those vehicles came for him.

Steven thus has the dubious distinction of being one of the few foreign journalists in this Iraq conflict specifically targeted for execution.


Lisa Ramaci-Vincent
New York, Sept. 7, 2006

Photo taken a couple weeks ago at ground zero.

Diane

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