Accountability for Assad’s Murder of Marie Colvin: A Precedent for Justice?

By Javier SethnessColvin RIP

Originally published on Notes Toward an International Libertarian Eco-Socialism

On Thursday, January 31, a U.S. judge found the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad responsible for the targeted assassination of U.S. journalist Marie Colvin in Homs in 2012. A reporter for The Sunday Times, Colvin had been covering the regime’s besiegement of the Baba Amr district of Homs, whose population had rebelled against Assad’s rule as part of the Revolution which had begun in the southern city of Der’aa in March 2011. Though evacuated with other internationals and journalists within days of her arrival as a precautionary measure in light of a threatened regime offensive, Colvin returned with the French photojournalist Rémi Ochlik and British photographer Paul Conroy to the improvised community media center from where they had been reporting. As Conroy describes, he, Colvin, and Ochlik believed that, by reporting on the regime’s besiegement of Baba Amr, they could affect world opinion and bring relief to civilians under fire.  It was from Baba Amr that Colvin courageously went live on CNN, the BBC, ITN News, and Channel 4 News, on February 21, 2012, to belie the Assad regime’s fabrications that its assault on the district was exclusively targeting so-called “terrorists.” It was for this reason that the regime killed her, the very next morning after the broadcast. They triangulated her location via her cell signal due to Colvin’s bravery in broadcasting the devastating truth to the world, murdering her and Ochlik in a targeted artillery strike. As judge Amy Jackson observes in her ruling, Colvin was “specifically targeted because of her profession, for the purpose of silencing those reporting on the growing opposition movement in the country.”

Colvin’s remarkable story is told in two recent films: Under the Wire and A Private War. I will not here be discussing Under the Wire, which is brilliantly reviewed by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad in the New York Review of Books here. Instead, I will offer some comments about A Private War, a 2018 dramatization of Colvin’s life, directed by Matthew Heineman and written by Marie Brenner and Arash Amel.

Though Colvin covered armed conflicts for three decades, in A Private War, we follow her in her later assignments to war zones in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. It is amidst covering Sri Lanka’s civil war that Colvin suffers a disfiguring injury, leading her to wear a distinctive eye-patch over her left orbit. While there is little sense in the film that Colvin had an anti-imperialist critique of U.S. participation in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, the film depicts her dynamic and increasingly humanist approach to journalism, culminating in her martyrdom in Homs in February 2012. During the Libya segment, which takes place shortly after the outbreak of protests against Mua’mmar al-Qaddafi, we see Colvin outright interviewing the autocrat. Though Colvin never had the chance to question Assad—she was no Vanessa Beeley, a neo-fascist propagandist, but rather the Syrian despot’s direct victim—we get the sense that the writers and director are here channeling Assad’s specter through Colvin’s interaction with Qaddafi, given their similarities, from political authoritarianism to inter-personal repulsiveness and sexism, and their common opportunistic use of nationalist, ‘socialist,’ and ‘anti-imperialist’ rhetoric to legitimize their crimes. It follows logically that both Qaddafi and Assad would present essentially all opposition to their rule as “al-Qaeda” and/or “terrorists,” as they have.

Continue reading “Accountability for Assad’s Murder of Marie Colvin: A Precedent for Justice?”

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Speeches from October 27 CPRSJ Demonstration against War Threats over Korea and Iran: A Student Perspective

by Christian, UC Santa Barbara Campus Marxist-Humanists

Brothers and sisters, comrades and friends!
Today we gather to say no to the capitalist system, which turns people into machines and machines into people.
We gather to say no to a Trump regime that would rather go to war than solve the problems of life here at home.
We say no to a regime that pretends to care about the danger of nuclear weapons, all the while pointing thousands of nuclear missiles at millions of innocent people all over the world.
We say no to a disastrous war that would harm both the people of North Korea, victims of their own regime and the American people, victims of Trump.
We say no to war with Iran, while the American ruling class cozies up to the oligarchs in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and their illegal war in Yemen.
We say no to the building of walls and the deportation of working people seeking a better life, while the rich get away with the most heinous crimes possible.
We say no to the making of millions of refugees at the hands of the bloodthirsty Bashar Assad regime and their criminal Russian backers.
We say no to an Iranian mullah regime that starves, harasses, and murders the Kurds and the representatives of Iranian workers.
We say no to the Russian plutocrats that brazenly rob the Russian people dry and distract their own population with war and strife.

And we will not rest until our very own immoral, wicked, oligarchical President and his crony friends are torn down and real democracy, true democracy, workers’ democracy takes place not just in this country but all over the world!
And we are going to fight, and we are going to struggle, and we are going to unite, and we are going to win. Because even though the oligarchs and the warmakers have their billions, we have the millions behind us!
And so brothers and sisters, thank you very much for your time.