At a time when violence against journalists is at an exceptionally high level, the city of Bayeux in Normandy is preparing with Reporters Without Borders to inaugurate a memorial to all the journalists who have been killed in the course of their work throughout the world since 1944.
Entirely given over to journalists and press freedom, the site will be the first of its kind in Europe. It will consist of a landscaped promenade with white stones bearing the names of nearly 2,000 journalists.
The inauguration took place on 7 October, coinciding with the award of the 13th annual Bayeux-Calvados Prize for War Correspondents.
The Journalists Memorial was designed and built by Samuel Craquelin, 45, an architect and landscape designer based in Lillebonne (Seine Maritime) who was the winner of the environment ministry’s National Landscape Prize in 1995 and the senate’s Heritage Landscape Prize in 2003.
In the course of the past two decades, journalists have become prime targets, perhaps more so than at any time in the past. The threats come from many different quarters. Repressive governments, rebel groups, armed militias, drug traffickers, extremist political parties and corrupt politicians - the enemies of the press keep on growing.
With 103 journalists and media assistants killed in the past three years, the war in Iraq is without doubt the deadliest armed conflict for the press since the Second World War. The recent fighting in Lebanon and Somalia have yet again shown that journalists working in war zones are especially exposed.
The number of journalists killed in the Vietnam war during the two decades from 1955 to 1975 is estimated to have been at least 63. A total of 49 journalists and media assistants were killed in the course of the fighting in former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 1995. The number killed during Algeria’s civil war from 1993 to 1996 was 77.
A total of 44 journalists and 17 media assistants have been killed worldwide since the start of 2006. Iraq, Philippines, Mexico, Colombia, Russia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have been the deadliest countries for the press in recent years.
Reporters Without Borders carries out a range of projects aimed at increasing the safety of journalists. For example, it is working with French legislators François Loncle and Pierre Lellouche - the authors of a report entitled “Safety of Journalists and Press Freedom in War Zones” - to get the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution protecting journalists and to get UNESCO to approve a convention reaffirming journalists’ right to safety in all circumstances.
Reporters Without Borders appeals to all those throughout the world who are committed to press freedom to help ensure that no one is omitted from the Memorial’s list of journalists killed.
If you know the names of any journalists who have been killed or who have died in the course of their work since 1944, send all the information at your disposal (names of the victims, media they worked for, and date and place of their death) by email to Reporters Without Borders at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org. After the information has been verified, their names will be inscribed one of the stones.
The first city in France to be freed in June 1944, Bayeux already has the Museum of the Battle of Normandy, about the allied landing, and the General De Gaulle Museum, which is housed in the building used by the first authorities to be established in liberated France.