Kemp: blue flak jackets make journalists a target
Monday November 12 2007
The explanation given by unknown folks who sent Short-Message Service thru their mobile phone to 4 reporters operating in Abuja, the Nigerian Fed. Capital Territory a fortnight gone is as crucial or threatening, against the background of the rise in the series of hideous murder of newshounds, as the end that the message sought to realize.
The unknown people claimed they were out to destroy the 4 reporters because their consistent reports against the previous boss of the Independent State Electoral Commission ( INEC ), Professor Maurice Iwu had succeeded in making the governing body to at last sack him.
The previous speaker of the Fed. House of Delegates , Mrs. Patricia Etteh was reported to have brazenly asserted that her worst enemies are hacks stressing in a less complicated way that "I won't chat to you folks ( reporters ) ; you are my worst enemies forever till I'm going to my grave." There are a large number of individuals who wouldn't come out in the open to declare their loathing for correspondents but who would brook no sympathies when referring to getting shot of them. Open attacks and molestation of hacks carrying out their legitimized commitments by even security agents attached to the latter-day massive men or girls have added heavy dimension to the total hazardous terrain in which writers have been operating. The example of this sunlight subhuman treatment against writers were the current detention, for almost 3 hours, in a disused enclosure, of a Races Daily paper journalist, Mrs. Adeola Tukuru by the safety details of Aviation Minister, Mrs. Fidelia Njeze. Not actually long after that, a female Magistrate, Mrs. Zainab Bashir ordered hacks who've gathered to cover a case in her court out of the courtroom and went so far as ordering her security details to cuff one of them, a newshound of The Guardian paper, Mr.
Lemmy Ugbegbe. Magistrate Zainab cried to her security men "Handcuff him and take him to jail. Tomorrow, I'm going to listen to disregard charge against him. I'm not a mate of journalists...let me teach them a lesson." Just on Wed. last week, unidentified folk attacked the Daily Trust paper bureau office in Jos, Plateau state capital, smashing the window-panes and destroying other property without a clue re the mission of the assailants. All of these speak powerfully about the restrained fury and fierce loathing, which have led straight to a wave of slaughtering of newshounds across the nation. Central to such slaughtering is the politics which is solidly rooted private and group fight. Before 1986, Nigerian newshounds only had the benefit of hearing the tale of culpable homicide of writers from the distance lands. That was when they used to hear about the shooting of Mr.
Charles Horman, a contract newshound in Chile on Sep seventeen, 1973 in US, having been revealed to be too tricky to live as he knew way too much of America's principal role in the over-throw of Salvador Allede. That was when they used to learn about the death squads visiting the houses or offices of hacks who wrote "bad" stories about the govt.
in Chile, Guatemala and El Salvador, shooting each moving thing to death in broad sunlight.
That was when they used to be told about how Walter Tobago of The Corriers paper was gunned down in 1980 and numerous writers working for the biggest paper in Japan, Asahi Shimbun were tied to trees and stoned to death. Even at that, correspondents in Nigeria, in concert with what late Dele Giwa declared in Daily Times of July fourth, 1979 "Every hack, be it in Akure or somewhere in USSR, should feel anxious at the wanton slaughtering of any correspondent anywhere in the world," sympathised with their comrades in those far away states.
Former EastEnders star Ross Kemp has revealed he was nearly killed while filming a Sky One documentary in Afghanistan because he and his film crew were wearing blue bulletproof jackets.
Speaking yesterday at the Sheffield Documentary Festival, Kemp said that the blue flak jackets made him and his crew a more visible target when he and troops from the Royal Anglian Regiment were ambushed by Taliban fighters. The incident occurred when he was filming Sky One documentary Ross Kemp in Afghanistan.
Kemp told MediaGuardian.co.uk that while nobody could be certain of the motives of Taliban fighters, the propaganda coup of either killing or kidnapping a journalist could have been a factor in the ambush.
"The main thing, though, is the practical aspect of what happened," he said. "The soldiers told me afterwards that we were sitting targets because we wearing the blue and came out of a corn field so we stood out in a way the troops in their sand-coloured uniform did not. Maybe it would be helpful if journalists did not wear those blue jackets in these places."
Kemp said that he, his cameraman and sound man were pinned to the ground and had to take cover as bullets whistled so closely over their heads that they could feel their backdraft.
"As soon as the time came to go I realised I had a big pool of wee in my trousers," he said. "It was the closest I have ever come to dying. I have never hugged the ground so tightly as I did when that happened."
Kemp's comments about the dangers faced by reporters in the field are supported by statistics. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 123 journalists and 42 of their support staff have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. The same body estimates that 9 journalists were killed in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2004.
Kemp also used his address to delegates at the documentary festival to criticise those who have claimed that his Bafta award-winning Sky One series Ross Kemp on Gangs glamorises its subject.
"Do you think that glamorises gang culture?" he said following the screening of a clip showing the distraught mother of two men who had been tortured and killed in El Salvador.
"There people were tortured for eight hours before they were killed and it is important to show the level of cruelty that goes on."
He also admitted that he is often distressed by the subject matter of his films: "I have had a few nights in my hotel and I have cried my eyes out, I am not ashamed to tell you."
Kemp also admitted to being surprised that his show won the Bafta for the best factual series prize, beating BBC programmes Stephen Fry's Secret Life of A Manic Depressive, Who Do You Think You Are? and Tribe.
"No one was more shocked than us - we were shocked to be nominated," he said.