It goes without saying that the death of veteran Sunday Times war correspondent Marie Colvin and the French photographer Remi Ochlik – after an artillery shell hit their makeshift press centre in the Syrian city of Homs – is tragic. It’s also testament to the lengths to which journalists often go to get the story. But equally, the use of new technology by ‘citizen journalists’ has been equally significant in documenting the deadly acts of the Syrian government against its own people.
Among those killed in yesterday’s attack on the journalists’ position were three activists. One of those was video blogger Rami Ahmad al-Sayed, who was also known as “Syria Pioneer“. Ahmad al-Sayed had uploaded over 200 videos to various platforms of the killing and destruction in his area. We wrote about him and his video only this week when the Syrian government blocked Bambuser, the live video platform he was using.
Colvin was a decorated foreign correspondent. Ochlik had won a World Press Photo award. Obviously al-Sayed / Syria Pioneer had not had the chance to win such accolades. But his live broadcasts, using the startup video platform Bambuser did their part in showing the world what was going on in Syria.
His footage of the bombing of Homs was aired all over the world by BBC World, SkyNews, Al Jazeera and many more. Live video from the roof where Rami and his friends positioned their camera was broadcast all over the world. A collection of some of that output is contained in a tribute at Storyful. Be warned, much of it is harrowing to watch.
We know from Bambuser that Rami was accompanying three people to a civil hospital when he died. The car was believed to have been the target of mortar fire. While the others died instantaneously, Rami was badly injured but died from his wounds later in the hospital.
Born in 1985, father of a little girl aged a year and a half called Marym (pictured), his last message for his friends was sent to Bambuser:
“Babaamr is facing a genocide right now. I will never forgive you for your silence. You have all just given us your words but we need actions. However, our hearts will always be with those who risk their life for our freedom. I know what we need! We need campaigns everywhere inside Syria and outside Syria, and now we need all people in front of all embassies all over the world. In a few hours there will be NO place called BabaAmr and I expect this will be my last message and no one will forgive you who talked but didn’t act.”
But although a family has lost a husband and father, Syria Pioneer lives on, bringing live footage from inside Homs: because Rami’s friends and colleagues have resumed using the account.
Rami’s pioneering work, using the platforms of the new technology world, will not have been in vain.