Nikesh Mehta

Counsellor for Foreign Policy and Security

Part of UK in Malaysia

23rd February 2012 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Ultimate Sacrifice…

Like everyone around the world, I was extremely saddened to hear about the tragic deaths of Marie Colvin, an American journalist for the Sunday Times, and French photographer Remi Ochlik, in shelling by the Syrian government’s force in the city of Homs. As the Foreign Secretary said in his statement, they died bringing us the truth about the horrific events taking place there.

The situation in Syria is clearly going from bad to worse and shows no signs of abating. In the last day alone, more than 60 civilians, including children, were killed on the single street of al-Hakoura in the Baba Amr neighbourhood. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said that the horrific violence in Syria may amount to crimes against humanity.

With this happening, the world cannot afford to stand and watch from the sidelines. Last week’s successful UN General Assembly resolution, which Malaysia supported, was a step in the right direction. The resolution strongly condemned the violence and backed the November 2011 Arab League plan, which called on the Syrian government to stop all violence; release all those detained during the unrest; withdraw all armed forces from cities and towns, guarantee peaceful demonstrations; and allow unhindered access for Arab League monitors and international media.

Let us now hope that the Syrian government will allow the UN and other humanitarian agencies immediate access to the areas affected so that they can provide the emergency assistance so badly needed.

To me, Marie and Remi are genuine heroes. They are the ones that go into the most dangerous situations to ensure that the world gets to hear about what is happening but unfortunately, they are also at the greatest risk. I know from my own experiences in Iraq and Uganda, the incredible lengths that journalists go to in order to bring us the truth. The Committee to Protect Journalists estimates that over 900 journalists have been killed since 1992, and at least seven have been killed in the Syrian conflict.

I believe we owe it to Marie and Remi, and countless others, to ensure that their efforts are not in vain. That is why I was surprised to see how little coverage there has been about Syria in the Malaysian press. The story of Marie’s and Remi’s death, appeared on page 37 and page 30  of today’s Star and New Straits Times, after the classifieds, lifestyle and showbiz sections. Doesn’t the massacre of over 6,000 people deserve more than this?

2 comments on “The Ultimate Sacrifice…

  1. My heart goes out to Marie and Remi, they sacrificed so much to highlight the plight of the Syrian people and yet still it seems that their message has fallen on deaf ears. This weekend’s lottery results got far more attention than the terrible situation in Syria and that really can’t be right wihen we all live in a so called Global economy.

    1. Michael, I couldn’t agree more. Let’s hope the pressure on the Syrian regime from the Friends of Syria meeting in Tunis bears fruit in the coming days and weeks.

Comments are closed.

About Nikesh Mehta

Nikesh (Nik) Mehta commenced his posting as Counsellor (Foreign Policy and Security) at the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur in January 2012. This new role was created to strengthen…

Nikesh (Nik) Mehta commenced his posting as Counsellor (Foreign
Policy and Security) at the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur in
January 2012. This new role was created to strengthen the British
Government’s relationship with Malaysia on issues such as Counter
Terrorism, Counter Proliferation and Transnational Crime.
Nik joined the Foreign Office in 2002 after nearly three years
working as a teacher in rural Japan. His first experience of culture
shock was trying to explain why he was vegetarian to a group of
sceptical Japanese students. Nik spent a year on the NATO desk in London
before serving in the Coalition Provisional Authority as the Political
Officer for southern Iraq based in Basrah.
In 2004, Nik was appointed as Second Secretary (Political) in Kampala
primarily responsible for reporting on conflict with the Lord’s
Resistance Army, the ensuing humanitarian crisis and the subsequent
peace talks in Juba. The posting was particularly poignant for Nik’s
family as his mother, a Ugandan-Asian, was expelled from the country by
Idi Amin’s forces in 1972.
For the last four years, Nik has served in the Foreign Office’s
Counter Terrorism Department, most recently as Head of the Guantanamo
and Rendition Issues Team.
Nik is in Kuala Lumpur with his Australian wife, Anna, and their
three year old son, Arran. You can follow him on Twitter @nikmehta33.

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