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French ceremony honours slain war correspondents France

10 october 2014, 10:39
0

 Hundreds of colleagues, friends and family paid tribute Thursday to the numerous journalists killed over the past year, including US reporter James Foley, whose "vile" beheading at the hands of Islamic State militants sparked global outrage, AFP reports.

Foley's parents were present as a memorial was unveiled to 113 journalists killed between April 2013 and August 2014 on the sidelines of the Bayeux prize for war correspondents.

Christophe Deloire, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders said that "2014 will remain marked by the vile decapitation of journalists... with threats to the next hostage. It's the height of ignominy."

Already this year, 51 journalists have been killed, an "extremely high" number, Deloire said.

Foley's mother Diane said the family was "so honoured that you understand this sacrifice."

"We tried to dissuade him but he told us 'Mum I have found my passion. Somebody must give voice to the families, children and people suffering," said Diane Foley, adding that a foundation would be set up in honour of her son.

Foley was kidnapped in November 2012 in northern Syria where he was covering the uprising against Bashar al-Assad for GlobalPost, AFP and other media.

He was murdered by Islamic State extremists in August.

Particular tribute was also paid to 26-year-old French photographer Camille Lepage, killed in Central African Republic in May and Sardar Ahmad, 40, an AFP reporter killed with his wife and two of his children in a Taliban attack.

His third child, only two years old, at the time of the attack, survived and now lives in Canada with guardians.

Also honoured were German photographer for Associated Press Anja Niedringhaus, killed too in Afghanistan and Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, two journalists for France's RFI who died in Mali in November.

Lepage's mother Maryvonne said her daughter had died because she was "doing her job" and urged young journalists to "continue their commitment" despite her loss.

Phil Chetwynd, editor-in-chief of Agence France-Presse (AFP), hailed the "astonishing bravery" of Foley and said the "dignity of his family has been an inspiration."

Chetwynd also paid tribute to "dear colleague" Sardar Ahmad, saying there was "no finer journalist in Afghanistan."

"It has been a traumatic and painful year for all of us who are committed to the practice of journalism and seeking the truth in the most difficult parts of the world," added Chetwynd.

He pledged to "honour the memory" of those lost "by refusing to be intimidated and continuing to do our job without compromise, as safely as we possibly can."


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