Mémorial des reporters de Bayeux © Geneviève Delalot
Every year in the small French city of Bayeux, on the northern Normandy coastline, a few miles from the beaches where so many men perished in an effort to save Europe and the world from Nazi barbarism, the City of Bayeux and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) came together to honor the memory of journalists killed in the line of duty.
It was a cold Thursday afternoon when on October 6 at 5 p.m. just over one hundred journalists, journalism students and representatives of local authorities gathered around the 2010/2011 memorial.
This emotionally stirring memory garden opens with a quotation from Simone de Beauvoir: "Wanting freedom for oneself means wanting freedom others." Dozens of memorials dating from 1944 to 2011 remind visitors of the illustrious and anonymous war correspondents killed on duty.
This year, alongside far too many Arabic journalists, photographers Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington perished in Misrata (Libya), and there was the death of South African journalist Anton Hammerl and Lucas Dolega, the first photographer killed at the awakening of the "Arab Spring" in Tunis. In addition to these photographers, this year’s solemn Reporters Without Borders death count shows fifty-two journalists killed on duty.
Without forgetting Fabio Polenghi, a freelance photographer killed during the 2010 “red shirt” revolution in Bangkok . The presence of his sister Elisabetta was a reminder that the circumstances of his death have still not been clarified.
Also present at the ceremony was Dr. Shtouky Mebrouk, the father of Lucas Dolega, the young photographer killed in January in Tunis after succumbing to injuries from a “French made” tear-gas grenade. He was accompanied by his journalist wife Karine Von Zabiensky-Mebrouk, a former German correspondant. In a very moving elocution, Dr. Mebrouk said he discovered photojournalism in Tunis and warmly thanked Patrick Gomont, Mayor of Bayeux, and Jean-François Julliard for keeping the memory of his son and fellow war casualties, alive.