Christopher Allen, KIA: A Journalist is a Journalist

I’ve written about the American journalist Christopher Allen, recently killed covering conflict in the South of Sudan, here, on the Truth Speaker:

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/08/29/christopher-allen-remembering-a-fallen-journalist/

The South Sudan government has recently changed its story and now says it “regrets” the killing of an American freelance journalist, on Saturday, August 26th, sending its condolences to his family. Chris was killed by South Sudanese government forces while embedded with rebel forces loyal to Riek Machar in the South Sudan-Uganda border area of Kaya.

But initially, Information Minister and government spokesman Michael Makuei had said:

“Sixteen rebels, including a white rebel, were killed. The identity of that man is not known, but he was among the rebels who attacked the garrison.” Then, Makuei changed the narrative, saying Allen was killed in the cross-fire as government troops fought to repulse the rebels.

Yet, Chris was shot in the head, and at pretty close range, by Sudan government forces. This wasn’t ‘caught in the crossfire’, etc, someone saw Chris, and shot him in the head…

A rebel spokesman said that Chris (a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, who began his journalistic career in Ukraine, 2014) was wearing a clearly marked press vest, and had been shot at after he began to take pictures.  “Allen was targeted. The person who shot saw him very clearly,” Colonel Paul Lam Gabriel told the AFP.

Sudan’s government have said Allen was “not targeted” and that the government regretted it, but added that “anybody on that side is usually a target. Mr Makuei claimed Allen had entered South Sudan illegally after being denied a visa “because of his hostile reports.” I could find no evidence of his ‘hostile reports’.

They further added  “If Allen entered South Sudan illegally then he is a criminal,” said Mr Makuei. “Had he not died we would have apprehended him and taken him to the court.” (Note: Chris apparently entered South Sudan through Kampala. About 20 other journalists also were denied entry into the country by South Sudan’s Media Authority in May and June.) And that “that if Allen was reporting “on the activities of the rebels then definitely he was a rebel.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists has said in a statement it was “deeply troubled” by the suggestion Allen was not deserving of civilian status and called for an independent investigation into the circumstances of his death. His parents support this investigation, adding: 

“We respect and admire our son, whose unyielding passion for journalism was driven by his desire to tell some of the world’s most critical stories. As loving parents, we were fearful whenever he entered a war zone and our hearts sank when we learned he was going to South Sudan. Yet Christopher was a truth seeker, committed to uncovering the full context of the stories he reported even when this required personal risk. His research was firsthand and thorough, and he cared deeply about the real people involved in and affected by conflict.

We are devastated by the loss of our beloved son and cannot begin to imagine our lives without him. Like Christopher, we believe access to information is fundamental to a free and thriving society and we must continue to protect journalists in order to maintain press freedom in the United States and across the globe. Just as Christopher sought the truth of the tragedies and difficulties of others, we will now work to establish the truth of the circumstances of his killing.”

More than one million people have fled into neighbouring Uganda since civil war broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, creating one of the world’s biggest refugee crises.

Ten journalists have been killed in South Sudan since 2012. My own view is that whether or not Chris was wearing a ‘press’ vest is unimportant. He was clearly not a combatant. He was clearly a journalist, doing the job of a journalist, reporting from the scene. South Sudan have ruled out a probe into Chris’ death. 

I remember this tweet Chris sent me, when I was in the Lugansk blockade of 2014, Donbass.

And I’ll remember Chris Allen as a brave man, a journalist, unjustly killed, trying to bring us the truth. Respect, and RIP Chris.

Christopher Allen – Remembering a Fallen Journalist

The other day I was saddened to read of the death of Christopher Allen, a US journalist, killed in conflict in Sudan. And I must admit, it’s a conflict I had no idea of, until reading of Christopher’s death, as he was caught up covering battle there.

In the context of Christopher’s sad death, I’ve read up on that situation –

South Sudan’s civil war erupted in December 2013 just two years after it obtained independence from Sudan, when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup.

Thousands of people have been killed by the violence, which plunged part of the country into famine earlier this year. Some four million have been displaced, according to UN figures.

I never met Chris in person, but he did contact me back in 2014 –

I sometimes saw Chris’ work on the Ukraine war in the time after that. I do have generally mixed views on his work, given that it was almost entirely for the western media, pro-Ukraine, anti-Russian media. Here, Vice, for example.  His work did follow the pattern of ‘Russia-backed separatists’, etc. However, being in western media, it couldn’t be any other way – editors wouldn’t let it be any other way, and there were signs that Chris was trying to go against the grain.

In his article this year from the Toronto Star, some signs of a journalist trying to, within the confines of the anti-Russia, anti-Donbass republics remit, some signs of a journalist trying to break some truth through, about the problems in Ukraine.

Chris’ sad death, at only 25, puts his work, and life, into a new focus. He literally went to one of the most dangerous place in the world for a journalist. And he would have known that. His death shows just how fierce the fighting is there, and sheds light on a situation which has seen over a million flee their homes, mass death, and the threat of humanitarian crisis for civilians.

His death has further seen calls and pressure for peace in the area.

Chris gave his life for his work, reportedly killed for photographing the battle. In his death, he shows us the true purpose of a journalist – to cover untold stories.

Chris, we never met in life, but in death, you have my full respect. RIP.

Pro-Ukrainian Attitudes Towards Independent, non pro-Ukraine Journalism (aka Death Wishes / Threats)

Last week, we marked the second anniversary of the murder of journalist Oles Buzina, in Kiev.  Although the culprits are widely known, and known as Ukrainian nationalists, because this is Ukraine, there’s been no attempt to bring them to justice.

Moreover, because of the west’s desire to cover up that which happens in Ukraine and doesn’t suit the ‘Ukraine is good, Russia is bad‘ narrative, there’s been little coverage of the Buzina case in western media.

Ukrainians, pro-Ukrainian can usually be found occupying the moral highground, happy to bask in a world much believing all the above rhetoric about Russia, and Ukraine’s poor, put-upon people, only wanting their own land etc etc (the line endlessly pumped out by their government, and oft-repeated in the media).

But what if it’s really not like that at all? I’m an independent journalist, covering the Ukraine situation for over 3 years. And because I haven’t taken the ‘pro-Ukrainian’ side (I’ve reported facts), I’ve become a ‘hate figure’ for many in Ukraine (and I’m officially banned from there, for life, as I understand.)

I accept that sometimes my work can push some boundaries, but, I never go through them, in general always try to be a decent person. And, yet, it took me just a few minutes to assemble these tweets, and comments, sent to me, in English, by ‘pro-Ukrainians’, as they’d call themselves, thousands even (no exaggeration) more in Russian, Ukrainian, of course. Just 10 here, to get started!

So, let’s have a look and see how pro-Ukrainians respond to a journalist whose work they don’t like: 

           

After anyone is killed, or dies, I will get a swathe of messages from pro-Ukrainians wishing me the same.

So there we have it, pro-Ukrainian attitudes to a journalist they don’t like.

Ukraine targets Journalists (again), as the west just looks on (again)

Graham Phillips

In Ukraine, ‘radicals’ have published the latest issue of playing cards issued to Ukrainian soldiers with ‘kill targets’ on them. But don’t be fooled by ‘radicals’, be sure the Ukrainian government have given their full support to this, and the cards will be issued to Ukrainian soldiers, as previously (see my photos here of cards, after Ukrainian forces retreated from Lugansk airport, September 2014) –

ukraine-cards ukraine-cards1
Here they are: 
ukraine-death-cards

As well as myself, a UK freelance journalist, being on there, there are several other journalists, including prominent Russian journalist Dmitry Steshin.

So, where’s the outrage over this from the west? The headlines blasting Ukraine Targets Journalists…. where’s the outrage from western governments??

Nowhere at all. Remember, this is Ukraine and the west will blindly support Ukraine, because it’s a really convenient country to use to have a go at Russia.

screenshot-1209 screenshot-1215

Request for Assistance: Translate new Video Reportage about Journalism in Ukraine

I’d love to have this new reportage, about journalism in Ukraine pre and post Euromaidan, in as many languages as possible!

Can you help? Write in the subtitles, add in the comments section here.

Thanks again! Graham