Austin Tice, UH alumnus and former Daily Cougar staffer, hadn’t been heard from in weeks since he left as a freelance journalist to report on the conflict in Syria. But on Oct. 2, a frightening video surfaced of what is believed to be a group of pro-Assad militants, escorting Tice through the mountains.
Tice had described Syria as a place where “every single day people here lay down their own (lives) for the sake of others.” Tice wanted to be around these rebel fighters because he felt he was performing a service for the sake of others, not just as a journalist.
As we honor military personnel protecting us from aggression in foreign regions, we must not forget that those who collected the information have been protecting us from our own lack of knowledge. Without journalists like Tice, Bashar al-Assad’s press releases would be the only news we’d receive.
Syria rarely lets any reporters past its borders, therefore Tice should have known the risks before entering the country. However, reviewing his interviews and writings doesn’t suggest that the Free Syrian Army is the cause of his disappearance.
The prevailing idea that the Syrian government is holding Tice captive under the circumstances shown in the video paints a picture of Syria as a country riddled with inhumanity. If that’s how the Syrian government treats an American reporter, what goes unreported inside Syria’s border can only be imagined.
On both sides of the conflict, it is disgusting to see the number of journalists reported kidnapped, tortured or murdered. When you kill or kidnap someone armed with only a means of communicating information for the people at large, the ones who you claim to be fighting for the protection of, it is the most baneful kind of hypocrisy.
Whoever the perpetrators, they should know the flow of information can only help their people. Organizations can benefit from hiding certain information, but their militaristic motivations are no more than empty words. This will be exposed when you harm journalists and reporters who seek to cover those conditions in the first place. We all want Tice home safe.
Nick Bell is a media production senior and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.