One month after Shireen Abu Akleh’s death, Douna Haj Ahmed reflects on this huge loss to journalism, Palestine, and the truth.
Such a sad morning, the day that news broke of the martyrdom of the reporter Shireen Abu Akleh while covering the events in Jenin. Shireen was shot and killed by Israeli forces with live bullets. She was shot Shireen in cold blood to prevent her from carrying out her mission. It is a heinous crime that violates International Laws and norms explicitly.
Palestine lost a free voice, and we lost a brave woman who was not afraid to die for the truth. This was not the first time, and unfortunately, it does not look like it will be the last that a bloodthirsty idiot aims their gun at a prophet of the truth.
Journalists worldwide strive to act for the voices of the oppressed everywhere. Imagine the world today without journalists, it would be terrifying, and freedom and justice would disappear. In this turbulent world of injustice and oppression, only journalists can fill the void left by the absence of accountability and justice.
Today, the press is a living court for the perpetrators, as by shedding light on people’s issues, it seeks to keep dictatorial regimes, authoritarianism, and racism under the microscope. Moreover, journalists send a clear message to all perpetrators that their crimes are watched and documented. They will not be able to escape with impunity.
Palestine lost a free voice, and we lost a brave woman who was not afraid to die for the truth
Shireen Abu Akleh was originally from Bethlehem. She initially studied Architecture at the University of Science and Technology in Jordan, then moved to Journalism and obtained a bachelor’s degree from Yarmouk University in Jordan.
After graduating, she returned to Palestine and worked for different outlets before joining Al Jazeera in 1997. Over the past two decades, she covered the events in the Palestinian territories during all the difficult times.
Shireen had the opportunity to travel and work in any media office for Al-Jazeera, quietly and away from the noise of bullets and war. However, twenty years of risky journalistic fieldwork was not enough for her, she remained insistent on conveying the cause of her people to the whole world.
Shireen has a special place in the memory of Arabs. Her words still resonate while covering the news, “Shireen Abu Akleh, from the occupied territories”.
Shireen’s voice is part of my memory and the memory of many of my generation. Losing her is very painful. She was martyred while performing her journalistic work, the noblest work and profession.
She is not the first journalist, and she will not be the last who sacrifices herself to deliver the image and news to viewers worldwide.
But, on the day of your killing, the truth triumphed, Shireen. Although the news of your death is the only news you have not been able to convey, the whole world has heard of it. You have become part of the news that you have always sought to convey.
Shireen was not shot due to her being in the wrong place at the wrong time; she was murdered because she always wanted to be on the right side of history.
No one in this world will imagine the extent of my sorrow as I write these words, but the feeling that the whole world should hear what I have to say, makes me overcome my sadness.
Farewell, Shireen. You have done your duty perfectly, and you will remain for us and all free journalists around the world a role model and a torch that will illuminate our dark path.
Douna Haj Ahmed is a Syrian Human Rights and Women’s Rights activist, and part of The Refugee Journalism Project.