Marie Colvin Dead: Syrian Activists Post Video 'Showing Burial Of Slain Journalist'

Marie Colvin

Huffington Post UK / PA   First Posted: 1/03/2012 20:48 Updated: 1/03/2012 21:12

A video claiming to show the burial of slain journalist Marie Colvin has been posted online.

The clip, posted on YouTube by Syrian activists, was apparently filmed in a cemetery in the neighbourhood of Baba Amr, where Colvin was killed last week.

A man who frequently appears in activist videos says the journalist, clad in a white shroud, is being buried because there is no electricity to keep her body refrigerated.

He tearfully says: "Marie Colvin was martyred in Baba Amr because she was sending a heavenly message, a humanitarian message."

According to the Washington Post, he adds: "She was telling the truth about what is happening in Baba Amr. May god be merciful to you, Marie, as we bury you in this garden.

The clip, which has not been independently verified, does not make mention of the body of Remi Ochlik, a French photographer killed in the same attack.

The man opens the white fabric wrapped around the body to reveal the badly burned face of a white person. It cannot be recognised as Colvin, AP reported.

Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy and French reporter Edith Bouvier, of Le Figaro newspaper, were also injured in the strike.

Ms Colvin was the only British newspaper reporter in the opposition stronghold of Homs, which has become a symbol of the 11-month uprising against Syrian president Bashar Assad.

Syrian activists accused Assad's forces of deliberately targeting the journalists in a series of rocket and shell attacks on the city, which they said killed at least 13 people.

The United Nations estimated last month that at least 5,400 people, mostly civilians, had been killed in the Syrian government's crackdown on the rebels.

David Cameron has spoken of his frustration at Britain's inability to do more to to prevent the slaughter.

The Prime Minister said work was under way to ensure president Assad and his regime could be held legally responsible for the brutal repression.

But Britain had to be realistic about its capacity to intervene directly, he cautioned - insisting the situation was different from Libya.

Syria was sliding closer to all-out civil war tonight as rebels sought to more formally organise their resistance in the face of an intensified bombardment by government forces on the city of Homs.

The rapidly deteriorating security and humanitarian situation led the UK to announce that it had withdrawn its diplomatic staff from Syria and closed the Damascus embassy.


With the Duchess of Cornwall at a service to commemorate journalists, cameramen and support staff who have fallen in the war zones at St. Bride’s Church in Fleet Street, 2010

Foreign Secretary William Hague, announcing the decision to MPs, urged those fighting for the Assad regime to lay down their arms.

Mr Cameron, who Downing Street said would raise the issue at the European Council summit in Brussels, said the international community was trying to exert "maximum pressure on Assad and his dreadful regime".

"We've been pushing for resolutions at the United Nations we've been working with the Syrian opposition to try and encourage them be more inclusive," he told Channel 5 News.

"I think we have to keep up that pressure. But we do have to recognise ... there are big differences between the situation in Libya and the situation as Syria.

"The biggest difference, of course, being we had the express permission of the Arab League and the United Nations to take all possible measures, to take the military action that we took."

He hit out at Russia and China for blocking a United Nations Security Council resolution backing an Arab League peace plan as the pair also voted against a UN condemnation of human rights abuses.

"But above all we have got to hold Assad responsible," he said.

"There is a role for Britain and for others right now to start collecting the evidence to make sure we hold this man to account for what he does no matter how long it takes.

"Britain is doing this now, building a picture to show these are crimes against humanity and this man may need to be held to account for that.

"That is very important. It is extremely frustrating that we cannot do more. The scenes that we have seen on our televisions are appalling.

"I wish we could do more but we have to be realistic about what we can achieve about holding them to account. Gathering the evidence, using that evidence to build a case in international law that he can never hide from - that we can do."

Announcing the closure of the embassy, Mr Hague said staff and premises were judged at risk but that it "in no way reduces the UK's commitment to active diplomacy to maintain pressure on the Assad regime to end the violence".

The UK would continue to work with the opposition Syrian National Council and support UN and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan's work, he said.

Remaining British nationals, who the Foreign Office has urged to leave, should contact the embassy of any remaining EU member state if they needed assistance, he said.

Britain also condemned the refusal by Damascus to allow the United Nations humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator Baroness Valerie Amos into the country to assess the scale of suffering caused by the violence.

But Syrian authorities today did grant the International Committee of the Red Cross permission to enter the besieged Homs neighbourhood of Baba Amr.

Downing Street called on Syrian troops not to turn their weapons on civilians.

"There is a choice for those who have taken up arms against innocent civilians," said a Downing Street spokeswoman. "Give up your weapons and we will support you in building a freer Syria, or face the pressure of international opinion."

The British Red Cross has launched a Syria Crisis Appeal to help provide food, medical supplies and transport for the wounded.
The charity said it had provided more than £500,000 to support humanitarian work in Syria since May last year.

Russia and China later signed up to a Security Council press statement critical of the regime and calling for Baroness Amos and humanitarian bodies to be allowed access.

While it does not have the binding nature of a resolution, such a statement can only be issued with the approval of all 15 Council members.

Focused exclusively on the humanitarian situation, it expressed "deep disappointment" over the regime's decision and called for her to be granted "immediate and unhindered access".

There should also be "full and unimpeded access of humanitarian personnel to all populations in need of assistance" to help evacuate the wounded, it said.

The members of the Security Council "deplore the rapidly-deteriorating humanitarian situation", the statement went on, especially the growing number of affected civilians.

More than 7,500 have been killed so far in the 11-month crackdown, the UN estimates.

The statement was read out by UK ambassador to the UN Sir Mark Lyall Grant as Britain holds the rotating Security Council presidency this month.

Speaking to reporters, he said: "The power of the statement is that it has all 15 members supporting it."

He dismissed suggestions the international community bore any blame for the deaths.

"We completely reject any responsibility of the international community for what is happening in Syria," he told reporters.

"The brutalisation by the Syrian regime of its citizens is horrendous, it is abhorrent. The full-frontal assault that is now happening in Homs we condemn utterly.

"The violence must stop and it must stop immediately. There can be no excuses."


Twitter reaction to Colvin's death.

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