The murder of Kenji Goto highlights the dangers facing freelance journalists around the globe who bravely report from the world’s most dangerous conflict zones — but without the institutional backup enjoyed by full-time reporters at mainstream media organizations.
Goto was a part of this loose, worldwide fraternity, and the Rory Peck Trust, a London-based group that provides support to freelance journalists and their families, had called for his release. The trust was set up in 1995 in memory of freelance cameraman Rory Peck, who was killed in Moscow in 1993.
Early Sunday the organization said on its website that it was “deeply saddened and shocked by the killing” at the hands of the extremist Islamic State group.
“I’m devastated. There was always some hope,” trust director Tina Carr tweeted shortly after the video was released. What Goto’s family went through was “beyond imagination,” she told Kyodo News, calling for their privacy to be respected.
“Goto was a hugely respected journalist for his extensive experience, a man who covered children caught up in conflict, and told the stories of ordinary people and human rights problems. For all who knew him, it’s a huge loss,” Carr was quoted as saying.
Last week, the trust posted a message, both in text and voice, from Goto’s wife, Rinko. The statement was her first public comments since it was learned Jan. 20 that Goto, 47, had been taken hostage along with Haruna Yukawa, 42.
Yukawa, a self-styled security contractor, was executed shortly afterward.
“My husband is a good and honest man who went to Syria to show the plight of those who suffer. I believe that Kenji may have also been trying to find out about Haruna Yukawa’s situation,” her statement said.
In her statement, she also revealed that she had lived in Amman, the Jordanian capital, until she was 12, and that she and her husband had two young daughters.
“I fear that this is the last chance for my husband and we now have only a few hours left to secure his release and the life of Lt. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh. I beg the Jordanian and Japanese Government to understand that the fates of both men are in their hands,” she said in the statement, referring to the Jordanian air force pilot who was captured by the militants and became a key part of the negotiations.
Meanwhile on Sunday, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan released a statement strongly condemning the murder of Goto. “There was no justification whatsoever to punish Kenji Goto for grievances that may be felt against the Japanese government,” the statement released by the FCCJ board of directors said.
“The task of a journalist is to report the facts and truth of affairs, even in dangerous zones of military conflict. Kenji Goto was an exceptionally brave and important journalist whom we greatly respect and will honor.”
The FCCJ, founded in 1945, has long supported freedom of press issues. In a Jan. 22 statement, it stressed that Goto’s career had been dedicated to highlighting humanitarian themes, peace promotion, refugee aid and an end to poverty.
“His very presence in that region is testament to the fact that he is a special kind of Japanese whose sincerity and bravery must be respected,” the FCCJ said.
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