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Remembering Marie Colvin.

March 1, 2012

I’m late writing about this, because I was trying to find the right words.

When I heard about Marie Colvin’s death I was in the British library’s Asia and Africa studies room, reading Mark Whitaker’s biography of Sivaram Dharmaratnam, a Tamil journalist and one time rebel fighter who was murdered in 2005, when he was 44.

His body was found with severe head injuries somewhere between a hospital and the parliament buildings in Colombo. Tamils grieved intensely over his death but they were not surprised by it. He was political, literate, involved and outspoken. The wonder was that he survived so long in SriLanka’s lethal civic life.

Marie Colvin lost her eye in SriLanka. She had used her profile and her experience to investigate an unfashionable war and continued to write about  it after a military shell took out her eye as she reported from Tiger held territory in 2001.

Sivaram died telling his own country’s story. Marie Colvin died telling the story of other people.

For Tamils, who are used to being ignored, accused or told to shut up, the fact that she came under fire, survived, and continued to bear witness is a source of endless amazement, and hope.


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