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Mexico: The last moments of Bradley Roland Will

Journalism seems like a precarious profession to practise in Mexico. It's ranked by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) as one of the most dangerous places to be a journalist.

The latest tragic example of this came on Friday 27th October, in the southern state of Oaxaca, with the shooting of Brad Will. Brad was in Oaxaca as a journalist for New York City Indymedia, trying to get stories out about the protests in Oaxaca (for up-to-date accounts and context of the crisis in Oaxaca, read my GV colleague David Sasaki's latest post). While filming skirmishes between paramilitaries and protestors in Santa Lucia on Friday afternoon, Brad was shot in the abdomen and neck, and died from his injuries, prompting the CPJ to call on the government to investigate Will's death. Now Indymedia has released the tape that was in Brad's video camera when he was shot.

It's a sixteen-minute video with English subtitles, and beware, the last minute (from 15'30) is very difficult to watch. Click the picture below to launch the Quicktime video (there's a YouTube version without subtitles here).

Brad Will's Press Pass (Image from NYC Indymedia) - Link to Brad Will's last video

There's more footage at Mexican opposition blog Hoy PG, which points to a piece of unidentified news footage of Brad Will shortly after he was shot – not for the faint-hearted.

It's a moot point whether these are human rights videos per se, but Brad's tape in particular ends so shockingly, and depicts with such brutal suddenness the risks run by those determined to bring human rights stories to light, that it demands to be seen. But as one of the blogs David Sasaki quotes had it, there's a balance to be struck between outrage at the killing of Brad Will, and at the mounting number of local deaths and injuries.

Part of the reason that Brad was in Oaxaca was because there has been scant international attention paid to the growing crisis there. But while cases like Brad's – involving attacks on journalists and human rights activists from information-rich societies – gain huge amounts of traction in global media, in this case bringing Oaxaca to the top of the news agenda, the far greater number of local journalists and human rights activists affected in similar ways rarely receive the same level of coverage.

Think back to Alive In Baghdad, which brought us the Iraqi Torture story a few weeks back, and which finds that its correspondents can receive harassment and intimidation, if not worse. One correspondent, Marwan, was recently kidnapped by a militia group, possibly the Mahdi Army. Iraq is an extreme example, but it's by no means the only example.

At the end of the information chain, all over the world, there are people working to bring to light human rights abuses, oppression, torture, genocide. They are often working under difficult, extreme conditions, whether alone or in a group, undercover or in public, and often without a safety net. They might be journalists, human rights activists, lawyers, doctors, mothers. They often live in fear of repercussions, for themselves, or their families. Most of the time, it's these people – the locals – who are threatened, attacked and imprisoned, rather than foreign correspondents or international human rights workers. Brad Will was working with these people to tell their stories, and suffered a tragically similar fate.

Anyone already doing or supporting this kind of work should take note, and prepare accordingly. The WITNESS manual Video For Change has a chapter on safety and security (PDF, 1.28 MB), an essential read for anyone going into similar situations. The Rory Peck Trust, mentioned in the chapter, offers support to “the families of freelance newsgatherers killed whilst on assignment [and] to freelancers who are unable to continue their work due to severe injury, disablement or imprisonment”, and works in Mexico, as well as South Asia and the Middle East. Feel free to add other useful resources via the comments box.

As for Oaxaca, if you're interested in the background on the protests, in addition to David Sasaki's latest post, you could do worse than read previous updates:

David Sasaki on the original teachers’ protest in June 2006 | Liza Sabater shows 8 videos from the June protests | October 10th: APPO says “Stay away from Oaxaca” | October 12th: More updates from Oaxaca-based bloggers | October 19th: More death in Oaxaca | October 27th: APPO locks down the city

16 comments

  • 2006年10月第4周…

    具有完整,且能被用户所接受的“网络人格”,是Web2.0网站的精神内核。…

  • […] Global Voices Online : The last moments of Bradley Roland Will: But as one of the blogs David Sasaki quotes had it, there’s a balance to be struck between outrage at the killing of Brad Will, and at the mounting number of local deaths and injuries. […]

  • Mark in Mexico is, I suspect, a disinformation artist. I have fact-checked a number of assertions that he has made against reports by journalists covering the story, and none of them check out. I have made efforts to track down his back story and come up empty.

    As an editor in the school of the “old journalism,” I would not print a word that the guy says, or recommend him to readers as a source, because none of it checks out.

    But you give him considerable credence. Why? Is your idea of “balanced” journalism making sure that the reality-based community does not discriminate against the truth-impaired?

    That certainly IS an “innovation in journalism.”

  • 年会前夜“欧亚风情”Blogger真人互动…

    晚上8点多,我和何凌在新宇之星酒店门口遇见了毛向辉,Rebecca,文心,Keso,Zheng,张扬等等一群来参加年会的老伙计,见面打招呼,兴奋不已。晚上也没有什么大事,一群人前往西湖边的欧…

  • Blog—让思想更有力…

    第二位嘉宾主持Rebecca提到一个概念“全球信息流动”,我觉得“信息流动”是知识的信息流动,不同文化观点的沟通,是思想的数据元素来源,是创造力的来源。 Thinkpad有句广告词:“让思…

  • Rebecca—倾听全球Blogger之声…

    Rebecca本来是CNN的记者,和中国的媒体一样,传统媒体要求记者按照固定的模式写新闻稿,在一年前,她离开了CNN,加入了这个http://globalvoicesonline.org/非政府组织,这个组织在全球各地有成百…

  • […] More4 News Blog: Death In Mexico: an alternative eyewitness report from Oaxaca by a readily identifiable, accountable source named John Dickie, a Brit blogging for Channel 4 whose story jibes with other coverage from the ground there and clashes with the storyline consistently jived by Global Voices Online’s shadowy go-to guy on events in Oaxaca. What you will not be told by most media, especially in Mexico, is that the three hitmen that attacked the barricade where Brad and other journalists were, have been identified as local policemen. They wielded AR-15 rifles and various pistols and fired indiscriminately into the crowd. Brad was probably not targeted (even though state radio (Radio Ciudadania: 99.1 FM – pirate government radio broadcasting from unknown location) is saying Brad “was an armed terrorist, and there is more to this than meets the eye” and “Indymedia is a branch of the APPO”), but he was the unlucky one, hit full in the chest, right in the solar plexus, by a 9-mm wide pellet of steel travelling at around 1000 meters per second. […]

  • […] More4 News Blog: Death In Mexico: Here is an on-the-spot observer who can be contacted, vetted and held accountable for his reporting — unlike Global Voice Online’s constant go-to guy on the Oaxaca story — and whose story jibes with the bulk of the professional and amateur reporting out of the embattled southern Mexican city. What you will not be told by most media, especially in Mexico, is that the three hitmen that attacked the barricade where Brad and other journalists were, have been identified as local policemen. They wielded AR-15 rifles and various pistols and fired indiscriminately into the crowd. Brad was probably not targeted (even though state radio (Radio Ciudadania: 99.1 FM – pirate government radio broadcasting from unknown location) is saying Brad “was an armed terrorist, and there is more to this than meets the eye” and “Indymedia is a branch of the APPO”), but he was the unlucky one, hit full in the chest, right in the solar plexus, by a 9-mm wide pellet of steel travelling at around 1000 meters per second. […]

  • […] Oaxaca: The last moments of Bradley Roland Will […]

  • Well I think right now it is very difficult situation for Oaxaca , one of the most beautiful city’s in the world, there the people are pacifist but the system are repressive and inhuman, so this journalist was in a dangerous ground and maybe the mercenary payed for the establishment shoot this guy, in my opinion, the people want to the world know about the real situation and believe me the former press is more help for the Oaxaca people than the local press, so I don think that was shoot for Oaxaca people, maybe was an accident, maybe the ultra right did it. Regards for all.

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