Being detained in a war zone… what do you do?


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As a journalist, one of the things that I do worry about is being detained or kidnapped while in a conflict zone. With all the beheadings that have been happening online… all the courage in the world woudn’t make me feel courageous! I have actually been detained and interrogated once. It was by the military in Lebanon right when I was about to cross the border out of the country. It was 2007 and at that time, they were going through the Nahr Al-Bared conflict. But it was only for a few hour and they let me go after they deleted some photos I had taken of their checkpoint. Even then, I almost peed my pants!

So I can’t imagine how more macho journalists like Sean Langan and Sean McAllister can stay strong when they get held for months. Sean Langan was kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan and held for three months. BBC made a re-enacted film out of his ordeal:

Sean McAllister (who I am now friends with after having the opportunity to hang out with him at the Sheffield Documentary Film Festival in 2011) was detained in Syria and accused of being a spy. CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed him:

And the latest that has caught my attention has to be the detention of Vice News journalist Simon Ostrovsky in Ukraine by pro-Russian forces. It’s just that I’m a loyal viewer/reader of Vice and I’ve actually been following Ostrovsky’s daily video dispatches from there on a regular basis. Suddenly, the guy just disappears for four days and then they let him go. Not before beating and torturing him, of course. He was released last Thursday (24 April 2014). Here’s he’s account of what happened:

I guess I’ve been taking it easy seeing that the last international assignments I’ve been on in the past six  months have been in London, Stockholm and Perth.

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