Serena Shim and Michael Hastings are two examples, among numerous others, of journalists being harshly silenced for getting too close to exposing highly inconvenient truths.
Serena Shim (October 10th 1985 – October 19th 2014) was an American-Lebanese journalist.
Her tragic death came just two days after a video interview in which she claimed Turkish intelligence agents had threatened her after her report on the ISIL extremist jihadists being smuggled into Syria from Turkey. For more on the murder of Serena Shim, see here.
The 33-year-old author, reporter and Buzzfeed contributor Michael Hastings died in a car accident in Los Angeles in 2013. Hastings was researching extensively about the CIA and about NSA mass surveillence at the time of his fatal accident. Conspiracy speculation concerning his death has been further fuelled by a WikiLeaks tweet claiming that, merely hours before his fatal accident, Hastings told a WikiLeaks lawyer that the FBI had been investigating him. In his 2012 book, The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan, Hastings wrote of having been seriously threatened by figures involved in the military and intelligence; “We’ll hunt you down and kill you if we don’t like what you write,” he was allegedly told.
Those sceptical about the official narrative of Hastings’ death point to, among other things, eye-witness accounts stating that Hastings’ Mercedes didn’t merely crash but “exploded” (indicating a planted explosive). Images of the wrecked vehicle appear to show more damage to the rear, around the area of the fuel tank, than to the front, inviting speculation that a bomb igniting the fuel could have been responsible for the incident.
Like, among numerous others, the highly suspicious deaths of 9/11 conspiracy author Philip Marshall and the Pullitzer prize-winning author Gary Webb, who exposed the CIA’s involvement in the drug trade, the deaths of Shim and Hastings both reek of assassination.
Artist Justin Lee Stansfield has paid his own personal tribute to both journalists: his tribute to Serena Shim is pictured at the top of this page. I asked him why he was inspired by Serena Shim and Michael Hastings. ‘With Michael Hastings I wanted to make a painting which would be a kind of tribute but I also wanted to show or include the violence that was done to him’, he explains. ‘His writing is both powerful and political, and he understood the situation and stood out as a ‘real’ journalist in a sea of stenographers, as he once called them. I saw his death as a political assassination, it was like he was fighting on the side of the people but they didn’t know it’.
See Justin’s Michael Hastings tribute here.
‘With Serena Shim, I saw the same thing again happening; true and real journalists who were trying to say what was really going on, being silenced and murdered,’ he continues. ‘We live in a sort of false present and journalists like Shim and Hastings were trying to change that, hopefully their work will be an inspiration to new generations of journalists and writers, that their spirit will go on in others. What they were doing, in the face of total adversity, was heroic’.
‘The artwork I made of Shim (top of page) is a simple pencil drawing of her which I drew from a video still I had seen online, I wanted the drawing to look as though she might be sleeping, and then I found the cardboard box lid and simply placed the drawing inside, which I thought made the whole thing more intimate and respectful in some way. By making artwork about Shim and Hastings they have been brought into the fold of art’.
Justin’s other work can be seen here.
In October 2014 Serena Shim herself joined the roll-call of brave journalists over the years who’ve risked – and ultimately sacrificed – their lives for the sake of uncovering the truth. Her bravery is all the more meaningful in the context of how most mainstream, corporate-owned journalism has been either reluctant or unwilling to dig deeper beyond the superficial surface of the ‘ISIS’ story and report more honestly about the origins of the crisis. Certainly at the time of her death, mainstream journalists were almost entirely conforming to the approved corporate/political script, even if more meaningful journalism has started to gradually emerge in isolated spurts between then and now. But Shim was one of the few who was risking life and limb in dangerous territory to report on what was really going on. And she paid with her life.
Change.org is petitioning the United States Department of Justice to investigate Shim’s death; you can add your signature to the petition here.
According to the International Press Institute, at least 64 journalists were known to have been killed in 2015.