Saturday, September 19, 2009

RIP Sultan Munadi

In the past few months of my Twitter life, I’ve seen top trending topics like RIP Michael Jackson, RIP Patrick Swayze and RIP Farah Fawcett spread like wild fires.

Without taking anything away from these deaths, I am waiting for topics such as RIP Sultan Munadi or RIP-all-the-civilians-dying-in-war-zones to be subjects of interest to the general public….

Who was Sultan Munadi? A fixer.

What’s a fixer? A local journalist that fixes everything for western reporters working in war zones. When war reporters work in zones of conflict, they are never alone. Walking in their shadow, guiding them, translating for them, connecting people for them, is a fixer.

On September 5th, Sultan Munadi was to bring New York Times journalist Stephen Farrell from Kaboul to Kunduz, Afghanistan. They were captured by Talibans and four days later, a commando of the British military decided to take things in charge. Despite screaming “journalist” at the top of his lungs, Sultan Munadi was killed. Stephen Farrell him, was rescued.

Western reporters risk their lives abroad. I have a lot of respect and compassion for the rigorous ones who chose to do so in the name of Journalism with a Big J.

The reality of most war journalists is that they ignore warnings. They go against strong advice regarding dangerous areas they were told not to go to. They go to get their story. Because of this, critics of Farrell are calling him “reckless” and “irresponsible”.

Although I think it is not fair to make that judgment, it is crucial to ask ourselves how Western journalists are using fixers.

War correspondents will come back home with a big story and a name for themselves. The fixer on the other hand, is the one who dies…taking equal the risks, without equal the glory or the pay.

So while we’re all concerned with who’s big moment Kanye West is gonna interrupt next, we are missing out on much more important issues.

And in 2009, we still don’t have freedom of press.

RIP Sultan Munadi


  1. Thank you for writing this. I did not know about any of this.

  2. You should see the HBO documentary "The Fixer."