For six weeks we had hoped against all odds that South African photojournalist Anton Hammerl was alive. For six weeks the family has been fed so many stories, so many lies. the rollercoaster of emotion was the most cruel and inhumane act. he’s alive, they were told, there is proof he is jail in Libya…and all they kept on asking was ‘show us the proof. Show us ANton is alive’, but instead the world kept on getting fed lies, for 45 days, no one knew what had happened to anton.
ANd finally yesterday when 4 journalists held captive by pro-Gadaffi forces in Libya were released did we hear the truth. Anton Hammerl, father to Aurora, 11, Neo, 7, and Hiro 14-weeks-0ld, husband to Penny, brother to Alex, son to Freda and Ludwig was killed on April 5 by Pro-Gadaffis forces in a remote part of Libya, doing what he loved. taking the story to the world of people subjugated, of people rising up.
The outpouring of love over the 6 weeks has been incredible, a friend started a facebook page, t-shirts were made, vigils were held in South Africa and in London where Anton lives with his family, a yellow ribbon of hope campaign was launched, demonstrations were held countrywide. “Find him, free him, bring him home”
WHen all emotions are put aside, one sees the great miracle Anton created, even in his death, which was kept hidden from the family and teh world for weeks, he was bringing people together . I learnt a lot about myself and about others and about being human in the six weeks that we campaigned for ANton and his family.
I cannot begin to think what all of them must be going through now. of having to tell your child their father isn’t coming home and another child who will never know his father. the pain is almost intolerable. For myself there is a sickening feeling deep inside the pit of my stomach, it is hrd to place a finger on what i feel, there are just too many emotions right now, it all seems surreal.
When his children are bigger they will see the lagacy their father left behind, they will see how he was so loved by everyone who he had touched in his life and they will be proud to be called his son.
It is hard to understand why? But to know that there was a very importnat reason for this. That ANton’s life and his death was a brave act and that it served a very high purpose and already I can see what they may be
I love you Anton. You will never be forgotten. Hamba Kahle my friend.
Please keep the Hammerl family in your prayers and hearts they need all the love and support right now.
As a member of the journalistic fraternity I condemn in the strongest terms the killing of journalists doing their work. It won’t bring anton back , but it may help others in the future
For a fuller story visit the page below
AN UPDATE: Anton’s remains have still not be brought home: A memorial service for him will go ahead on July 2…I had so hoped that Anton could have come home…my heart aches for hm and his family.
A fund has been started for his children if you can contribute please visit…www.freeanton.org
This is the letter from the family to SA President:
26 May 2011
Dear Mr President,
We come to you in this, the darkest hour of our lives.
For 45 days we campaigned to have Anton Hammerl found, freed and brought home from Libya.
In all those weeks we did not imagine that we would now be campaigning to have the remains of our son, our husband, our brother and our father brought home.
All we, as his family, have at our disposal to negotiate with Libya is you and the South African government. Anton was not backed by a big media corporation.
Today we beseech you, as a family man and father, as a South African, but mostly as president of this country, which has good relations with Libya and which is influential on the continent, to help locate Anton’s remains and have them returned home so that he can be put to rest.
We ask you to please be our hearts and to be our voices in appealing to Libya for the whereabouts of Anton’s remains.
It is imperative for us that he is not failed on this level.
We ourselves cannot rest until Anton is given a proper burial in South Africa at a site that will become a place where his children, Aurora (11), Neo (7) and Hiro (15 weeks) can come to pay tribute to their father.
Anton was a proud South African and a photographer with decades of experience covering South Africa. He was a true ambassador for the country in the journalistic profession.
From the moment Anton disappeared in Libya, we have lived an unimaginable nightmare, which became a living one when we heard last Thursday that he had been killed.
Our lives have come to a standstill and even though we now have some idea of what happened to Anton on April 5, our hearts and minds are still in Libya every waking moment, trying to reach out to our son, our husband, our brother and our father, not knowing where his body is.
We ask you to please use your influence on the continent to help finally bring Anton home to us, so that he can rest under the South African skies that he loved so much.
Our nightmare cannot end until he is home.
Penny (wife), Freda (mother) Ludwig (father) Alex (brother) Aurora (daughter), Neo (son) and Hiro (son)