Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Journalists as a Syria war casualty

As the Syria war enters its 1,000th day and Syria is labeled “the world’s most dangerous country for journalists,” Syrian media have united for the first time to demand an end to the crimes and abuses committed against all journalists and media workers in their country.

They issued a statement jointly signed by Syrian media, Syrian NGOs, leading international NGOs and high profile personalities.

The statement says:
On October 1, forces from the armed group the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS) raided Radio Ana offices in Raqqah.
On October 15, they raided the office a second time, taking possession of all radio and communications equipment.
This example of abuses against the press shall not remain unnoticed, nor should it be considered as an isolated case. The “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS) is targeting the newborn independent Syrian press in a deliberate strategy to crush press freedom and to impose a renewed and constant censorship upon the Syrian people.
We, the undersigned,
Refuse any form of intimidation against journalists, citizen journalists, media activists or media organizations, by any group, in any context, and under any pretext.
Press freedom and freedom of expression are inalienable and universal human rights. Any abuse against these universal rights must be condemned and opposed.
We call on the whole Syrian civil society, its political institutions and its media groups to take relevant action to expose these practices, to oppose them, and to protect the media from these dangers.
We demand the immediate release of all detained journalists and citizen journalists held by the regime, ISIS or any other group.
Additionally, we call on international media and those organizations in support of press freedom to join this initiative and to take relevant action for the safety of journalists and freedom of speech in Syria.
Signed by: Ibrahim al-Jabin, Syrian writer; Aktham Naisse, director of Sham Center for Democratic Studies and Human Rights; Burhan Ghallioun, Syrian politician; Bassam Ishak, member of the Syrian National Council; Rasha Omran, writer and poet; Salameh Kaileh, writer; Suheir al-Attasi, political activist; Subhi Hadidi, literary critic; Ammar al-Qurabi, Syrian politician; Ghassan Mouflih, member of the Syrian National Council; Faraj Berakdar, poet; Mohamad Dughmosh, journalist and Al-Arabiya reporter; Hadi al-Bahra, Syrian politician; Mouaz al-Khatib, mosque preacher and Syrian politician; Molham al- Drobi, member of the Muslim Brotherhood; Nouri al-Jarrah, poet; Robin Yassin-Kassab, writer; U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas; Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Liberal Democrats (European Parliament); Koert Debeuf, European Parliament.
You can also add your signature here.
Impossible job?
In a November 6 report, Reporters Without Borders says Syria is now “the world’s most dangerous country for journalists.”
More than 110 news providers have been killed in the course of their work there since March 2011 and more than 60 are currently detained, held hostage or missing.
Reporters Without Borders released the report -- Journalism in Syria, impossible job? -- as Edouard Elias and Didier François, two French TV journalists who were abducted on June 6, began their sixth month in captivity in Syria. Two other French journalists, Nicolas Hénin and Pierre Torres, have been held hostage for five-and-a-half months.
It examines the growing perils of journalism in Syria. It also analyzes the evolution in the dangers and identifies the origins of the threats and difficulties Syrian and foreign news providers have encountered during the 33 months of the conflict.
At the start of the uprising, the Syrian army and its civilian thugs retaliated against journalists covering the anti-Assad protests and the government’s crackdown. Now, the report notes, Syrian and foreign journalists are targeted not only by the regular army but also by Jihadist groups in the “liberated areas” in the north, and by the security forces of the PYD, the main political force in the regions with a mainly Kurdish population.
Bashar al-Assad was Syria’s only representative on the Reporters Without Borders annual list of “Predators of press freedom” in 2011. But Jabhat al-­Nusra was added to the list in 2013 and now, Reporters Without Borders says other Jihadist groups, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), deserve to be included.
Aside from the human toll, the report also shows that news coverage is one of the war’s collateral victims. The regime uses the state media in a propaganda and disinformation war, while the new media that quickly emerged after the start of the conflict have tended to turn into puppets of the “revolution” even if some of them strive to be professional.