How Syria Cel­e­brates World Press Free­dom Day 2013

ARA News

By: Adib Abdul­ma­jid andReb­war Boski

Today, as jour­nal­ists all over the world cel­e­brate the day of free­dom of press, Syr­ian jour­nal­ists suf­fer the most amid the esca­lat­ing vio­lence across the coun­try. In such a day, Syr­i­ans are still strug­gling to obtain free­dom of expres­sion; jour­nal­ists are count­ing the grow­ing num­ber of their fel­lows who were sys­tem­at­i­cally killed over more than two years of uprising.

Dr. Kamal Sido, a Syr­ian Kur­dish mem­ber of the Middle-​East bureau in the Soci­ety for Threat­ened Peo­ples Inter­na­tional STPI, told ARA News that the Syr­ian régime has always sup­pressed jour­nal­ists in Syria.

 

“Since the start of the ongo­ing upris­ing against the régime of Assad, dozens of jour­nal­ists and media activists were killed, and the Assad régime is well known for its per­se­cu­tion to jour­nal­ists and free­dom of speech,” Sido told ARA News on 3rd May.

Accord­ing to Sido, the Islamist oppo­si­tion is not less dan­ger­ous than the régime regard­ing oppres­sion of free­dom of expres­sion. “The Islamist oppo­si­tion is also pur­su­ing jour­nal­ists and tries to repress them,” he said. “The cur­rent civil war in Syria claimed the lives of thou­sands of civil­ians includ­ing jour­nal­ists. Beside that war on the ground, there is an equiv­a­lent media war, and many of those killed are deemed vic­tims of the true word,” Sido stated.

Accord­ing to the Vio­la­tions Doc­u­men­ta­tion Cen­ter in Syria, more than 237 jour­nal­ists and cit­i­zen jour­nal­ists were report­edly killed in Syria since March 2013.

“The cen­ter doc­u­mented 237 casu­al­ties among jour­nal­ists and media activists since the start of the ongo­ing upris­ing and so far,” said Bas­sam al-​Ahmad, spokesper­son of the Vio­la­tions Doc­u­men­ta­tion Cen­ter in Syria. “Those vic­tims were killed while cov­er­ing the hap­pen­ings and devel­op­ment of events in dif­fer­ent areas of the coun­try. We have also doc­u­mented dozens of detainees who are still under arbi­trary arrest in the pris­ons of the Syr­ian régime,” al-​Ahmad added to ARA News.

Promi­nent Syr­ian jour­nal­ists are among the detainees, such as Hus­sein Isso, Sha­pal Ibrahim, Adnan Ziraeem Mazen Dar­wish, Ammar Sayeb and Abdul­ma­jid Temer. More­over, media activists were always tar­geted by pro-​Assad forces over two years while doc­u­ment­ing the inci­dents on the ground; the fact that raised the authority’s hos­til­ity against them and they were and still are con­sid­ered the main enemy to the régime.

“To be will­ing to die for the sake of con­vey­ing the true image of the sit­u­a­tion in Syria means that we will have the oppor­tu­nity to cel­e­brate the free­dom of press in the near future,” said Abdu­laziz Has­san, a Syr­ian media activist. “It seems that the jour­nal­ists and media activists are the main enemy to the régime because of the impor­tance of the role they play in the cur­rent con­flict,” he told ARA News.

Rwaida al-​Harfoush, a Syr­ian media activist, told ARA News that free­dom of press is one of the main rea­sons for the cur­rent pro-​democracy uprising.

“While the world is cel­e­brat­ing free­dom of press, Syr­ian jour­nal­ists are being exposed to the most severe kinds of vio­la­tions; killing, tor­tur­ing and dis­place­ment,” al-​Harfoush said. “Jour­nal­ists and media activists are scar­i­fy­ing for the sake of Syria’s free­dom from one of the most bru­tal regimes the world has wit­nessed ever; a régime that never hes­i­tates to carry out bloody crack­downs against its own peo­ple by using the heav­i­est and dead­liest weapons.”

Al- ​Harfoush added that the efforts made by Syr­ian jour­nal­ists dur­ing two years of rev­o­lu­tion will inevitably result in free­dom of press. “We are full of hope that the goals of our peo­ple will be accom­plished soon, and a free press will be estab­lished in Syria in the post-​dictatorship era,” she concluded.

Dilxwaz Behlewi is a Syr­ian Kur­dish jour­nal­ist who believes that the Syr­ian media activists could con­vey a gen­uine image of the sit­u­a­tion inside many areas in Syria, adding that those activists played a remark­able role in rais­ing the world’s atten­tion towards the Syr­ian cause.

“All bru­tal crack­downs and mas­sacres com­mit­ted by the régime were uncov­ered by Syr­ian media activists who took the advan­tage of the avail­abil­ity of the social media; the fact which led to a harsh reac­tion by the régime specif­i­cally against such activists,” Behlewi told ARA News. “Every Syr­ian sus­pected to have links with media activism was arbi­trar­ily arrested and in often sum­mar­ily executed.”

Behlewi con­sid­ers the rise of the cit­i­zen jour­nal­ists as one of the most remark­able accom­plish­ments of the Syr­ian upris­ing. “Cit­i­zen Jour­nal­ists could break down the tra­di­tional of prin­ci­ples of jour­nal­ism and con­vey through the cam­eras of their mobile phones an ama­teur images but cred­i­ble and trust­wor­thy,” he told ARA News

Accord­ing to the Press Free­dom Index, pub­lished recently by Reporters With­out Bor­ders, Syria occu­pies the 176th rank among the world’s coun­tries con­cern­ing free­dom of press.

Source: ARA News

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