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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