The killing of 5 Media Activists; the abduction and detention of 4 activists in April 2016
SNHR issued its monthly report concerning the violations against media activists by all conflict parties in Syria. The report which issued on the world press freedom day depicted the the most promenant violations against the media activists since the popularuprising in March 2011.
The report stated that SNHR does not talk about the withholding of sites, licensing requirements for practicing journalism, and the absence of independent or private media. In spite of the importance of this, those violations are barely significant comparing to what the Syrian government is doing:
The monthly killings that did not stop even for one month, arrests and detention, torture, enforced disappearance, in addition to the prevention and prohibition of journalists, media activists, and jurists who might offer an opposite point of view of the governmental mass media and their supporters ( Iranian – Lebanese – Iraqi – the last three on the background of inciting sectarian).
The report mentioned that the level and quality of documented violations indicate that the government forces causing violations by nearly 90%. However, all parties practices, in a way or another, some kinds of repression on the media. They also deformed facts and exaggerate in showing the brutality of the enemy which lead to the loss of fairness and subjectivity; knowing that all authorities are aware of the danger that can be exposed by the mass media.
The report explained that the enormous amount of targeting journalists and media activists leads to their migration from the country and a fear of return. That has deprived the Syrian society from those who transported to the world their sufferings in addition to the absence of their indescribable epics.
It pointed out to many ethnic acts by pro-government correspondents and other violations committed by the forces of Kurdish Democratic Union Party are taking are considered as an abuse of the dead bodies, and this is a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law. ISIL also showed cruel operations during the execution of some journalists who were kidnapped.
According to the SNHR methodology a citizen journalist is anyone who plays an important role in covering and publishing news even if he/she is not impartial as opposed to what a journalist should be. When a citizen journalist carries a weapon and gets involved directly in armed clashes, he/she is no longer a citizen journalist unless he/she completely retires from military action.
The report depended on SNHR’s archives and investigations in addition to the testimonies of victims’ families and relatives. Information they collected from local activists, and the verified pictures and videos they received. It also indicated that those statistics and facts are the bare minimum of the violations and crimes that happened in light of the security and logistic difficulties and challenges they are facing in order to reach the locations where those violations occurred.
The report presented the toll of the violations committed against media personnel since the uprising in March 2011 as it SNHR documented the killing of 481 media activists, including 5 foreign journalists, a woman, and 34 journalists due to torture at the hand of government forces. While the armed opposition groups killed 18 media activists including 3 women. Russian forces killed 6 media activists. ISIL killed 34 media activists including women and 3 foreign journalists and Al Nusra killed 5 media activists. Kurdish Self-Management forces killed 2 media activists. While 12 media activists were killed by unidentified groups.
The report recorded 1086 cases of arrests or abductions, detailed as follows: government forces detained 876 media activists, including 4 foreign journalists. Detention and abduction of 47 media activists including 5 foreign journalists by the armed opposition groups. ISIL kidnapped and detained 65 media activists including a woman and 14 foreign journalists. Al Nusra kidnapped and detained 33 media activists including 2 foreign journalists. Kurdish self-management forces detained 34 media activists. Unidentified groups detained 30 media activists including 8 foreigners. Jund Al Aqsa Organization kidnapped one journalist and released him later.
The report offered the most significant violations committed against media personnel in April 2016 as ISIL killed two journalists. While the armed opposition groups, Kurdish self-management and unidentified groups killed one journalist for each.
The report documented one release case by the following government forces, Al Nusra front and Kurdish self-management. One release case was by unidentified groups.
According to the report 5 media activists were injured by government forces and one media activist was injured by both rassian forces and unidentified groups.
The report indicated that the massive violations against journalists and the media activists caused more violence in a way that cannot be imagined in our modern age. Moreover, it leads to the wide spread of hating the speech as it becomes inciting, sectarian, and ethnic. Accordingly, SNHR recommended the need to save what can be saved through showing respect for the basic principles embodied in the international covenants, and the attempt of the obligation of independence and impartiality as far as possible.
It also recommended International Commission Inquiry to investigate the targeting of the media activists, and Security Council to Control the escaping from punishment policy by referring the Syria case to International Criminal Court.
It also recommended the International and Arab media institutions to support their colleagues by highlighting the daily media activists suffering and immortalize their sacrifices.