Including Five Media Activists Killed at the Hands of the Syrian and Russian Regimes
SNHR has published its monthly report documenting the violations by the various conflict parties in Syria against media activists who play a prominent role in the civil movement and the armed conflict.
According to the report, media activism in Syria is continuously deteriorating as many international organizations are not paying enough attention to what is happening in Syria and the notable decline in media coverage over the last year compared with previous years.
The report notes that a journalist is a civilian according to the international humanitarian law regardless of his nationality. Any attack directed against a journalist is considered a war crime. However, when a media activist gets close to military targets, he is responsible for his own actions where targeting him in such case would be seen as collateral damage. Also, he would lose the right to protection if he was involved in military operations. The report also notes that media activists must be respected whether they have identification papers as media workers or don’t considering the many difficulties they encounter to acquire these papers.
According to SNHR’s methodology, a civilian journalist is anyone who plays a notable role in reporting and publishing news. He is not necessarily impartial as a journalist should be.
In case a civilian journalist carried a weapon and was directly engaged in offensive military operations, he is no longer deemed a citizen journalist whereas it is possible that he would be referred to as a civilian journalist again provided he retires completely from military action.
This report draws upon SNHR archive and the investigations conducted by the Network in addition to accounts by victims’ families, information from local activists, and analyzing the pictures and video footages that we have been receiving amid security and logistic difficulties to access all the areas where violations take place. Therefore, it is worth noting that these statistics and incidents are only the bare minimum of the actual magnitude of crimes and violations that happened.
The report sheds light on the most notable violations against media activists that occurred in September 2016 where the report recorded the killing of four media activists at the hands of government forces, one media activist at the hands of Russian forces, and two media activists by ISIS in addition to one media activist who was killed by unidentified groups.
Furthermore, the report documented four cases of arrest by Self-management forces where the detained four were released later, one release by government forces and one release from a detention center that the report couldn’t identify the party to which the detention center is affiliated.
According to the report, four media activists were injured by government forces and four others were injured by Russian forces.
Additionally, the report recorded an assault on a media center by Russian forces and one beating by Self-management forces against a female media activist.
The report emphasizes that serious and quick steps must be taken to save media activism in Syria and renews its condemnation of all violations against the freedom of media activism regardless of the perpetrators. The freedom of media must be respected and the workers in the media field must be protected and particularly considered.
The report calls on the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic to conduct investigations that focuses on the targeting of media activists given their vital role in recording incidents in Syria.
Also, the report calls on international and Arabic media institution to advocate their colleagues in the field of media by publishing periodic reports that shed light on their daily suffering and memorialize their sacrifice.