Two Media Activists Killed, and Five Injured in December 2016
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 as long as he is involved in such operations.
This report draws upon SNHR’s 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 highlights the death toll of media activists that have fallen in 2016, where 86 media activists were killed including 41 media activists killed by Syrian regime where among them were one woman and four media activists who died due to torture. In addition, Russian forces killed 11 media activists, while 20 media activists were killed by ISIS including one woman. Additionally, armed opposition factions killed eight media activists, whereas Kurdish Self-management forces killed two media activists in addition to four media activists killed by other parties.
According to the report, two arrest cases, who were released later, for which Syrian regime forces were responsible were recorded in addition to five other releases.
Also, the report documented one arrest case at the hands of ISIS where the arrested media activist was release later, while Fateh Al Sham Front arrested 12 media activists where 11 of the arrested 12 media activists were released including one woman in addition to four other releases by the group.
The report records that six media activists were arrested by armed opposition factions in 2016, where five media activists out of the six were release in addition to three other releases. Kurdish Self-management forces arrested 13 media activists in 2016 and released 11 media activists of the 13 arrested in addition to one other release.
The report documents 10 abduction cases by other parties, nine of the 10 abductees were released later in addition to one other release.
Additionally, the report notes that two missing cases were recorded in 2016.
According to the report, 123 media activists were injured in 2016 including 73 at the hands of the Syrian regime, while 31 media activists were injured by Russian forces, eight by ISIS, three by armed opposition factions, and two by the Kurdish Self-management forces, in addition to six injuries of media activists for which other parties were responsible
The report also says that media activists were victims of other violations that amounted to 18 incidents in 2016 – eight incidents were by Syrian regime forces, one by Russian forces, two by Fateh Al Sham Front, four by armed opposition factions, one by Kurdish Self-management forces, and two by other parties.
The report sheds light on the most notable violations against media activists that occurred in December 2016 where the report recorded the killing of two media activists at the hands of Syrian regime forces. One of the two media activists died due to torture.
Furthermore, the report documented one release by Syrian regime forces, and one abduction by other groups. in which the abductee was released later
According to the report, five media activists were injured by Syrian regime forces.
Moreover, the report records two incidents of offense by Syrian regime forces where one female journalist’s press visa was withdrawn, and a media office was bombed.
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.