World Press Freedom Day in Syria

4444ntitledThe most horrible violations and crimes against journalists and media activists are still being perpetrated by various armed sides, which emerged in the last year as a strong competitor to the Syrian regime which is still the strongest and most notable party who perpetrated these crimes. These crimes had a negative impact on the press freedom and its professionalism. Media activists in Syria are becoming victims of horrible acts including killing, torturing, arresting, kidnapping, threatening, pursuing, and freedom repression. This made the media work one of the most dangerous professions in Syria, especially with the rising and non-stopping violence of the armed conflict for more than three years.Besides the expansion and the complexity of the conflicting factions’ territories.

To imagine how big the disaster of the media work in Syria is, the horrifying numbers and facts that came into existence during the past three years of revolution in Syria must be shown. Government forces have killed since the beginning of the revolution until the end of April 2014 no less than 328 media activists; among them were photographers, journalists, civil journalists, and media activists; including 12 foreign media workers. 16 media activist have been killed in April alone; three of them were tortured to death.

Government forces have arrested no less than 848 media workers, they have been tortured brutallywhich killed 19 of them under torture inside the detention centers of the various sides; the last but not the least of them was“PalestineToday” channel’s journalist: Belal Ahmed Belal.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), who is affiliated to Al-Qaeda, has killed no less than 13 media activist and arrested 42 others; 18 of them were released while 23 are still prisoned.

The armed opposition has killed no less than eight media activists; among them were two media workers affiliated to the Syrian government, while 37 others have been kidnapped and arrested.

These killings, torturing, and kidnapping actsmade hundreds of media workers leave the country after they’ve realized it’s impossible to work inside Syria because of many reasons; the most important of whichwas the lack of safety, freedom, and the appropriate environment.We’re talking about a continuous bleeding and hundreds of media workers that the media field are losing. Killing and kidnapping of foreign journalists can’t be ignored anymore as it pushed the foreign media agencies to prohibit and warn its journalists from entering Syria.All of that puts us in front of a deteriorated reality that is considered a crisis in every way.

In other words, the media reality in some of the hot areas can be summarized into the following points:

–          The Syrian media field suffers from a big increasing void, and the lack of an appropriate environment for the press to work in due to the increasing violence against media workersby all armed sides, mainly by the governmental forces and ISIS.

–          The Syrian regime, by a big difference, takes the lead, in quality and quantity, of the crimes against media activists, as there are new incidents of torturing- to-death that involve the Syrian regime every month in addition to tens of media activiststhat are still in arbitrary detention. This systemized policy of targeting media activists through killing, harassing, and pursuing them hasn’t changed.

–          The growing of war journalism on the account of free civil media journalism, especially in the official Syrian media, where the idea of the armed or fighting journalist has been spread widely, as some people tried to combine betweenthe profession of journalism and fighting, which violates the basic media standards. Thiswasn’t hidden as some of the journalists published pictures of them holding weapons proudly or pictures of them being involved in military operations. This is true also for some of the opposing media activists who had to join armed troops seeking protection and safety.

–          ISIS, who is affiliated to Al-Qaeda,  was able to imposeits rules by force in the areas that it controls, especially in Ar-Raqqa city and some of Aleppo countryside towns through methodologically silencing voices and oppressing freedoms forcibly in a manner that is similar tothe the Syrian regime; killing, torturing, kidnapping, pursuing and harrasing. This evoked some of the activists to launch a campaign under the slogan “Ar-Raqqa is being slaughtered in silence” to highlight the violations and crimes in the city. On the other side, ISIS has threatened the supervisors of the campaign to kill them as it charged themwith disbelieving and secularism, and launched huge arresting campaigns among the internet cafes.

–          It’s noticed lately the huge deterioration of press freedom on the Syrian lands under the control of the Kurdish party PYD as the party and its people are arresting, pursuing, beating, torturing, and threatening media activists without any hesitation. In some cases they exile some of the media activists to Iraqi Kurdistan under the charge of betrayal in order to silence other voices and scare those who works in the news section.

SNHR affirms the necessity of quick serious actions by the civil organizations and committees to press on the decision-makers around the world in order to stop the bleeding of the media field in Syria and to highlight the suffering of the Syrian media activists widely. SNHR also affirms its condemnationof all the violations against press freedom and truth transferring by any side whatever its type or size. Additionally we emphasize the necessity of respecting the media freedom and those who work in the media field, this field must have its due attention and consideration. Furthermore,All those who are involved in the violations against journalists and media activists must held accountable.