8 violations against media in Syria documented in last November
8 violations, including the killing of 2 media professionals
Violations against media in Syria continue in the current year. However, they varied in number and type from one month to another. All conflicting sides purposely commit violations against media professionals who have played an important role in documenting news and violations. The security chaos in northern Syria, especially in Idlib, form the main reason for violations documented in November 2018.
The Syrian Centre for Journalistic Freedoms documented eight violations against media in November 2018 in Syria. 7 out of the 8 documented violations occurred in November while one violation was committed in October but documented in November after being verified according to the applied methodology. Hence, November witnessed a slight increase in violations comparing to that committed in October. However, both months witnessed the same number of violations, 8, documented by the Centre.
The security chaos in northern Syria, especially in Idlib, affected the type of violations committed in November; An unidentified armed group committed 2 violations in Idlib province by assassinating two media professionals while Turkish authorities, Turkish army, committed 2 violations in Raqqa’s Tal Abyad border city. Each of Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the Syrian regime, armed opposition’s Sultan Murad Division committed one violation. Also, one violation was committed out of Syria at the hands of Lebanese security forces.
Amid hard conditions surrounding media freedoms in Syria, and after assassination cases and torturing of media professionals in northern Syria, the Syrian Journalists Association (SJA) published 2 separated statements in November. The first statement was published on November 14, 2018, condemning violations committed against media professionals in northern Syria; the statement added that SJA has been following, with deep sorrow, escalated violations against media professionals in the northern areas of Syria; such violations remind Syrians of oppression committed by the Syrian regime against Syrians. SJA stressed on protecting media professionals and ensuring a safe environment for media work independently and holding all violators accountable.
The second statement published by SJA together with Ethical Charter for Syrian Media body on November 24, 2018, condemned the assassination of media professionals Raed Fares and Hamoud Jneed
The statement shed light on risks imposed on civil society, in general, and on media workers, in particular; the de facto forces on the ground aim at supressing voices and increasing control. The international community, especially the influential countries on the Syrian issue, have to take an urgent initiative to protect the Syrian people and stop targeting civilians and media professionals. The statement also called on media professionals in the conflicting areas to take all steps that can protect their lives and safety while they perform their work.
The Centre mainly documented in November 2018, killing, injuring, detaining and arrest cases. Media professionals Raed Mahmoud Fares and Hamoud Jneed were killed after unidentified armed men had opened fire on them in Idlib’s Kafranbel town, which is controlled by Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). Hence, the number of killed media professionals documented by the Centre since mid-March 2011 has risen to 437.
The Centre also documented in November the injury of media professionals Ibrahim Ahmad and Kolistan Muhammed by Turkish army near the border city of Raqqa’s Tal Abyad while they were in the city to cover news. It is worth mentioning that injury of Kolstan has increased the number of violations against female media professionals in Syria, or Syrian media professionals out of Syria, to 32 since mid-March 2011.
The Centre also documented the detaining of media professional Bilal Srewel Thursday, 8 November 2018 by the armed group of FSA’s Sultan Murad Division while he was in Aleppo’s Afrin filming news.
On Sunday, 11 November 2018 the detained Bilal was released. Meanwhile, Lebanese State Security branch arrested Syrian media professional Abdulhafiz al-Hawlani on grounds of preparing a report for Zaman al-Wasl newspaper about abortion cases suffered by Syrian women refugees in Lebanese Arsal camps. Abdulhafiz is still under arrest so far.
Furthermore, the prime solicitor-general of the Syrian regime in Aleppo issued an arrest warrant for journalist Rida al-Basha. A security patrol searched Rida’s home on Friday 9 November 2018 on the grounds of his stance towards municipal elections as he called to boycott the elections. Rida criticised confiscating Syrian electors’ opinion. Proceedings against the journalist were terminated after an official in Bath party intervened.
In November 2018, the Centre documented one violation against media centres and organizations as members of HTS banned Orient TV team from covering a sit-in, organized by activists, civil and revolutionary figures. The sit-in was held in front of the justice ministry of HTS’s salvation government to criticize practices of the mentioned government in the city.
As for geographical distribution, violations mainly occurred in northern Syria as Idlib witnessed 3 violations while Aleppo witnessed 2 violations. Raqqa also witnessed 2 violations while one violation occurred out of Syria by Lebanese authority.
Syrian Journalist Association
Syrian Center for Journalistic Freedoms