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Syria silencing all critics; Al-jazeera journalist missing

Syrian protesters take part in a protest calling for Syria's President Bashar al-Assad to step down, in front of the Syrian embassy in Amman May 1, 2011.

Anyone who dares to speak out in Syria continues to be exposed to arbitrary arrest.

One of the latest victims is Omar Koush, a writer and journalist from Aleppo, was arrested on arrival at Damascus airport Monday after participating in a conference in Turkey. He wrote an article on April 29 titled “Turkey: dual relations between Arab countries on the one hand and Islamist organizations on the other.”

Al-Jazeera announced in a statement Monday that it has lost contact with one of its journalists, Dorothy Parvez, since her arrival in Damascus on April 29 aboard a Qatar Airways flight, and asked the authorities to say what had happened to her. “We are very concerned for Dorothy’s safety,” an Al-Jazeera spokesman said. “We request the full cooperation of the Syrian authorities in determining what happened to her at the airport, where she is now, and what her state of health is. We want her returned to Al-Jazeera safely at once.”

A journalist with Canadian and Iranian dual citizenship, Parvez, 39, has worked for Al-Jazeera since 2010.

Al-Jazeera announced on April 27 that it was suspending all activities throughout Syria until further notice because of the many threats and acts of intimidation against its crews. Its Syrian employees have repeatedly been threatened by the authorities, and stones and eggs were thrown at its offices on April 24, 25 and 26. Around 100 people gathered outside its Damascus bureau on April 30, accusing it of “lying” and “exaggerating” in its coverage of the anti-government protests that began in mid-March.

Firas Fayyad, a 27-year-old Facebook activist and film director who studied filmmaking in France, was abducted from an Internet café on April 30. His latest film, Damascus, is about contemporary Syria and the Arab world’s political problems. His arrest is the latest in a long list of abuses against journalists that has included obstruction, physical attacks, arbitrary arrests and the deportation of foreign news agency and newspaper correspondents. It has become impossible for journalists to do their job in Syria and cover the current protests.

The Syrian regime has also launched a wave of arrests of political activists. Human rights lawyer Hassan Ismail Abdel Azim, 81, was arrested at his office yesterday. Writer and opposition activist Hazem Nahar was arrested on 28 April. In response to the violent crackdown on protests, the UN Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution calling for a fact-finding mission to be sent to Syria to identify those responsible for the human rights violations.

The following are still detained:

  • Fayez Sara, a journalist and writer who was arrested on April 11
  • Khaled Sid Mohand, an Algerian journalist working for Le Monde (and a regular contributor to Radio France) who was arrested on April 9
  • Mohamed Zaid Mistou, a Norwegian journalist of Syrian origin, who was arrested on April 7
  • Kamal Sheikhou, a blogger who was arrested on March 15

There has been no news of journalists Akram Abu Safi and Sobhie Naeem Al-Assal since March 24.

Date posted: May 2, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 17