RSF URGES UN TO PRESS FOR SYRIAN JOURNALIST’S RELEASE
After addressing the UN Security Council yesterday, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) secretary-general Christophe Deloire gave a news conference at UN headquarters in New York together with Yara Bader, the wife of the imprisoned Syrian journalist and free speech activist Mazen Darwish. The two urged the United Nations to do everything possible to ensure that its resolutions on the protection of journalists are implemented in Syria.
The founder of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), Mazen Darwish has been held by the Syrian government, along with two of his employees, Hani Al-Zaitani and Hussein Ghareer, for more than three years. A few days after UNESCO awarded him its annual press freedom prize on 3 May, he and his colleagues were removed from Adra prison. His family has had no news of him since then.
“Darwish’s disappearance right after the ceremony at which UNESCO awarded him its Guillermo Cano prize was an aggressive reaction by the Syrian authorities,” Deloire said. “The international community should not tolerate it. The UN and its member states should ensure that Syria implements the resolutions that have been adopted.”
Bader called on the Syrian authorities to implement the UN General Assembly’s resolution on the release of Darwish and his colleagues, and urged the international community to do more to protect journalists in the field, who are exposed to danger as soon as they try to work properly.
She said it was important to support those like Darwish who dream and strive for a better future. Despite an oppressive environment for news providers in Syria, Darwish has sacrificed more than ten years of his life for Syria, becoming a major source of vital information about his country.
“We need to know where Mazen Darwish is and we hold the Syrian authorities responsible for his life,” said Bader, who last saw her husband in January and has had no word from him since the start of this month.
Darwish was arrested along with all of the SCM’s employees when Syrian air force intelligence officers raided the centre’s Damascus headquarters in February 2012. The victim of torture, he was brought a judge for the first time in February 2013. Since then, his trial has been postponed more than 20 times and he has become an emblem of how the regime suppresses freedom of information.
The UN General Assembly called for the release of Darwish and his colleagues in its Resolution 67/262 of 15 May 2013. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention did the same in January 2014. Security Council Resolution 2139 of 22 February 2014 called for the release of all persons arbitrarily detained in Syria. Despite all these appeals, the three men continue to be held.
Deloire reminded reporters of the grim situation of the media in Syria, nowadays the world’s deadliest country for journalists.
A total of 45 journalists and 127 citizen-journalists have been killed in Syria since the start of the conflict, while 30 are being held in the regime’s jails and 25 (of whom five are foreigners) are the hostages of radical Islamist groups. In Iraq, seven journalists have been killed since Islamic State began its offensive in June 2014, and nine journalists are currently being held by IS.
date : 28/05/2015