Director-General condemns continued killing of Syrian citizen journalists
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today voiced alarm at the killing of seven Syrian citizen journalists between 10 June and 4 July. The Director-General stressed the need for the authorities to investigate these cases and take steps to ensure the safety of journalists in Syria. “I condemn the deaths of Suhaib Dib, Mohamed Hamdo Hallaq, Samer Khalil Al-Sataleh, Ghias Khaled Al-Hmouria, Omar Al-Ghantawi, Ahmed Hamada and Khaled Al-Bakir, who lost their lives while covering events in Syria. Their names are a regrettable addition to the all-too-long list of reporters killed on the line of duty. The free flow of information ensured by journalists - both professionals and citizen journalists – is an essential condition for democracy and for peaceful debate among citizens and their ability to do their work must be preserved.
“In keeping with the United Nations Resolutions on Syria, I call on all parties to put an immediate end to bloodshed,” said the Director-General.
Suhaib Dib, a citizen journalist and an activist well-known in Damascus, is reported to have been the victim of a targeted killing on 4 July in the suburb of Al-Meliha.
Mohamed Hamdo Hallaq, also a citizen journalist, died during the shelling of the northern town of Azaz on 2 July.
Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders confirmed the death of citizen journalist Samer Khalil Al-Sataleh during the 28 June shelling of Douma.
On 25 June, citizen journalist Ghias Khaled Al-Hmouria was shot dead in Douma while filming an operation of the rebel Free Syrian Army.
Sniper fire claimed the life of Omar Al-Ghantawi, 19, another citizen journalist on 21 June. He was mortally wounded while filming the shelling of Homs.
Ahmed Hamada was killed by a sniper in Homs, five days earlier. The 26-year-old cameraman was shot while filming the shelling of the city.
On 10 June, Khaled Al-Bakir, a citizen journalist also known as Abu Sliman, 30, was killed by an artillery shell in the town of Al-Qassir, south of Homs.
In total at least 22 journalists, local and international, have been killed while covering events in Syria since the start of 2012. The full list of assassinated journalists can be found on the Organization’s dedicated webpage.
Media contact: Sylvie Coudray, +33 (0)1 45 68 42 12
UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”