The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today voiced deep concern over the continued killing of both professional and citizen journalists in Syria. Her comment came following news of the violent death of eight journalists since late November: newspaper editor Naji Assaad, TV reporter Bassel Tawfiq Youssef; professional journalist Abdel Khalil; and citizen journalists Hozan Abdel Halim Mahmoud; Mohammed Al-Khalid; Abdullah Hassan Kaake; Mohammad Al-Zaher, also known as Abu Nasser Na’imi; and Mustafa Kerman.
“I am deeply concerned about the continued killings that have decimated the ranks of professional and citizen journalists in Syria in recent weeks” the Director-General said.
“The killing of journalists and bloggers is not only a crime against individuals and a breach of their inalienable human right of freedom of expression. It is also a crime against society’s right to access information and engage in democratic debate,” Ms Bokova concluded.
Naji Asaad, a retired journalist who continued working for government-run newspaper Tishreen was shot dead outside his home in Damascus on 4 December and government television journalist Bassel Tawfiq Youssef was killed on 21 November in a suburb of Damascus. Citizen journalist Hozan Abdel Halim Mahmoud was killed one day earlier while filming clashes in the north-eastern province of Al-Hasaka. Abed Khalil, a professional journalist who was the president of Ras Al-Ain’s Kurdish municipal council, was killed by a sniper during clashes on 19 November. Mohammed Al-Khalid, a citizen-journalist from Homs, is reported to have been executed by an armed group in Aleppo on 18 November and Abdullah Hassan Kaake, also a citizen-journalist, is said to have died under torture in the same city one day earlier.
Two other citizen-journalists are reported to have been killed by shell fire: Mohammad Al-Zaher, also known as Abu Nasser Na’imi, on 19 November in Damascus, and Mustafa Kerman on 16 November in Aleppo.
These deaths bring to 40 the number of reporters and citizen journalists killed in Syria this year. They are remembered on the dedicated UNESCO condemns the killing of journalists
Media contact: Sylvie Coudray, s.coudray(at)unesco.org, +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…”