UNESCO Director-General condemns murder of two journalists in Syria

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has denounced the murders of Franco-Belgian journalist Yves Debay, killed in Aleppo on 17 January, and Syrian television reporter Mohamed Al-Massalma, shot dead on 18 January at Bousra al-Harir in the province of Deraa.

“I condemn the murders of Yves Debay and Mohamed Al-Massalma” said the Director-General. “They join a long list of journalists killed in Syria and I urge, once again, all parties to respect the civilian status of media workers, who fulfill a vital mission in keeping people informed during conflict situations. This is also an issue of freedom of expression, which is a basic human right.”


Yves Debay, 58, was killed by a sniper while working on a story in the northern city of Aleppo. He was a specialist on the military and had been covering the Syrian conflict for Assaut, a French review he founded five years ago


Mohamed Al-Massalma, also known as Mohamed Al-Hourani, 33, was also killed by sniper fire, while covering a confrontation between the Syrian army and opposition forces in the village of Bousra al-Harir. He was a correspondent for Al Jazeera, the Qatari television network, in the Deraa province in southern Syria.


Yves Debay and Mohamed Al-Massalma are remembered on UNESCO’s dedicated web page 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…”