Samir Kassir Foundation Quarterly Report on Press and Cultural Freedom Violations - Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine
BEIRUT: In January 2014, thirteen journalists and citizen journalists, including ten in Aleppo, were killed in Syria; four of them were executed by members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham, while three others were killed on the same day when covering clashes between the Syrian army and the rebels. Several media offices were shelled and destroyed.
Israeli aggressions against Palestinian journalists continued in the West Bank and the 1948 Territories and a number of Palestinian journalists were summoned for questioning and detained by the Palestinian security services in the West Bank.
In Lebanon, unknown assailants set fire to the Al-Saeh library in Tripoli. Al-Manar correspondent, Abbas Karnib, succumbed to his injuries after the Haret Hreik suicide bombing.
Below is a detailed summary of the violations monitored by the SKeyes Center in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine.
In Lebanon, Al-Manar correspondent Abbas Karnib succumbed to his injuries two days after the suicide bombing in Haret Hreik, in the southern suburbs of Beirut (01/06). Tripoli’s Al-Saeh library was set aflame; valuable books and manuscripts were destroyed (01/03). Also, the Army Intelligence arrested civic activist Bilal Hussein, after he published a cartoon of Lebanese Army Commander Jean Kahwaji on his Facebook profile (01/21). The Internal Security Forces’ anti-cybercrime office interrogated blogger Gino Raidy following an article he published on his blog last July (01/29) and unknown people damaged two graffiti paintings by artist Yazan Halawani in Hamra (01/16).
In Syria, thirteen citizen journalists, including ten in Aleppo, were killed in January. Mohammad Nour (01/06), Ahmad Mansour, Hussam Saïdi and Marwan Mansour (01/17) were killed while covering the fighting between the Syrian army and opposition forces, while Qutaiba Abu Yunis, Amin Abu Mohammad, Sultan Al-Shami and Mohammad Quranieh were executed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (ISIS) (01/06). Amer Al-Shun was killed by a bullet inside his house (01/04) and Bilal Shahoud succumbed to his injuries (01/04). Also, Mohammad Ibrahim was killed in Homs (01/09), Ibrahim Al-Khalil in Rif Homs (01/24) and Mohannad Mohebeddin in Rif Dimashq, while covering the battles. The Kafranbel media office director, Raed Mohammad Al-Fares, survived an assassination attempt in the province of Idlib (01/27).
In Aleppo, unknown gunmen stormed into the Al-Massaranieh media office and abducted citizen journalist Hussam Al-Halabi (01/11). Additionally, ISIS members broke into the Anadolu agency office and stole the equipment and devices (01/21). The regime’s military police arrested the Halab News Network correspondent, Mohammad Rassoul (01/16) and the Syrian intelligence services arrested journalist Fares Nagib Agha in Aleppo (01/09) and the Rudaw Kurdish channel correspondent, Pishawa Pahlavi, in Qamishli (01/14). The anti-terrorism court of Damascus interrogated artists Leila Awad and Samar Kokash, before arresting Awad (01/20); the same court also decided to postpone the trial of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression members for the sixth consecutive time (01/27).
In addition, several media offices were destroyed when the regime’s warplanes shelled residential neighborhoods. The Shahba Press agency office in Aleppo was completely destroyed by explosive barrels (01/21). Also, the regime’s warplanes dropped an explosive barrel on the Darayya press office in Rif Dimashq (01/25) and the regime’s army shelled the media office in Mzayrib (01/14).
Regime supporters beat journalists Rami Al-Jarrah, Ahmad Zakariya and Adnan Haddad in Switzerland, while covering a sit-in in front of the building where the Geneva II peace conference was held (01/22).
In Jordan, the chairman of the Finance Parliamentary Committee banned journalists from covering budget discussions (01/06) and the Gerasa News website representative, Sahar Al-Muhtasseb, was not allowed to attend one of the parliamentary sessions (01/05). Access to parliamentary debates was subsequently limited to members of the Journalists’ Syndicate (01/06).
A satirical show, entitled “Haki Jarayed” and broadcasted on Roya TV, was banned (01/01). Unknown people smashed the head of a wooden sculpture representing a woman on the University of Jordan’s Fine Arts campus (01/16). Judicially, journalist Walid Hosni appeared before the court, following two complains filed against him by MP Mohammad Al-Dawaymeh (01/20) and the criminal court of Amman postponed the trial of artist Tareq Al-Jundi (01/21).
In the Gaza Strip, three violations took place: Palestinian cartoonist Majida Shaheen received death threats, after she published a cartoon representing Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh trying to tame an angry dog with the words “Al-Quds Brigades” written on its collar (01/22), the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate dismissed the editor-in-chief of Palestine Today, Saleh Al-Masra, before reversing its decision two weeks later (01/10), and the Qassam Brigades Twitter account was shut down without notice (01/09).
In the West Bank, Israeli violations continued. Agence France-Presse (AFP) photographer, Jaafar Ashtieh was hit by teargas grenades (01/24). Also, Israeli soldiers beat several journalists and photographers who were covering the demolition of commercial shops in Beit Awwa, including Pal Media photographers Amer Abdeen and Abd Al-Natsheh, AFP photographer Hazem Badr, Palestine TV, cameraman Thaer Fakouseh and Chinese Xinhua news agency Ma’moun Wazouz (01/20). Israeli forces also arrested the correspondent of Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah TV channel, Atef Abu Al-Rab (01/08), Panet agency photographer Mohammad Sbeih (01/13), European Press Agency photographer Abdul-Hafiz Al-Hashlamoun and Wafa agency photographer, Ahmad Mezher (01/26).
Internally, the Palestinian security services broke into the house of Al-Majd channel correspondent, Mohammad Al-Kik, in Ramallah and summoned him three times (01/08). Also, Palestinian services arrested Palestine Today correspondent Hadi Al-Debs (01/09) and Raya news agency photographers Samer Nazzal and Shadi Hatem, who were covering the fighting between Al-Jalazoun refugee camp inhabitants and security officers (01/12).
Additionally, the bodyguards of Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, beat Al-Mahed TV channel cameraman Amer Hijazi and banned other journalists from filming Harper’s visit to the Nativity church in Bethlehem (01/20). Also, novelist Esmat Mansour received an anonymous letter containing death threats and asking him to burn the copies of his latest novel (01/12).
In the 1948 Territories, the Israeli police continued its violations against Palestinian journalists and correspondents. Wafa news agency photographer Ayman Al-Nawbati was injured after being hit by two teargas grenades (01/17). Also, the police arrested Al-Jazeera channel cameraman Labib Jazmawi in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa mosque and questioned him (01/22), while a policeman held journalist Sleiman Khodr at gunpoint, during the coverage of the prisoners’ release in the Al-Issawiyah village, where the policemen also attacked journalists with stun grenades (01/01).
Also, Al-Mayadeen correspondent Hanaa Mahamid and three other journalists were threatened and victims of harassment (01/26), journalist Rabih Eid was jostled and insulted by students at the University of Haifa, following an article he published on his blog (01/15) and Israel’s military court extended the detention of artist Omar Saad Zahreddine for twenty days, after he refused to perform compulsory military service (01/12).