Tel Abyad, Raqqa, Syria− Since the start of the anti-Assad uprising in Syria, media activists used to work under fake names to avoid arrest and execution, and the Kurdish region was not an exception.
After the Free Syrian Army (FSA) controlled the city of Tel Abyad/Girespi in the province of Raqqa, north Syria, media activists revealed their real names while reporting on the happenings, without fear of Assad forces who withdrew from the area. However, activists began hiding their real names again with the recent dominance of Islamists in the city.
Media activists in Tel Abyad are reportedly exposed to to different kinds of persecution and suppression by Islamist fighters, including arbitrary arrest and execution.
“Ali Hamza” is a fake name used by a group of media activists on the social media to report on the developments in Tel Abyad. Hundreds of violations were documented and supported by evidence under this name. Activists intend to reveal what they call “crimes committed by Islamist forces” in the area.
“To ensure their personal security, many activists are using fake names to document violations committed by Islmaist fighters,” said a media activist in Tel Abyad.
Khalil, 37, is an activist based in a village east of Tel Abyad and is one of those reporting under the name of “Ali Hamza”. He told ARA News that the majority of media activists are currently more worried about their personal security than ever −in reference to Islamists control in the area.
“We are trying to correct the course of the revolution after the dominance of Islmists in our region,” he said. “We are here to monitor and document human rights violations, especially those committed against the minorities in Raqqa and Tel Abyad”.
According to Khalil, using a fake name to document violations may minimize level of credibility for many people, “but the personal security of those activists remains crucial”.
“We want to increase the number of our staff (who document and report under the name of Ali Hamza) because we believe that an accurate documentation will convey a real image about the happenings to the world ,” he said, adding that the interaction with activists in different areas enriches the reports provided. “We became a source of information for many agencies, and we want to preserve the credibility of our reports.”
Dozens of media activists were reportedly detained, tortured and even executed by Islamist forces, especially by members of the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.
“Conveying a real image of the developments in Syria costed many of our colleagues their lives,” Khalil told ARA News.
Regarding the doubts of some agencies about the credibility of the footages and images taken by media activists in Syria, Khalil said: “Nobody would risk his/her life to convey a fake image. We bear our responsibility to report the reality on the ground, and we are risking our lives to achieve that. Using fake names does not mean we are documenting unreal facts, it is necessary to maintain our personal security in order to continue our activities.”
Khalil was arrested three times by the Assad regime, two times by the ISIL and once by Ahrar al-Sham. He was recently detained by the Kurdish forces of the Popular Protection Units (YPG) in the village of al-Jalabiya.
“Thus, I was arrested by all different armed groups in the area for my activities, and many others suffered the same. But we will continue reporting and documenting because we believe media plays a crucial role in accomplishing change,” Khalil said.
International organizations considered Syria as the most dangerous country for journalists and media activists in 2013.
Reporting by: Ridwan Bizar. Contribution: Abdul Ilah Ibrahim
Source: ARA News
(Editing by: Adib Abdulmajid)
For the latest news follow us on Twitter
Join our Weekly Newsletter