The bloodshed in Syria has once again overshadowed all the violations carried out on the media and cultural scene in September 2012, in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine, the four countries that the SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom monitors.
Several Syrian journalists, correspondents and activists died while covering the violent shelling of Syrian cities and the clashes between the armed forces and the rebels. Eleven journalists and two filmmakers were killed. The atrocity of violations reached its peak with the execution of writer Ibrahim Al-Kharit and his two sons in Deir ez-Zor, in front of their neighbors and family.
Below is a detailed summary of the violations compiled by the SKeyes Center in all four countries.
In Lebanon, a number of correspondents, journalists, photographers, and activists were physically assaulted during the month of September 2012. Unknown men attacked Antoine Amrieh, a reporter for The Daily Star, who was covering a protest in Tripoli; they also broke his camera (09/14). Moreover, members of the Army and the Parliament’s Police beat up members of the Civil Campaign for Electoral Reform, during a peaceful sit-in at the Place de l’Étoile while the parliamentary committees were discussing the draft electoral law (09/19). The Daily Star photographer Hassan Shaaban was beaten at Le Mall center in Dbayeh (09/25) and unknown gunmen fired three shots at journalist Mohammad Al-Assi’s car in Bhamdoun (09/02).
Judicially, LBCI board chairman, Pierre Daher, filed a lawsuit against the Al-Shiraa magazine, after it published an article stating that he was with former minister Michel Samaha on his way back from Syria, in a car loaded with explosives (09/19). The authorities put an end to the broadcasting of the movie “Innocence of Muslims” on the Internet by court order (09/24) and journalist Rami Aysha was released on bail, after having been arrested, questioned, and tortured by Hezbollah members, before handing him to the military intelligence services that detained him for two weeks (09/15). Three Al- Joumhouria journalists appeared before the court following their publication of preliminary investigations with former minister Michel Samaha (09/04). The military intelligence broke into the house of Doumou’ Al-Asmar, an Al-Diyar correspondent; they questioned her on a delicate issue related to the disappearance of Syrian dissidents in Lebanon; she was released three hours later (09/09).
In Syria, violations soared on the media and cultural scene during the month of September 2012. Several Syrian journalists, correspondents and activists died while covering the violent shelling of Syrian cities and the clashes between the armed forces and the rebels. Citizen journalists Mohammad Al-Kassem was killed in Deir ez-Zor (09/04), and Nawaf Al-Hindi in Rif Dimashq (09/06), photographer and citizen journalist Ons Al-Abdallah in Damascus (09/06), Liwa’ Al-Fateh editor-in-chief, Youssef Ahmad Dib in Aleppo (09/16), citizen journalist Abdel Rahman Al-Mach’hour in Deir ez-Zor (09/17), Sham News Network photographer Abdelkarim al-Okda in Hama (09/20), journalist Ma’moun Al-Ghandour and his brother in Maadamiyat Al-Sham, Iran’s Press TV correspondent Maya Naser in Damascus (09/26), citizen journalist Abdelaziz Al-Sheikh in Deir ez-Zor (09/27), and citizen journalist Mohammad Askar in Deir ez-Zor (09/27). Also, journalist Hussein Mortada was injured by gunshots twice (09/16 and 09/26).
Filmmaker Tamer Al-Awam was killed by shrapnel in Aleppo (09/09) and producer Tamim Al-Ashkar in Rif Dimashq (09/25). However, the most atrocious violation was the execution of writer Ibrahim Al-Kharit and his two sons by the security forces in Deir ez-Zor, in front of their neighbors and family (09/27).
In Jordan, the amended Press and Publications Law was the main concern of journalists and website owners, who organized a sit-in in front of the Parliament, in protest against the entry into force of the law. However, MPs decided to ignore the protest and approved the bill (09/10). The protesters then held another sit-in in front of the royal court, to ask for the restitution of the original law and set up a permanent protest tent on Amman’s Press Street (09/11).
As for direct violations, supporters of former Prime Minister Abdel Raouf Al-Rawabdeh prevented a number of Jordanian journalists from covering a protest in front of the former leader’s residence (09/08) and Al-Arab Al-Yawm’s editor-in-chief, Nabil Ghishan, appeared before the Court of First Instance in Amman (09/12), following the publication of an article related to the costs of the incumbent Prime Minister’s visit to the Czech Republic (09/12). The web pages of Jordanian rap group Ahat were hacked (09/15).
In the Gaza Strip, the violations on the media and cultural scene were numerous in September 2012. The Hamas security forces beat up the Falasteen Al-Yawm photographer, Ismail Badeh, who was covering a fire in the Breij refugee camp. Also, an unknown person threatened the Voice of People radio station by phone, after covering the same fire and the protests against power cuts (09/25). The Ministry of Culture and Youth filed a complaint against writer Yosri Al-Ghoul following an article he published (09/24).
The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of the Hamas deposed cabinet decided to ban access to pornographic websites; access to several information websites was made impossible because of the arbitrary implementation of the decision (09/01). Also, unknown people hacked the Al-Mezan Center website for human rights (09/16).
In the West Bank, the Palestinian security services arrested journalist Walid Khaled after storming his house (09/18); they also questioned journalist Mohammad Al-Mona and extended his detention period (09/23). Also, journalist Sami Al-Assi was arrested for a period of four days (09/20) and director of the Ahrar Center for Human Rights, Fouad Al-Khafesh was arrested after giving a TV interview (09/18).
In the 1948 Territories, the violations carried out by the Israeli authorities against journalists increased in scale during the month of September 2012, particularly the direct physical aggressions. Photographer Mahmoud Alayan was hit by a rubber-coated bullet fired by a policeman (09/18) and photographer Saïd Al-Qaq was also hit by a rubber-coated bullet, during the dispersal of protesters in Bab Al-Amoud (09/14); a policeman assaulted journalist Diala Jwaihan, causing her injuries (09/08).
Also, unknown men opened fire on the offices of both the Panet website and the Panorama daily (09/19) and on the porch of Loutfi Issa’s house; Issa is the editor-in-chief of the Kasmawi Net website (09/19). Artist Sana’ Lahab received threats on her Facebook page, given her reserved position on the Syrian revolution (09/01).
The Court of Nazareth sentenced the Hurriyat association president, Mohammad Kanaaneh, to 15 months of prison, after postponing the judgment for a week (09/20) and the Baladee website owner, Imad Merhi, to seven months (09/27). Finally, British artist Peter Brooke canceled his participation to the Cameri Theater’s International Festival in Israel (09/04), in protest again the theater’s support to the Israeli settlement policy.