Doha Centre for Media Freedom has joined international press groups and governments in condemning the ongoing targeting of journalists in Syria which has resulted in the deaths of five media workers in recent days.
Al Jazeera reporter, Mohammed Hourani was shot dead by a sniper on Friday, a day after the Belgian-born French journalist, Yves Debay was killed in Aleppo.
Al Jazeera said of Hourani: “He was known for his courage and accuracy of the news he provided from Daraa and the surrounding areas."
Hourani was shot one day after the latest foreign journalist to be killed in Syria lost his life. Debay was pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital in Turkey after being transported there by rebels, according to reports. An opposition group has posted a video on YouTube claiming that the founder of Assault magazine was killed by government forces.
The Syrian Journalists Association also reported that media activist Amjad Sioufi was killed during a bombardment of Damascus on Friday. Earlier in the week, Shehad Ahmed Asaad was killed by government forces in Homs, and media spokesman Fawaz Zu’bi was killed in Daraa.
"The President of the Republic, speaking on behalf of France, expresses his deep emotion at the death of Yves Debay, French journalist killed in Aleppo, Syria while he was reporting," the palace said.
"France condemns this heinous act and expresses its condolences, sympathy and solidarity to the family and friends of Yves Debay. France pays tribute to Yves Debay and other journalists in Syria, who are paying with their lives for their commitment to freedom of information."
Debay has been described as a “battlefield junkie” who was totally committed to covering conflicts from the point of view of the fighters involved. He had been in the Belgian army, had worked as a mercenary for the army of Rhodesia and had covered conflicts in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
Calls to end targeting journalists
Doha Centre for Media Freedom condemns in the strongest possible terms the recent spate of killings and has called on all parties involved in the ongoing conflict to respect the safety of journalists and put an end to the targeting of media workers.
The centre has compiled a death toll of journalists, citizen journalists and other media workers in Syria, which now stands at 98.
It is essential that journalists are allowed to carry out their work in Syria and report the truth of the situation on the ground. The regime has consistently targeted members of the media, and this kind of violence perpetrated against journalists cannot be tolerated.
DCMF has written a letter to the president of the newly formed National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, Moaz Al-Khatib, urging him to keep media freedom a primary concern and guarantee the safety and security of journalists in the future.
The right to be informed is an essential human right which must be defended across the world, and in killing journalists and media workers, the Syrian regime is guilty of serious human rights violations.
DCMF stands in solidarity with journalists in Syria who continue to show remarkable bravery and courage while working to convey essential information to people within and outside the country.