Paris – Syrian Network for Human Rights:
Wednesday, November 23, 2022, marks the fourth anniversary of the assassination of the activist and prominent Syrian revolutionary figure Raed al-Fares who was assassinated at the hands of masked gunmen in an area under the control of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), who shot at the car he and his colleague Hamoud Jneed were travelling in on Friday November 23, 2018. This was not the first attempt on Raed’s life; in fact, he himself had told us that he survived an assassination attempt in 2014, not to mention many assaults and arrests by HTS.
Born in 1972 in the city of Kafranbel in the southern suburbs of Idlib governorate, Raed, along with other activists, created and wrote anti-regime slogans on the walls in the early stages of the popular uprising. Raed also helped organize the first demonstration in his home city of Kafranbel, which was held after the Friday Prayer on April 1, 2011, making him a wanted man by the Syrian regime’s security agencies from the very first days of the uprising, with his house raided on multiple times.
Raed was among those who pioneered the idea of writing the date and the name of the city where the demonstration was taking place on every banner in the demonstration. Arguably more than anything, he was known for the protest banners’ iconic artwork and incisive slogans. Indeed, Raed and the artist Ahmad Jalal pioneered the caricatures of Kafranbel that became a trademark of the city’s demonstrations. The wonderful creativity, dedication and commitment sown into these caricatures made the Syrian people avidly await every Friday to see each new caricature. Soon enough, these caricatures became a revolutionary custom and symbol, not only for Kafranbel, but for the entire Syrian popular uprising for freedom.
In 2012, Raed founded Radio Fresh which was the first radio station to broadcastin areas that broke free of the regime’s control. He later launched a website for the radio channel. Subsequently, he co-founded the Union of the Revolutionary Bureaus (URB), an umbrella group housing many media and service enterprises, including Radio Fresh, al-Mantara Magazine, Maraya Center for Women, Children’s Office, Women’s Office, Labor Office, and Aish Campaign, among others.
Naturally, Raed al-Fares’s activism, the mark he left on many civil and awareness projects, his calls for freedom and democracy, and his repeated condemnations of tyranny and of the violations and practices of extremist groups, made him a target for all those opposing freedom. He was arrested and threatened on numerous occasions.
Raed al-Fares refused to flee his hometown and leave it up for grabs for extremist groups. He faced worsening pressure and threats before the final attack that claimed his life, especially after HTS arrested the lawyer Yaser al-Salim on Sunday, September 21, 2018. Despite all of these dangers, Raed decided to stay even if doing so would ultimately cost him his life.