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HomeStatementsSNHR Condemns HTS’s Assault of Media Workers in Idlib City

SNHR Condemns HTS’s Assault of Media Workers in Idlib City

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On March 15, 2024, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) personnel physically and verbally assaulted five journalists and media workers in the Sabaa Bahrat or ‘Seven Lakes’ Square in the center of Idlib city. The assault took place while the media workers were participating in and filming a rally held in the city to mark the 13th anniversary of the start of the popular uprising in Syria.

According to intelligence obtained by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) from local activists, HTS personnel physically and verbally assaulted four journalists and media workers who work with different Arab and local news media channels and agencies, while they were covering the event in Sabaa Bahrat from a platform specifically designated for media coverage. The assailants beat the media workers and tried to forcibly drag them off the platform, injuring two of them in the process.

In another incident taking place on the same day, another Idlib-based reporter for an international media agency in Idlib governorate was assaulted and abused by pro-HTS individuals while he was covering the anti-HTS protest held at the same time. SNHR is withholding the names of the victimized media workers to spare them any potential future harassment and persecution by the group.

On March 15, 2024, Idlib governorate two main demonstrations to mark the 13th anniversary of the popular Syrian uprising. The first was an anti-regime demonstration that took place in the Sabaa Bahrat Square, while the second was the culmination of a number of anti-HTS protests in a number of towns in the rural areas of the governorate. Eventually, the protestors gathered in the Sa’a ‘Clock’ Square, forming one central demonstration.

SNHR condemns HTS’ assaults on media workers. We call for launching investigations and holding those responsible accountable, while also ensuring that victims are properly compensated materially and morally for the harm they’ve suffered. We condemn all violations against media workers, agencies and media centers, and reiterate that they must have all the protections guaranteed to them by international human rights law, particularly given their vital role in reporting on events, facts and developments wherever they may be, as well as in exposing, documenting and shedding light on violations perpetrated against civilians. SNHR stresses that freedom of media work must be respected, and media outlets must be given full access to public events and allowed to operate without obstruction. Journalists must not be persecuted and controlled depending on their allegiance, or lack thereof, to the controlling forces in any area. Finally, all “security decisions” oppressing freedom of opinion and expression must be repealed, and allegations by security authorities must not be used as a pretext for arrest and detention.

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