Syrian Free Media under attack

ISIS bombed the FSA HQ's in Raqqa which was right across the street from the ANA offices.

ISIS bombed the FSA HQ’s in Raqqa which was right across the street from the ANA offices.

On Nov. 4th the Raqqa Information Center decided to stop all of its operations, in protest of the continued harassments by ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, an Al-Qeada affiliate) and the physical lashing of one of its activists.

The statement:
When we established the revolutionary media center two years ago, our goal was to deliver the news in Raqqa and to document the crimes of the Assad regime for the whole world to see, we did what we had to do in the best way we could even though most of our managers and correspondents were detained and tortured by the hands of the Assad regime before the liberation of Raqqa.
We continued to work after the liberation, we live streamed and broadcasted the news in Raqqa and the massacres through all sorts of outlets and channels.
Today after one of our correspondents was lashed by ISIS because he was filming in (Al Sa’aa) Area – Raqqa downtown- we are accused of treason and espionage, hence we declare that we will cease all media, journalistic and documenting activities and that we will shut down the center’s page, asking god for safety to all of our brothers and sisters in Syria, and also to all of our media activist colleagues , noting that one page in particular in Raqqa carried out propaganda and a smear campaign against us accusing us of “Secularism” among many other things to force us to shut down , and now we yield to their demands.
Our families and people in Raqqa , please forgive us.
We love nothing more than to enter a bit of joy and hope to your lives , our wish was that our final statement be in the time where the tyrant Bashar al Assad fell , but circumstances are stronger than we are.
We ask god for the better of all.
“There for we announce that we are not associated with any other page carrying our name”

The flag of ISIS over a ruined city.

The flag of ISIS over a ruined city.

The Raqqa Information Center is not the only one that gets harassed by ISIS.
Also ANA New Media Association, the Syrian independent media team that formed in June 2012, had to close their radio station because of ISIS.
ANA was born out of the Syrian Revolution that began on March 6, 2011 when a bunch of school kids from a small town sprayed anti-regime graffiti on the walls that reflected the mindset of the Syrians: “As-Shaab / Yoreed / Eskaat el nizam!”: “The people / want / to topple the regime!”.

The subsequent arrest and torture of the small boys enraged the population which rose up, their numbers increasing every time the regime brutally cracked down on the peaceful demonstrators. It soon grew into a full-blown revolution organizing weekly nationwide peaceful demonstrations. The weekly, unified slogan or name of the demonstration gets democratically voted online. Past names have been “Friday for Women”, “Your Silence Is Killing Us”, “International Protection”, “The No-Fly Zone”, “Support of the Free Syrian Army”, “Governments Let Us Down, Where Are the People?”, and “Not Only with Chemical Weapons Does Assad Kill Our Children”.
A group of state journalists started working for the revolution but when the Assad regime found out many of them were arrested. So was “Mazen” who, while in prison, hooked up with some other journalists. Out of those prison contacts grew ANA in June 2012.
After six months in prison Mazen was released in error because of an administrative mistake. He immediately changed his name and was on the run for a year after which he started working for ANA under constant threat of regime forces.

“The first call of the formation of FSA”

Some of Assad’s soldiers, in the meantime, had defected from his army because they refused to kill their own people and had formed the Free Syrian Army. They liberated several areas and ANA mostly started operating in those areas under protection of the FSA. However other opposition groups such as ISIS gained ground, terrorizing the population and attacking the FSA. ANA started speaking out against them in their reporting and in their radio programs, which brought down their wrath. A couple of months ago ISIS bombed a FSA headquarters in Raqqa killing many of the FSA commanders in the process. The building was right across the street from the ANA offices. Not only had ANA lost their protectors but they gained dangerous new neighbors when ISIS took over their neighborhood.
Mazen now had both the Assad regime and ISIS looking for him and he escaped to Southern Turkey late September together with other members from ANA. Right on time because ISIS raided their offices twice last month, the last time on Oct. 15th. Broadcasting equipment has been taken away as well as laptops and a hard drive.

It is under these difficult circumstances the Syrian independent media activists have released their statement. ISIS used the reporting against them that was done by ANA as an excuse to both close the ANA Radio station and the Raqqa Information Center.

About Author

Jennifer Baker is the founder and editor of Revolution News