'Camera is more threatening to the regime than weapon': Syrians cover war from Turkey
Published Sunday, December 3, 2017 10:00PM EST
The Turkish city of Gaziantep is so close to Syria that its roads are dotted with signs pointing towards Aleppo: a beleaguered city that was Syria’s largest before the outbreak of civil war more than six years ago. Since then, Gaziantep has become home to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees as well as new Syrian media outlets like Nasaem Syria Radio, Radio Rozana and Liwan Radio and TV.
To help them, journalists like CTV Edmonton’s Bill Fortier are travelling to Turkey to offer training in partnership with Toronto-based NGO Journalists for Human Rights.
“Our role is a mentorship one,” Fortier explained in his dispatches from Turkey. “We are attempting to help Syrian journalists improve their broadcast news writing, empowering them to tell the human rights stories affecting their war-torn home country.”
Roughly 175 Syrian journalists currently work out of Gaziantep -- nearly half of the 400 Syrian journalists believed to be operating across Turkey. One of them is Reem Haleb of Nasaem Syria Radio.
“This city means a lot to me, because it looks a lot like my city, Aleppo,” Haleb told Fortier.
Haleb left Syria in 2012 after covering a violent protest in Aleppo. Armed with a video camera, she was attempting to capture proof that government troops were firing on unarmed civilians.
“Unfortunately, I was hit,” Haleb said. Video from the scene shows her on the ground and unresponsive as blood gushes from near her shoulder.
“I didn't know what happened during that day, until the next day,” she said.
For Haleb and hundreds of others like her, practicing journalism in Syria meant constant danger -- some 200 Syrian journalists have been killed while covering their country’s protracted civil war. That risk, however, is not stopping people like Haleb.
“We are actually working with the Syrian journalists and Syrian media professionals on building their capacity in order to give a voice to Syrian people,” Zein Almoghraby, a senior program manager with Journalists for Human Rights, said.
Providing that voice is something Haleb has committed her life to.
“A camera,” she said, “is more threatening to the regime than a weapon.”
With a report from CTV Edmonton’s Bill Fortier