On 20 February Syrian journalists inside Syria and abroad established the independent Syrian Journalists Association (SJA).
The signatories to the founding declaration include the caricaturist Ali Ferzat (2011 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought), the journalist and opposition politician Fayez Sara and the Syrian-Kurdish journalist Massoud Akko.
The SJA regards itself as a symbol of freedom of opinion and of the press at a time of brutal oppression and censorship by the Syrian regime.
Markus Löning, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, issued the following statement today (21 February):
“The establishment of an independent Syrian Journalists Association underscores the unbroken courage of Syrian journalists opposed to the regime in standing up for a free and democratic Syria.
I welcome this step all the more since the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression in Damascus was attacked by Syrian security forces just last week. Its head, Mazen Darwish, winner of the Roland Berger Human Dignity Award 2011, was arrested during the raid.
I call on the Syrian Government to respect the freedom of the media, to release all those arrested without delay and to stop its acts of terror against the civilian population immediately.”