RSF: Kurdish citizen journalist kidnapped
and murdered in Syria
March 29, 2012
PARIS,— Reporters Without Borders has
learned with dismay of the murder two days ago of
the Kurdish citizen journalist Jawan Mohammed Qatna.
“The organization strongly condemns this murder.
Activists and journalists who strive to keep the
international community informed about the
demonstrations across the country and the abuses by
the authorities are the main victims of the violence
of the past year,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“Kidnapping, torture and murder have become everyday
practices, particularly by forces linked to the
government. The UN special representative for Syria,
Kofi Annan, must acknowledge these abuses in his
plan to end the violence and conduct an
investigation as soon as he is able.”
Qatna, an amateur photographer, was abducted by four
hooded men from his home in the town of Derbassiyeh,
north of the eastern city of Al-Hassakeh, at 8 pm
two days ago. His body, which showed signs of
torture, was found three hours later in a nearby
village. The brutality of his treatment can be seen
in a video posted on YouTube.
Uncertainty surrounds the identities of his killers.
Some sources blame the pro-Assad Shabiha militia
while others are still unsure. Whoever plotted and
carried out his murder, the press freedom
organization condemns this killing and hopes
investigators will find the perpetrators who will
then be tried and punished.
Qatna, 22, was active in the Kurdish youth movement
and acted as a photographer for the Free Derbassiyeh
Coordination Committee. He regularly covered
demonstrations in the mainly Kurdish region and
supplied photographs to various media organizations.
Reporters Without Borders expresses its sincere
condolences to his family and friends.
He was buried yesterday in his birthplace of Tel
Kadish near Derbassiyeh. Several citizen journalists
and four professional journalists have been killed
since the start of the year, including two
Frenchmen, reporter Gilles Jacquier and photographer
Rémi Ochlik, as well as American war correspondent
Marie Colvin and Syrian journalist Shoukri Ahmed
Ratib Abu Bourghoul.
Citizens and activists have taken over the baton
from professional journalists unable to enter Syria
or who are prevented from carrying out their work.
They are playing an essential role in gathering and
distributing information. Reporters Without Borders
has previously reported the arrest of many of them.
The lawyer and blogger Rudy Othman was among the new
detainees. He was arrested on Hamra Street in
Damascus on 15 March for the third time since the
start of the protests. The blogger and activist
Jamal Al-Omas was arrested at the Lebanese border
the same day as he returned from Beirut.
The blogger Mohamed Abu Hajar was arrested in the
Mediterranean-coast city of Tartus on 14 March
because of what he has been writing in his blog “Mazaj.”
Ahmed Salal, a journalist who was arrested on 12
February, was meanwhile released yesterday.
As already reported, the 12 young people who were
arrested on the evening of 7 March in the restaurant
Niniar, in the Damascus neighbourhood of Bab Sharqi,
included Yara Michael Shamas, 20, an information
technology specialist who is the daughter of Michael
Shamas, a human rights lawyer active on Facebook,
a blogger known by the name of ’Milan’, who had been
released on 29 December after two and a half months
in detention, and Etab Labbad, a 20-year-old
journalism student who has worked with various
newspapers and websites such as Kassioun and Baladna.
The authorities are still holding eight of the 16
people who were arrested during a 16 February raid
on the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of
Expression. They are Mazen Darwish (the head of the
centre), Hussein Gharir, Hani Zitani, Joan Fersso,
Bassam Al-Ahmed, Mansour Al-Omari, Abdel Rahman
Hamada and Ayham Ghazzoul. Reporters Without Borders
reiterates its call for their release. The latest
member of the original 16 to be freed was Shady
Yazbek, on 12 March.
There is still no news of two Turkish journalists –
Adem Özköse, a reporter for the magazine Gerçek
Hayat and the daily Milat, and cameraman Hamit
Coşkun – who were abducted by Shabiha militiamen
near the northwestern city of Idlib on 10 March and
then handed over to members of the Syrian
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