EJN Statement on the killing of Raed Fares and Hammoud Ali Jneed

Raed Fares, the Syrian broadcaster who was shot dead in Idlib on 23 November 2018, was a prominent activist who had survived many assassination attempts.

He was driving with Hammoud Ali Jneed, a photographer and his friend, through Kafranbel where he lived, in the north of Idlib. According to a third man, who survived the attack by hiding in the back of the van in which they were travelling, they were on their way to visit one of Raed’s relatives and noticed that a car was chasing them. When Raed took another road, the car continued to chase them. Then the car disappeared but after a few moments it re-appeared and blocked the road in front of Raed’s van. Four gunmen got out of the car and shot Raed and Hamoud who died immediately. Raed, 46, who was married with three children, studied medicine for two years before the war.

Raed was considered the engineer of the celebrated Kafranabel banners which called for a peaceful revolution in Syria. He was also the founder of Radio Fresh, an independent radio station broadcasting from inside opposition-held areas in the country. He had frequent clashes with the Syrian government and the jihadis.

Hamoud, 38, was married and a father of five.

The BBC reported that:

The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance (HTS), which currently controls most of Idlib province, had ordered Radio Fresh to stop broadcasting music.

The station’s response was to play long sequences of other sounds, such as tweeting birds, clucking chickens and bleating goats.

‘They tried to force us to stop playing music on air,’ Fares told the BBC in 2017. ‘So we started to play animals in the background as a kind of sarcastic gesture against them.’

Fares introduced a defiantly varied soundtrack over his time at the station, including bongs from London’s Big Ben clock and chanting football fans.

He was also a member of the Ethical Charter for Syrian Media (ECSM), an alliance of emerging independent media organisations with a shared commitment to free and ethical journalism. The ECSM is funded by Free Press Unlimited (FPU) and supported by the Ethical Journalism Network.

The EJN has been working with members of the charter and the FPU to provide a platform from which stronger independent, professional editorial standards can be built.

Chris Elliott, Director of the EJN, who has been working along with the EJN Programmes Consultant Aida Al-Kaisy on the Charter, said he was shocked and saddened by the killing:

“When you meet the members of the SEC and hear how many of their colleagues, friends and relatives have lost their lives in this conflict it completely changes your perspective; you come to understand how tough it is to try day in and day out to produce decent, fair and accurate journalism. It is a privilege to work with these journalists and we are deeply saddened to hear of the death of one of their fine colleagues in Raed Fares.”

The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, released a statement today deploring the killing of journalists Raed and Hamoud:

“I condemn the murder of Raed Fares and Hamoud Jneed,” said the Director-General. “Fares and Jneed were deeply committed journalists who remained dedicated to informing the public at great risk to themselves over the years. I call on the local authorities to investigate this crime and bring its perpetrators to justice, an essential step to improve the safety of journalists working in the area.”