July 12, 2012 | By Jillian York

Raising Global Awareness of the Plight of Syrian Bloggers

As a headline from Reporters Without Borders stated today, the number of citizen journalists killed or arrested in Syria rises daily.  While some, such as Razan Ghazzawi—who won Frontline Defenders' award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk—have received ample international attention for their plight, many others have gone largely ignored by the media.

There is a new campaign centered on blogger Hussein Ghrer—who was arrested along with other bloggers and colleagues, including Ghazzawi, in a raid on the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) in February and is still in prison.  The campaign, which is available in several languages, aims to draw attention to Ghrer's announcement of an indefinite hunger strike to demand his unconditional release.  Ghrer's nearly five-month long detention exceeds the maximum legal limits for incarceration without referral to court, which under Syrian law is 60 days.

Hussein Ghrer
The campaign to free blogger Hussein Ghrer

Though the campaign is focused on Ghrer, Syrian blogger Yazan Badran wrote yesterday: "Make no mistake, #FreeRazan, #FreeBassel or #FreeHussein, all mean the same thing: We want them back, we want them all."  Indeed, bloggers and activists continue to campaign for the release of Bassel Khartabil. (Though Ghazzawi remains under threat, she is currently not being held in detention.)

The target of these campaigns is to raise awareness, as several bloggers who have been detained and then released from Syrian prisons have reported their belief that the media attention they received helped them to evade torture. Activists have created several campaign images and are encouraging users on Twitter and Facebook to use them as avatars. They are also utilizing the Twitter hashtag #FreeHussein.

EFF adds our voice in support of the campaigns to free Hussein Ghrer and Bassel Khartabil.  And to the families of all the bloggers, netizens, and video activists who have lost their lives in the Syrian conflict, we offer our condolences: their voices will not be forgotten.

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