Posted in the New Zealand Forum
“Outside the square”
Since: Feb 12
After all, it is the primary source all the major news agencies refer to when reporting to us about the brutal Assad and his bloody crackdowns, massacres and other human rights abuses.
So often when I'm reading terrible news stories about Syria i see the familiar 'the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says....'
So, i think it's worth having a look at, seeing as the regular news stories based on its claims are what we're basing our opinions on the Syrian situation on.
You may be surprised to learn that The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is in fact just one man. Named Rami Abdulrahman, he is based in England, where he has lived for the last 12 years. He runs the Observatory from a two bedroom house, and is an anti-Assad activist. He gets his information from a network he's created of about 200 people within Syria, who contact him via skype with their stories. But so secretive is this network that his informers don't know each other.
It must be a tough job for Rami, who claims he gets no funding from any source, and who also runs a clothing store. Added to that, pro-Assad members of his own family have disowned him for his anti-Assad activities, including his own mother.
Tougher still when he's being slandered by another anti-Assad activist by the name of Mousab Azzawi, who also runs an organisation by the name of The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. These two characters had previously been members of one united SOHR. However, while both oppose Assad, Mousab believes in calling for a NATO invasion of Syria, and Rami does not. Mousab claims Rami one day took over their syriahr.net website by changing the passwords, and then made himself chairman of the SOHR. Mousab has since started his own SOHR on syriahr.org , and both men claim the other organisation is fake.
Among other things, Mousab informs us that Rami's name is a fake one that all members of the united SOHR used. It's been revealed that he is instead one Osama Ali Suleiman. He and others also point out that Rami's information regarding Syria cannot be verified (not that this has hurt Rami terribly, he has come out on top with his unverifiable info being sought after by all the major news agencies).
In turn, Rami claims that Mousab was just a translator for the group, and was fired from the SOHR for falsely claiming to be an official spokesman for them and used that title to call for NATO intervention in Syria.
Today, the two SOHR's give different stats on the number of dead in Syria. Rami gives much higher numbers when reporting on Assad's losses. Whereas Mousab's associates have confirmed that 'reporting the deaths of the Syrian government loyalists was not in their interest'. Because of course that would not stengthen the case for NATO involvement.
So this is the clusterfuck of an organisation that is influencing our views on the Syrian situation. We have one dodgy, heavily biased, openly anti-Assad activist as the main source of info on human rights abuses in Syria. Who lives thousands of miles away from Syria in a nation that openly opposes Assad. And who is believed to meet with Foreign Secretary William Hague who wishes for the overthrow of Assad.
The UN stopped counting the deaths in Syria because that information was too difficult to obtain or verify. The SOHR's information also cannot be verified. Yet the media we are exposed to reports their info as fact.
Keep that in mind next time you see 'The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says....'
“Outside the square”
Since: Feb 12
Some important words from Patrick Cockburn of the Independent:
'Extraordinary media behaviour'
Some journalists have also raised concerns
that the world's media have relied too
heavily on just a handful of activist sources
like the Syrian Observatory.
Patrick Cockburn of the Independent
newspaper has reported for decades from
across the Middle East and says there are
dangers in this trend of trusting unverified
"It's been really rather extraordinary
behaviour by media organisations with
established reputations," he says.
"Information - interesting and important
though it is - is treated as though it was
completely objective reporting.
"I think this kind of reporting will eventually
lead to mistakes by governments, which will
respond without realising what the real
situation is on the ground."
Auckland, New Zealand
"Patrick Cockburn" Hahahahaha hilarious!
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