The uprising in Syria is a subject I wish I could avoid. It is a topic that makes my blood boil, for I still cannot understand how it is humanly possible for the leader of a nation to crack down on his people in such a brutal way. The dangerous political atmosphere and vile crimes committed in the nation created a complete media void. Since then, Syrian citizen journalists have stepped in, risking their lives to bring news of the oppressive government’s violence against the population to a global audience.
Word came this past week that one of these civilian journalists was tortured to death by the Syrian government. At just 22 years old, Fatima Saad was apprehended by Bashar Al Assad’s security forces from her house in Latakia last June. According to the Syrian League for the Defense of Human Rights, Fatima died at a Damascus branch of the General Security Directorate, which is part of the Syrian intelligence service.
Fatima was a part of a network of civilian journalists, as many others did, she adopted a different name, and was known among her circle as Farah El Rayes. As a qualified nurse, she was known in her poverty stricken suburb for her kindness and generosity. When Assad’s forces initiated the crackdown, she volunteered to teach other residents in the city basic first aid training. Her help was essential especially after regime forces destroyed the community’s only public clinic.
Saad was first arrested with her father and brother. Several of their belongings were confiscated, including Fatima’s camera. Found on the camera was a video and several images showing several of her friends carrying the Free Syrian Army’s flag and chanting against the regime.
Fatima was subjected to physical and psychological torture by the Syrian regime in an attempt to make her name those in her photos. Her death brings the number of Syrians killed specifically under torture of the regime to 1,125.
This week we must all pay tribute to Fatima. She has become a symbol of the fight that the Syrian civilian journalists continue to lead every day as they risk their lives to share their stories with the world. Her bravery and generosity will forever be remembered, and it is efforts like hers that will help the Syrian people succeed in their pursuit of freedom…