Publication date: Tuesday, May 3, 2011
(Toronto, May 3, 2011) Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is troubled by the disappearance of Al Jazeera journalist Dorothy Parvaz, who has not been heard from since April 29, 2011, when she arrived in Syria. She is presumed to be in the custody of the Syrian government.
Parvaz has American, Canadian and Iranian citizenship, and entered Syria under her Iranian passport. She arrived in Damascus on a Qatar Airways flight, but has not been heard from since she arrived at the airport. Al Jazeera has stated that they are concerned for her safety and are “requesting full cooperation from the Syrian authorities to determine how she was processed at the airport and what her current location is.” She has worked for Al Jazeera since 2010, and recently covered the tsunami and earthquake in Japan.
Parvaz’s family has issued a statement describing her as a determined journalist, “dedicated to the profession as a force for peace and justice in the world.” Her family believes that she is being held by government authorities in Syria. Parvaz was sent to Syria to cover the antigovernment protests. The Syrian government has not confirmed or denied whether she has been arrested.
The Iranian foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, has demanded that the government of Syria look into the matter. In a letter to the Canadian government, CJFE urged the government to add its voice and call upon Syrian authorities to cooperate fully in locating Parvaz and to ensure her safety and immediate release.
Since the current strife began in mid-March, many local journalists and bloggers have been detained, most of whom remain in custody. Journalists known to have been detained by Syrian authorities include Omar Koush (a Syrian journalist arrested at the Damascus airport on May 2), Fayez Sara (a Syrian journalist arrested on April 11), Mohamed Zaid Mistou (a Norwegian journalist of Syrian origin arrested on April 7), Doha Hassan (a photographer and journalist detained on March 26) and Kamal Sheikhou (a Syrian blogger arrested on March 15). Jordanian journalists Akram Abu Safi and Sobhie Naeem Al-Assal were detained on March 24 and released April 6. Algerian journalist Khaled Sid Mohand was arrested on April 9 but released today.
Restrictions have been placed on media organizations operating in Syria and almost all foreign media has been banned making it difficult for information to reach the outside world and even circulate within the country. It appears that the government has responded quickly and harshly to antigovernment protests, with the intention of immediately silencing the protesters by any means necessary. Reports indicate that hundreds of protestors have been killed. In response to restrictions and attacks on its staff, Al Jazeera suspended its operations in Syria indefinitely on April 27.
Read CJFE's protest letter here
For more information, contact CJFE Manager Julie Payne at (416) 515-9622 x. 226
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) boldly champions the free expression rights of journalists and media workers around the world. In Canada, we monitor, defend and promote free expression and access to information. We are active participants and builders of the global free expression community.