Gaziantep, Turkey – On 19 May, 2017, Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) received the Press Shield from “Syrian Journalists Club” in Gaziantep, for its contribution to supporting freedoms and human rights in Syria. The award ceremony took place on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day at the Novotel Hotel in Gaziantep in the presence of many Syrian and Turkish journalists and media activists.
Kamal Sheikho from SCM received the Shield and during his thank you speech stated, “While we stand together at this decent ceremony we remember all journalists, media activists, lawyers and human rights activists who have paid the price of their lives in Syria for their beliefs in journalistic values and defending human rights issues.”
Human rights activist, lawyer and journalist Mazen Darwish established the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) in 2004. SCM worked from Damascus until 16 February 2012 when most of the SCM members including the founder were arrested by Syrian Air Force Intelligence. From 2012 to 2016 SCM kept a low profile and focused its capacities on the one hand on campaigning for the release of detained colleagues and to find out what happened to missing colleagues, while working through the special consultative status at the Economic and Social Council at the United Nations that SCM obtained in 2010. This change of focus was a result of the raid on the office in February 2012 and the ensuring trial, as well as the forced disappearance of colleague human rights lawyer Khalil Maatouq on 2 October 2012 in Damascus; the death under torture of SCM member Ayham Ghazoul on 11 November 2012; the forced disappearance of colleagues human rights lawyer Razan Zeitouneh, her husband and political activist Wael Hamada, the lawyer and poet Nazem Hamadi and the pacifist political activist Samira Khalil in Douma 9 December 2013.
Sheikho added: SCM is now back working at full capacity, and since 2016 SCM has worked, coordinated and networked with Syrian media organizations, journalist unions and civil society organizations with the aim of achieving the existence of vibrant media that serves the citizens.
In addition to SCM, the Syrian Journalists Club honored each of: Syrian Journalists Association, Syrian Center for Press Freedoms and Ethical Charter for Syrian Media for the respective roles they have each played in supporting the causes and objectives of the Syrian revolution on the media level.
Moreover, the Syrian Journalists club honored three Turkish media organizations: House for Arab Media in Turkey, Media and Publication Directorate in Turkey and Turkish Journalists Association in Gaziantep.
Syrian Journalists Club is a social and professional member-based organization founded in March 2017 in order to consolidate and strengthen the professional and social ties between its members, to provide opportunities for dialogue among them at various levels, and to exchange experiences. The Syrian Journalists Club currently has around 120 members of Syrian journalists and media activists who work in Syrian, Arab, Turkish and Western media. The Club aims also to rehabilitate media workers, and to create effective mechanisms to achieve social solidarity among the members of the club.