Journalist missing in North-East Syria for past five years
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for light to be shed on the fate of Amir Hamed, a citizen-journalist and activist who was abducted by gunmen from his home in Derbasiyah, in North-Eastern Syria exactly five years ago today and has not been seen since.
Three of the four friends who were abducted with him on 11 January 2014 were later released, but Amir Hamed is still missing, according to his brother and fellow journalist Massoud Hamed, who was awarded the RSF Press Freedom Prize in the Cyber-Freedom category in 2005.
His family believes he was abducted by members of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the armed forces of northern Syria’s provisional autonomous Kurdish government, although they denied abducting him at the time. RSF was unsuccessful in its attempt to reach the YPG spokesperson to raise this issue.
“We call for all possible light to be shed on the disappearance of Amir Hamed and all the other journalists still missing in Syria,” said Sophie Anmuth, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “All of the forces present on the ground are responsible for the fate of the persons detained in the territories they control.”
According to his brother, Amir Hamed had been filming protests against the Assad regime since 2011, and had been providing video footage and reports to various media outlets and journalists. He had also become the media representative of several Kurdish revolutionary movements. In 2011, Syrian government forces detained him for several days in connection with these various activities.
Dozens of Syrian journalists are still missing in Syria’s various regions. Most were arrested by Syrian government forces and were placed in the regime’s jails, where all trace of them was lost. The Assad government recognized last year that hundreds of missing persons died in detention, including the journalist Niraz Saied.
Others were kidnapped by armed groups and their fate is still unknown. This is the case, for example, with Razan Zaitouneh, who was probably kidnapped by Jaysh al Islam in 2013, and with Mohamed Nour Matar and a three-member Orient TV crew, who were kidnapped by Islamic State in 2013.
Syria is ranked 177th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.