A professional journalist who worked for the official news agency Sana, Fuad Abdel Aziz found himself being used to endorse the government’s lies about the protests in Deraa, which the army invaded at the end of April 2011 after it became the first city to rise up against the Assad regime.Suspected from the outset of sympathizing with the revolutionary movement, he describes the measures taken within the news agency to monitor the views of its journalists and the pressure put on those who question the regime’s disinformation methods.
A Syrian blogger jailed in Saudi Arabia for launching a petition for the release of Saudi political prisoners, Rafaat Al-Ghanem was handed back to the Syrian intelligence services by the Saudi authorities after the start of the popular uprising in Syria.
Released from prison in Syria in July 2011, he joined young Syrian activists in promoting a peaceful revolution but this prompted more harassment from the intelligence services. Like thousands of other Syrians, he ended up fleeing across the border into Jordan.
In Jordan, he linked up with Radio El Balad, a Jordanian radio station that launched a programme hosted by Syrian journalists. His account describes his experiences, including the sensitive issue of the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan and the difficulties that journalists encounter when they try to cover conditions inside the camps.
An employee of Mogadishu-based Radio Shabelle Network, Ahmednor Farah fled Somalia in 2009 to escape imminent danger and, as the representative of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, devoted his energy to helping fellow Somali journalists who had been forced to flee abroad. In 2013, he was resettled to the United States.
He describes the terrible situation for media freedom in Somalia, one of the world’s deadliest countries for media personnel, and the difficulties that Somali journalists encounter when they flee across the border into Kenya.
For ten years, Amanuel Ghirmay worked as a journalist for the information ministry in Eritrea, which is ranked last in the Reporters Without Borders media freedom index and is Africa’s biggest prison for media personnel. He had no choice but to work for the government, relaying its propaganda, because Eritrea’s privately-owned independent media were all “suspended” a decade ago.
He finally risked his life to flee abroad because he could no longer stand working for a cruel and tyrannical regime and because he feared that he would suffer the same fate as many other journalists who are held incommunicado in Eritrea’s network of detention centres.
And so this well-known and respected journalist became just one more anonymous Eritrean refugee experiencing the harsh conditions of the refugee camps in Ethiopia. He now lives in France, working for the Eritrean exile radio station Radio Erena. His story reflects the suffering of Eritrean journalists and refugees.
One of the few Sinhalese journalists in Sri Lanka to cover human rights violations against the country’s Tamil minority, Krishan Rajapakshe helped create the news website Yukthiya (www.yukthiya.com) in 2011 with the aim of making fellow Sinhalese speakers more aware of the Tamil community’s plight.
The only journalist contributing to the site from Sri Lanka, he took a lot of risks to do investigative reporting and finally fled abroad in the autumn of 2012 after repeated threats from radical elements and pro-government agents. He talks about the risks that journalists run in Sri Lanka when they dare to tackle sensitive subjects.
After being fired from various media for being too outspoken, M. fled her country in 2011 and went to Malaysia, where she continued her journalistic activities and, in particular, continued to criticize the Revolutionary Guards. This has resulted in her receiving threats from the Iranian government and its thugs in Malaysia, while the obliging Malaysian government looks the other way. She now lives in fear of being deported back to Iran and has gone into hiding.