TORONTO, May 3 /CNW/ - 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.
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.
SOURCE Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
For further information:
CJFE Manager Julie Payne at (416) 515-9622 x. 226