An international media watchdog condemned yesterday the killing by Syrian government forces of citizen journalists Ahmed Hamada, 26, and Khaled al-Bakir, 30.
“Their names will be added to the grim list of all those who have fallen with their cameras in their hand,” Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in a statement.
“We offer our heartfelt condolences to the victims’ families and we urge the international community to do what is necessary to ensure that the Annan peace plan leads to a ceasefire without delay.”
A sniper shot Hamada on June 16 while he was filming during heavy shelling of Baba Amr in the flashpoint central city of Homs, RSF said, adding he had been “trying to rescue an injured friend”.
The friend was also killed, activists said.
Video posted on YouTube by anti-regime activists appears to show what Hamada witnessed during his last moments.
The footage shows a deserted debris-filled alley and burnt, bullet-ridden walls. “This is Homs now,” says the cameraman. A sniper gunshot is heard, and the camera falls to the ground.
A shell killed Bakir on June 10 while he was covering the army’s bombardment of the town of Al Qassir, just south of Homs, according to Reporters Without Borders, which added that he also known as Abu Sliman.
“He used to film the army’s bombardments and atrocities against the civilian population, as well as the street demonstrations held every Friday in Homs,” the statement added.
Syria ranks 176th out of 179 countries worldwide in an RSF press freedom index.
More than 13,000 people have been arrested in Syria since an anti-regime uprising broke out in March last year, including “many journalists and bloggers”, according to RSF’s website.
“The authorities have strengthened their control of the means of communication, while granting visas to foreign journalists sparingly,” RSF adds.