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The Media Law: "Legalization" of Violations against Journalists in Rojava

2021-10-20
The war in Syria has resulted in more chaos than Syrian social entities can withstand. On the other hand, it compounded the disappointment of the people who sacrificed their children to liberate themselves from a tyrannical regime, just to to be afflicted by worse military organizations, let alone the emergence of three regions, governed by competing authorities. Part of that rivalry involves the internal aspect of each region, which manifests itself in the relation between the local authority and the slogans and principles of human rights that it proclaims but cannot put into practice and sometimes it seems that it does not want to implement the slogans it claims. It is also evident in its ideological relationship with those with different political orientations. However, most areas where they have pledged masses with democracy, and connected their administrative experience with the word democracy. - the glamorous notion of the democratic nation - is the region in which the experience of the Self-Administration appeared in Northeastern Syria, or rather, what remained of this region after Turkey occupied half of it between two years 2018 Afrin, 2019 Serekaniye/Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad.

One of the manifestations of these transformations is the media experience that has spread throughout the areas of the Self-Administration for various reasons. These include the need to direct public opinion on what is going on in these areas, and focus people's attention on specific issues and not other issues, may it be for purely ideological purposes, or distract the public from the real dilemma that's been going on in the region since the outbreak of the war in Syria in late 2011. The foregoing came at a different cost; the question of the professionalism of the media that has been marginalized, and the media battalion's loyalty to political direction has become more important than its core task to provide society with the necessary stimuli for deliberation of public affairs. So public affairs disappeared and was replaced by ideological partisanship.

The media experience in Northeastern Syria is one of the outcomes of the transformation of the ruling authority in the region, and it is one of the most prominent developments that have emerged in the region, in addition to the sudden appearance of CSOs that are still not in a position to cross the limits of relief. Hence, by discussing the experiment, we find that most of the controls, laws, and violations that take place in the media sector in Northeastern Syria, come from political motives linked either to the Syrian political scene or to predominant regional ideological axes, and sometimes dominate the media policy of the Administration’s institutions, and consequently, the laws issued by it. Also breaking the laws established by this administration itself.

In addition to the aforementioned, the lack of media heritage for those institutions, resulting from wartime conditions post-2011 and those conditions have nothing to do with the notion of media. Consequently, media organizations were established with no qualified human capital. It was rather mere individuals, who were suddenly confronted with a missionary mission, in an ideological tempo, fragile in discourse, premature in mission, and sometimes concerned with matters unrelated to the Syrian war which produced these institutions, provided reasons for their funding, and has consistently provided the subjects that they are expected to bring to local and international public opinion.

Prior to 2011, partisan publications were news media for the dissemination of Kurdish political affairs in Syrian Kurdish cities. These were low-quality publications which were handed out by hand between the party members. Their content would be wide-ranging, and their political discourse is instructive in guiding party members on the road to partisanship. Then came the media revolution throughout Syria and decay spread everywhere.

Thus, after 2011, quickly and uncontrolled, dozens of local media institutions were set up in the region, after international donors supported Syria's media sector, particularly local radio stations, that subsequently became one of the most important sources of information for the local population, because of constant blackouts, and after the TV has lost its old status and value.

After the emergence of the “Islamic State” organization “ISIS” and its control over large areas in Northeastern Syria in 2014, the formation of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in 2014 to fight ISIS and protect the Kurdish region, the arrival of hundreds of thousands of IDPs to the region, and the rise of the Kurdish issue, dozens of regional and international media have travelled to the area, appointed correspondents, opened offices, and dealt legally with the Self-Administration, which issued laws and legislation regulating media work.

Since 2012, and with the formation of the first forms of governance in Rojava, the local administration has begun to work in, control and impose laws in the area, through the establishment of the Free Media Union in July of 2012, which then ensured organizing the media work, granting permits and arresting offending journalists. This was subsequently transferred to the media directorates of the Self-Administration cantons in Al-Jazeera, Kobani and Raqqa, and later with the announcement of the Self-Administration of Northeastern Syria in 2018, all duties, laws and regulations have been transferred to the Media Department.

After the Self-Administration in Northeastern Syria issued the decisions and laws regulating the media reality in Northeastern Syria through the Free Media Union, it granted authorizations to hundreds of local, regional and international media institutions, and granted work permits to local, regional and international journalists to work in the region and produce media materials.
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