Exile. Banishment. When journalist uncovered the truth, governments had a hard time distinguishing good from evil, in relation to their temporal powers. Amidst the chaos.
In a part of the world where torture was a way of life, one human rights group said Monday’s door-to-door cleanup operation in Syria was “to isolate anti-government sympathizers and render them incapable of organizing.” President Bashar al-Assad had blamed the uprising on foreign insurgents and “armed terrorist groups” operating in Homs, Banias and Dara’a, but while his security forces were using support from the Iranian Republican Guard.
Totalitarianism was back throughout the country of Syria, if it ever left. With phone and electricity lines cut in a number of cities, with the army going door to door, hundreds of Syrians were arrested in towns and cities and in the suburbs of Damascus. The military campaign to ferociously crush the seven-week uprising escalated in the city of Deir al-Zor and dozen cities on the Mediterranean coast and in the southern regions, as tanks occupied the cities of Tafas and strategically important Homs. There are more than 744 people dead, as women and children were arrested, in a campaign similar to that used to crush the “green revolution” in Iran in 2009. With mention in the Financial Times of one report that troops fired upon their own conscripts who would not fire upon protesters.
Syria, where precise details are hard to come by. About power and might. With half a million members of the Syrian army and other security forces attempting to quell the revolt. Everywhere but especially in the poor town of Dar’a, on the the border with Jordan.
Detailing the truth. Syrian’s state-run media almost daily reports on Islamists (Salafists) along with these foreign insurgents, without addressing why the growing hostility to Bashar al-Assad’s rule, as so many people were yet to be heard from – like Dorothy Parvaz.
As part of a “process of …media reforms,” President Bashar al-Assad had Al-Jazeera journalist Dorothy Parvaz detained on April 29th as she de-boarded from a Doha, Qatar flight at the airport in Damascus. Parvaz was leaving from the home base of the al-Jazeera English-language channel, with whom she worked with her United States, Iranian and Canadian citizenship. But her Canadian or U.S. passport alone would not work, going through Syrian customs.
And now as part of a “process of …media reforms,” precise details are hard to come by. Syria cunningly deported the Canadian journalist whose last Seattle newspaper employer had quit printing news and Al Jazeera was the only one hiring. Deported to Tehran, Al Jazeera reports, based upon that Iranian passport which Dorothy Parvaz had planned to use to enter Syria, since this manner of entry did not require a visa. Deported “perhaps,” only after Syria was able to get Iran’s assent. Which must not have taken long. To join the other 33 journalist in custody in Iran, which may or may not include Shane Bauer in that number, since he was on holiday when he was detained, with his two friends.
In a statement Al Jazeera was told Ms. Parvaz was “escorted by the Iranian consul to Caspian Airlines flight 7905, heading to Tehran.” The Syrian representative in Washington had told the network she had entered Syria on an expired Iranian visa, and was thus deported to Iran. An Iran where women did not move freely.
In April, White House officials asserted that Iran, a Shia-dominated ally, likely has been advising the government of Bashar al-Assad after its four decade rule from the Shia Muslim minority Alawite sect on how to crush dissent. Bashar al-Assad — nervous about appearing to crush protesters drawn from Syria’s 75% Sunni population, getting advice on intercepting or blocking internet, mobile phone and social media communications between the protesters and the outside world. White House official had pointed to a “significant” increase in the number of Iranian personnel in Syria — only a few hundred personnel — since mid-March.
With a lessening of world support, Turkey’s recent anger at Syria’s crackdown has fed feelings of betrayal in the Syrian government. In April White House officials suggested that Iran “has been worried about losing its most important ally (Syria) in the Arab world and important conduit for weapons to Hezbollah [in Lebanon],” a diplomat told The Guardian.
The anger over the unknown. When you had no reporters on the scene. To reports about the sound of torture. With Dorothy Parvaz perhaps in prison, in a nation where one person was killed every eight hours in Iran, with the start of the new year. Which had been BEFORE all these uprisings. In Iran where the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance is responsible for restricting access in the Islamic Republic of Iran to any media of which the Islamic Regime in Tehran does not approve.
When journalist searched, in the name of a free press, for the truth. During a time when too many read the news at no cost, with no personal investment. As most tortured women in the Middle East remained in their homes, while males took to the streets. And citizens had a hard time, as Iran and Syrian governments tried to hold on to their temporal powers, finding the truth. Without a free press. Since 1992, in the information age, 861 journalists have been killed for heroically doing their jobs, with 145 journalists imprisoned, worldwide. Make that 146. With no indication yet if Shane Bauer — in Iran — is included within that number.
2015 POST SCRIPT:
The trial of Jason Rezaian, the reporter working for the Washington Post was not much different than the news stories from 2011 involving Dorothy Parvaz or even the arrest of Shane Bauer. Yes, when we endow our lives with stories. Through stories about sacrifice involving human bodies? “Mostly they are the same lives. The same stories, over and over,” wrote David Remnick, the current editor of The New Yorker, a one-time reporter for the Washington Post. Mostly these are the same stories, generation after generation. When your relationships at their foundation were so alive and you wanted others to then have the same experience. Because of a great restlessness you were born with, that seemed to move the next generation.