Weekly Media Digest (July 7)

Curated Reading List

SyriaUntold brings you a new edition of our digest. We want to share with you the features, investigative pieces and long-form essays that we read and thought would interest you.

07 July 2019

(Milad al-Amin, Kafan, 2012)

An independent media platform advancing critical perspectives on Syria and Syrians.

The Syrian Regime Is Pursuing Its Opponents Through the Use of a Loophole – Private Prosecution (Syndication Bureau)

Haid Haid examines the tactics the Syrian regime is resorting to in prosecuting former opposition figures in the areas the opposition surrendered back to the regime. The reconciliation agreements they signed with the regime stipulate that no opposition activist is to be arrested for taking part in any anti-regime activity. However, the regime found a loophole and is arresting hundreds on the pretext of legal action being initiated against them by other individuals.

"It is extremely difficult to get a clear picture of the scale of this judicial abuse, due to the systematic lack of data and the secretive circumstances under which some arrests have taken place – when people are spirited away at checkpoints, for example. Civilians in former opposition areas first became concerned in September last year when hundreds of people in Daraa, in northern Homs province, and in rural Damascus were arrested on the pretext of legal action being initiated against them by other individuals. In December, reports from sources in Qudsaya, a town west of Damascus, claimed that the regime had a list of 50 local men wanted on charges ranging from property disputes to murder. Orders also went out last October to arrest 30 people in Sheikh Miskin and 100 in Rastan, on the same grounds."

Iran Demands UK Release Syria-bound Oil Tanker Held in Gibraltar (Al Jazeera)

The United Kingdom stopped an oil tanker in Gibraltar, and said it is carrying crude oil to Syria, a move that is a breach of the EU sanctions imposed on the Syrian government. This seizure caused diplomatic tension between Iran and the UK.

"Spain was looking into the seizure of the ship and how it may affect Spanish sovereignty, as it appears to have happened in Spanish waters, Borrell said. Spain does not recognise the waters around Gibraltar as British.
The ship's seizure comes at a sensitive time as the EU mulls over how to respond to Iran announcing it will go beyond the maximum uranium enrichment level it agreed to in a landmark 2015 nuclear deal."

Civil society in Syria: A hostage of fear, bureaucracy and politics (Syria Direct)

Ammar Hamou investigates the scarcity of humanitarian aid provided in regime-controlled areas in Syria. Hamou argues there are two reasons behind that. First, many international organizations pulled out after the regime regained control of Daraa and Eastern Ghouta, quoting fears that aid will be used to strengthen the regime's political control. Second, those who stayed face many challenges and fear persecution. The Syrian government insists on centralizing aid through the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), and demands that any humanitarian organization acquires security permissions before it is allowed to function.

“Shortages in goods and services have grown increasingly acute in recent months as the international community shuttered many of its aid projects in previously opposition-controlled territories and continues to shy away from engaging with Damascus.International donors are struggling to find ways to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Syria without cooperating with the Assad government.” 

Lebanon: Syrian Refugee Shelters Demolished (Human Rights Watch)

Human Rights Watch report details how the Lebanese armed forces continue demolishing Syrian refugees' shelters, alleging that these shelters did not comply with housing rules and regulations. HRW condemns this move and says it is a pressure tactic to force Syrian refugees to leave Lebanon and return home.

"The order applies to 3,500 to 3,600 refugee families in Arsal, about half of the shelters in Arsal, according to the head of the Arsal municipality, Bassel al-Hujeiri. Some estimates say that up to 15,000 children in Arsal will be affected. It also applies to Syrian refugees living in hard shelters built on agricultural lands nationwide, but with variations in demolition and material specifications. The law is currently also being enforced in the Bekaa Valley, Baalbek, and Hermel."

Dreams in a UN tent (Al-Jumhuriya)

Warda al-Yassin writes about her dream and the dreams of five women whom she shared a tent with when they all were fleeing the Russian bombardment of their towns in southern Syria.

"In the camps, it becomes easier to tell secrets and hold personal conversations than in other circumstances. Many of the camp’s women likely knew Ghayda was still a virgin despite being married. This was why they didn’t chastise her for going around in pink high-heels, dressing up elegantly with bright red lipstick when sitting on a rock or under the shade of a tree with her husband Mahmoud, the pair of them engulfed in a love still unconsummated."

Why Most Syrian Refugees Want to Stay in Germany (Spiegel Online)   

After the defeat of the Islamic State in Syria, the prevailing idea in Germany is that the war has ended in most parts of Syria. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians living in Germany today have humanitarian protection residency. They were not granted refugee status, and are faced with the uncertainty of their future in the country, many fearing a forced return to Syria.

"Some of the rulings currently being issued by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) seem almost cynical. One letter to a Syrian asylum-seeker who came to Germany in 2019, for example, stated that although "isolated attacks are still taking place that can also lead to civilian deaths," it no longer rises to the level of "a blanket threat to all civilians living there." The agency ruled the applicant could not be deported, but it did not grant refugee status. The lesser status translates to fewer rights and does not permit the person receiving it to bring family members to Germany."

This work is under a Creative Commons license. Attribution: Non commercial - ShareAlike 4.0. International license

Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad