Hay’at Tahrir al Sham’s media relations division notified Orient TV reporters via WhatsApp on August 24, 2021, that it has decided to end all the Syrian opposition media channel’s operations in the ‘liberated’ areas under the group’s control in the Idlib region, in response to Orient’s supposed bias and anti-armed opposition policy. This came after the channel published or broadcast several reports and programs criticizing the practices of Hayat Tahrir al Sham and Armed Opposition factions in northwest Syria, in which they were described as ‘militias’.
SNHR notes that Hay’at Tahrir al Sham is adopting a policy of restricting media outlets and their personnel in the areas under its control, who the group accuses of posing a threat to its extremist ideology and approach which recently led many to give up their work or to be displaced.
We condemn the decision taken by Hay’at Tahrir al Sham against the ‘Orient Channel’, as well as all violations against media personnel and media centers, which seek to silence free speech and end reporting of the facts of events on the ground, and we stress the need to strengthen protection for media workers and centers; given their vital role in disseminating information, they must be allowed to work freely, and the policy of threats, persecution and the imposition of bans on media personnel must be ended. We call on HTS to respect the freedom of media work stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, allow the entry of all media outlets, stop controlling the work of journalists based on their loyalty to the controlling party, and to rescind all “security decisions” that suppress freedom of opinion and expression.