News and Opinion:
A statement by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
Thursday, January 19th, 2012
Apparently, just today, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights–aware that their story is going to come out–distributed this statement to journalists: “Dear Sir/Madam
We would like to apologise for any confusion that you may be currently experiencing with regards to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
We would like to take this opportunity to give you some background information for your benefit.
Firstly, there is NO individual by the name of Rami Abdulrahman. This is just an alias that was being used by all SOHR members and mainly by the founders of the SOHR when articles were being originally published.
There is however a gentleman based in Coventry whose primary profession is installing satellite dishes who volunteered at the SOHR in late 2010. This gentleman is called Mr. Osama Ali Suleiman and as a volunteer he contributed in publishing the Arabic language news articles on the SOHR website syriahr.net. This was the full extend of his remit and contribution, as a volunteer of this organisation. It is worth noting that Mr. Osama is unable to communicate in the English language and only had a very modest level of education in Syria.
In August 2011 the board of trustees asked Mr. Osama to cease publishing news articles onto the syriahr.net website as it was alleged that he had established links with Mr. Rifaat Al Assad (the uncle of the current Syrian President Bashar Al Assad). The very nature of the articles being published were also controversial as they were not verified by any other member of SOHR and they referred to incidents and deaths suffered by the Syrian regime security forces. The reasons as to why this raised suspicions is because the Observatory does not have any links with Syrian regime members in order to be able to state or verify any such incidents.
When Mr. Osama was asked to give up his volunteer post he retaliated by changing all the username and password details of the syriahr.netwebsite so that only he could access it and publish material and subsequently declared himself chairman. He started using the Rami Abdulrahman alias which the rest of the trustees abandoned as it was decided after the eruption of the Syrian uprising on the 15 march 2011 that, in the interest of transparency, only real names were to be used from that point on when communicating with the press.
The rest of the organisation decided that due to the swift developing nature of the Syrian uprising no time should be wasted in altercating with Mr. Osama as the website that he was controlling doesn’t ever hold any useful/recent information on Syria and that he would not be able to actually engage in any activity with the English speaking press. As a result syriahr.org was established and it gets regularly updated (in both Arabic and English) with the developments on the ground in Syria.
Ignoring Mr. Osama for this length of time appears to have been a misjudgment by the rest of the SOHR members as it appears that Mr. Osama has since sought and acquired some support from fellow friends in order to boost his claims and spoil the reputation of the SOHR. We are deeply concerned as we have been informed that Mr. Osama himself is a member of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and these friends are suspected to be affiliated with same organisation as well.
Further proof of the isolation of Mr. Osama is given by the fact that he currently has no operational team and that he acts authoritatively with no peers to verify, support or challenge his work.
You will already be aware that the SOHR is London based. This is because the majority of our members are based in London whereas Mr. Osama is solely based in Coventry. We would like to take this opportunity to confirm that the Trustees of the SOHR are:
* Mr. Fadi Al-Haddad (Co-founder of SOHR, Based in London)
* Mrs. Maya Fateh (Co-founder of the SOHR and Writer – Now in Syria)
* Dr. Lina Jamoul (Team Leader with Citizens UK in East London)
* Mr. Husam Aldin Mohammed (Chief Editor of the Alquds Newspaper in London)
* Mr. Mohammed Antabli (Businessman and Writer Based in London)
* Mr. Ghassan Ibrahim (Chairman of the Arab Global Network in London)
* Mr. Abdul Sayed Omar (Project Manager & Human Rights Activist Based in Wolverhampton and Works in London)
* Dr. Mousab Azzawi (Consultant Pathologist & Human Rights Activist Based in London)
We at the SOHR are now seeking legal advice and are preparing to take legal action against Mr. Osama whilst we remain committed to our cause of flagging human rights abuses committed in Syria to the international community and media.
Should you need any further information or clarifications please do not hesitate to contact us.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (London)”.
Originally appeared here: