Syria is a Dangerous Place for Journalists – But Here’s Why We Need Them There

James Foley once said he reported from the Middle East because, "We're not close enough to it. And if reporters, if we don't try to get really close to what these guys - men, women, American [soldiers] ... are experiencing, we don't understand the world" (Photo Credit: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images).

James Foley once said he reported from the Middle East because, “We’re not close enough to it. And if reporters, if we don’t try to get really close to what these guys – men, women, American [soldiers] … are experiencing, we don’t understand the world” (Photo Credit: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images).

After three years of the Syrian uprising, it often appears like the world is tuning out. Deaths continue on a daily basis, some 9 million Syrians are listed by the U.N. as either refugees or internally displaced people, but the situation is sliding out of attention on news broadcasts, in newspaper headlines and popular attention.

This is why the beheading of reporter James Foley is so important to anyone concerned about human rights in the region. It’s important not just because, as Amnesty International says, it is “a war crime,” but because Syria right now by most standards is now the most dangerous place in the world for journalists.

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Dispatch from Ferguson: Why We Fight

Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man

Residents and faith and community leaders discuss unrest in Ferguson following the shooting death of Michael Brown during a forum held at Christ the King UCC Church on August 14, 2014. ((Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By Rachel O’Leary, Amnesty Interntional USA Acting Deputy Executive Director for Membership Mobilization

On August 9, Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year old, was shot dead by a six-year veteran of the Ferguson police force. The next day, the community organized protests condemning the actions of the police and demanding to know the name of the officer who shot and killed Michael. Those actions continue still, a week later.

The day after the shooting, I sent a text to my colleague at 3:30 AM. It read,  “We need to go to Ferguson.” Later that week, I was on a plane, leading the Amnesty International USA human rights delegation to Ferguson, Missouri.

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Amnesty International Stands with Ferguson Because All Lives Matter

Arniesha Randall protests the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown who was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets as residents and their supporters protested the shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown (Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images).

Arniesha Randall protests the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown who was shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri. Police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets as residents and their supporters protested the shooting by police of an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown (Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images).

By Muhammed Malik, Amnesty International USA Member

Today, people across the country attended vigils and solidarity actions to mourn the victims of police brutality, a problem that has gripped this nation for far too long.

A few days ago, a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri confronted Michael Brown – a teenager who was full of promise and who had his whole life ahead of him. There are conflicting reports about what happened next, but the end result was the officer shooting the unarmed Brown.

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‘Nowhere in Gaza is Safe': Fieldworker Tells of Life Under Bombs

An Israeli army Merkava tank is positioned along the border in front of buildings in the Gaza Strip on July 28, 2014. (Photo credit: David Buimovitch/AFP/Getty Images)

An Israeli army Merkava tank is positioned along the border in front of buildings in the Gaza Strip on July 28, 2014 (Photo credit: David Buimovitch/AFP/Getty Images).

Interview with a human rights fieldworker in Gaza

This morning as I brushed my teeth I could hear the familiar buzzing of a drone circling above our building. I ignored the sound. Drones circle overhead all the timeyou never know whether it’s just for surveillance or an impending missile launch.

The uncertainty makes you feel helpless. What can anyone do?

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Turkey’s Dreadful Response to the Soma Mining Disaster

Relatives of a miner mourn beside his grave following the Soma mining disaster, on May 17, 2014 in Soma, Turkey (Photo Credit: Halit Onur Sandal/Getty Images).

Relatives of a miner mourn beside his grave following the Soma mining disaster, on May 17, 2014 in Soma, Turkey (Photo Credit: Halit Onur Sandal/Getty Images).

Last week’s mining disaster in Turkey represented more than simply an industrial accident, but raised very real human rights concerns. The government’s response in the last week, however, have only heightened these concerns.

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What’s Ten Attack Helicopters Between Friends?

In 2013, Amnesty International documented the use of attack helicopters by Egyptian security forces for surveillance against crowds and protesters. Now, the Obama administration is selling 10 Apache military helicopters to the country (Photo Credit: Ken Ishii/Getty Images).

In 2013, Amnesty International documented the use of attack helicopters by Egyptian security forces for surveillance against crowds and protesters. Now, the Obama administration is selling 10 Apache military helicopters to the country (Photo Credit: Ken Ishii/Getty Images).

By Nate Smith, Chairperson – Military, Security and Police Transfers Co-Group, Amnesty International USA

When a government violates human rights on a mass scale – jailing opposition activists and journalists on trumped up charges, arresting hundreds of protesters at once, passing draconian laws to suppress public opinion – they should be held accountable. It’s not always a clear-cut or simple task for the international community, but we must identify some simple dos and don’ts.

Do: Provide support for human rights and government accountability.

Don’t: Sell advanced, highly lethal killing machines to a government engaged in a crackdown on personal freedoms.

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