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Abdalaziz Alhamza

Abdalaziz Alhamza (sometimes Aziz Alhamza, Abdul Aziz Al-Hamza, Abdel Aziz al-Hamza; born in Raqqa, 1991) is a Syrian journalist and activist. He is the co-founder and spokesperson for Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS), a group of citizen journalists who report on the terrorist acts committed by ISIS in Syria.[1][2][3]

Abdalaziz Alhamza
Abdalaziz Alhamza.jpg
Syrian journalist, human rights defender and activist
Born Abdalaziz Alhamza
23 July 1991
Raqqa, Syria
Nationality Flag of Syria (1932-1958; 1961-1963).svg Syria
Education University of Raqqa
Occupation Journalist
human rights defender
activist

In January 2016, the International Business Times described RBSS as “the most reliable source of information from inside Raqqa.”[4] German historian Michael Wolffsohn has compared RBSS to White Rose, the resistance organization during the Third Reich.[1]

On February 18, 2016, Alhamza was described as being 24 years old.[1] He currently lives in exile in Berlin.[5]

Contents

Early life and educationEdit

Alhamza studied biology at Raqqa University, from which he graduated in 2013.[6] While he was a student, he organized nonviolent protests against the Syrian government.[2]

CriticismEdit

Abdalaziz Alhamza has been widely criticized by Syrian and Kurdish activists. Alhamza backed ISIS while it was attacking the Kurdish town of Kobane, calling Kobane Ayn al-Islam, a name only used by ISIS. He had said “ISIS now sweeping the rest of Ayn al-Islam to purge the last remnants of communist PKK (Kurdish) forces,” in his tweet on 8 October 2014, that he deleted later. He later claimed the tweet was one of many other tweets about the battle in Kobani/Ayn Al Arab and that the tweet was taken from ISIS supporters.

RBSSEdit

Alhamza acted as a media activist and organizer of nonviolent protests during the early period of the uprising against the Assad regime, Alhamza was arrested by Syrian authorities three times in 2012. After ISIS took over Raqqa in January 2014, that group also allegedly interrogated him on multiple occasions. Under threat from both the Assad and ISIS camps, Alhamza escaped to Turkey, where he and other journalists founded RBSS. Threats from the Islamic State in Turkey caused him to flee to Germany..[6]

RBSS documents life under ISIS on social media and through photographs and videos that are smuggled abroad.[2] Alhamza, like most exiled RBSS members, now lives in Germany.[1] As of November 2015, Alhamza was working with seven RBSS members outside Raqqa to publish information gathered by twelve members living in or near Raqqa.[3] In January 2016, the International Business Times stated that 17 RBSS members were “working inside Raqqa.”[4]

“Since April 2014,” reported the Huffington Post in November 2015, RBSS members “have secretly produced the most sustained coverage of life under Islamic State control.” Alhamza told the Post, “We are fighting for our city....We don’t have weapons, but we have our pens or our website or whatever. We are fighting online.” He added: “We cover everything because our duty is for our city.” Alhamza admitted to the Post that ISIS had made it increasingly difficult for his group to do its work. “All of us,” he said, “are accepting that any one of us will be killed at anytime or anywhere.”[3]

“We won’t stop,” Alhamza told Roger Cohen in February 2016. “We have too many friends and family dead. The only way we will stop is if ISIS kills us all or we go back home.”[1]

ISIS has killed four RBSS members. One of them was Ibrahim Abdel Qader, who was beheaded on October 30, 2015, at age 22. Qader had been active in publicizing and documenting ISIS atrocities.[1]

Other activitiesEdit

Ahhamza has spoken widely about RBSS. In February 2016, he spoke to the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin.[7] He spoke at the International Journalism Festival in April 2016.[1]

He is scheduled to speak at the Oslo Freedom Forum in May 2016.[2]

Honors and awardsEdit

RBSS won the 2015 International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists. Alhamza accepted the award in New York on 25 November 2015 on behalf of the organization.[2]

Amhamza also accepted the 2015 Foreign Policy Global Thinkers Award on behalf of RBSS.[8]

Writing for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette In February 2017, Garry Kasparov and Thor Halvorssen noted Alhamaza's work as a "noble struggle against tyranny...despite the danger"[9]

Personal lifeEdit

Alhamza's younger brother drowned while trying to escape Syria.[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Cohen, Roger. "Syria's White Rose". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 November 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Bio: Abdalaziz Alhamza". Oslo Freedom Forum. 
  3. ^ a b c Calderone, Michael. "Syrian Journalists Risk Death Covering Life Under Airstrikes And ISIS Occupation". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 3 November 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Hall, John. "Isis in Syria: Daesh militants face growing resistance from citizens in Raqqa". International Business Times. Retrieved 5 November 2016. 
  5. ^ "Abdalaziz Alhamza founder Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently". International Journalism Festival. Retrieved 5 November 2016. 
  6. ^ a b "Future of War 2016" (PDF). Arizona State University. Retrieved 5 November 2016. 
  7. ^ "Youtube: Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently: the courage of reporting on life in Syria". International Journalism Festival. 
  8. ^ "Abdalaziz Alhamza founder Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently". International Jourlism Festival. Retrieved 6 November 2016. 
  9. ^ Kasparov, Gary; Halvorssen, Thor. "The rise of authoritarianism is a global catastrophe". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2 March 2017. 

External linksEdit