Syria

Syrian demonstrators help journalists verify amateur videos

 Amateur videos have become one of the only ways to report on the protests taking place across Syria. Since the majority of foreign journalists have been expelled, it is increasingly difficult to verify the situation on the ground. Despite the life-threatening risks protesters face to film demonstrations and post them on video sharing sites such as YouTube, the Syrians have come with increasingly ingenious methods in their videos to help corroborate news reports.  

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The eye witness films a medical laboratory sign to confirm the demonstration is taking place in a village near Damascus, Syria.

 

Amateur videos have become one of the only ways to report on the protests taking place across Syria. Since the majority of foreign journalists have been expelled, it is increasingly difficult to verify the situation on the ground. Despite the life-threatening risks protesters face to film demonstrations and post them on video sharing sites such as YouTube, the Syrians have come with increasingly ingenious methods in their videos to help journalists corroborate news reports.

 

The continuous demonstrations have been met with brutality on the part of President Bashar al-Assad who is determined to crush the popular revolt. Inspired by similar protests in Egypt and Tunisia, the uprisings that began mid-March have now become the greatest challenge to his family’s four decade rule. Assad has deployed security forces and, in some cases, secret militias to put an end to the peaceful demonstrations.

 

Sites like YouTube have become increasingly important in Syria because the official media have accused the opposition of spreading lies to foreign news outlets. These videos are our only way of checking the validity of what is actually happening on the ground. Furthermore, these videos are the only non-government images coming out of Syria.

 

As a result, we have made a list of three ways to properly corroborate videos on the Internet posted by Syrian web users.

  

1. The person filming the demonstration gives the time, place and location of the protest.

 

 

Video posted on YouTube.

 

"April 29, 2011, demonstration led by the residents of the town of Al-Tall [in the southwest of Syria], calling for the release of all the prisoners arrested last Friday ".

 

 

Video posted on YouTube.

 

"April 29, 2011 at 6pm, the tanks enter the town."

 

2. The video shows signs or highly-recognisable landmarks to confirm the location of the demonstration.

 

Video posted on YouTube on April 29.

 

In the above film, a medical laboratory sign confirms the demonstration is taking place in a village near Damascus, Syria. 

 

3. The demonstrator films the identity cards of the people whom he interviews as a way to identify witnesses’ accounts.

 

Video posted on YouTube on April 16.

 

Here, the eyewitness recording the protest with his camera phone asks one of the demonstrators to give his name, place of birth and show his identity card. After he asks him to confirm where the protest is taking place. In the video below, the demonstrator says the protest is in the village if Baida near the besieged city of Banias which is close to the Lebanese border.

 

"They know that, without the support of the international community, they cannot rid Syria of Bashar al-Assad".

Our Observer, 'Revolt for Your Life', is an exiled Syrian activist. He created the  All4OurCountry channel on YouTube to help other Syrians disseminate their amateur videos.

 

By filming what is happening in Syria, the young supporters of the revolution face the risk of being arrested and tortured. Their mission is clear: they want to help foreign media cover these events. They know that, without the support of the international community, they cannot rid Syria of Bashar al-Assad.

 

I believe it is essential that a permanent record exists of the Baath party’s brutality. These videos, with precise dates and locations, are clear proof of crimes against humanity for which the Syrian regime should be brought to justice".