Syrian media activist Hadi al-Abdullah has been awarded the 2016 Reporters Without Borders Freedom prize for his “outstanding coverage in Syria”, according to the prize text.
Abdullah has documented the destruction of Aleppo by airstrikes and bombardment through social media networks like Twitter and Facebook. He is known for his rapid and accurate reporting of government airstrikes and other attacks, and typically publishes stories well before established news networks.
Abdullah’s videos show airstrikes falling on neighborhoods in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, as well as the devastation and havoc they cause. Sciences of bombed-out homes and marketplaces are common, as well as images of children killed or injured in the violence.
Abdullah reports from sites of recent attacks despite the risk of follow-up, or “double-tap” attacks which target rescuers at the scene of a bombing or bombardment.
“This prize honors the Syrian journalists who have offered their lives in order to convey the truth to the people”, Abdallah said in remarks to The Associated Press.
Dozens of journalists have died covering the war in Syria. Last June, Abdallah was injured by a bomb planted outside his home in an apparent assassination attempt. The attack killed his cameraman, Khaled al-Issa.
Since the war broke out in 2011, Abdullah has been known as both an anti-regime activist and as a daring citizen journalist. He has traveled to many of the war’s most dangerous fronts with rebel groups and has been unflinching in his support for the Syrian opposition.
“I warn that if the international community continues to fail us, the area will be on fire. If the Nusra Front and al-Qaida offer us help we will take it”, said Abdullah after the government seized the rebel stronghold of Qusair, in his home province of Homs, in 2013.
Foreign journalists rarely travel to Syria’s heavily bombarded opposition strongholds, where kidnappings have become commonplace since 2014. Abdullah is in frequent communication with outside journalists and activists to provide them with accurate information from inside rebel-held areas.
“I consider getting this prize a victory for the media of the Syrian revolution against the media of Assad and his allies”, Abdullah told AP on Tuesday.
Last year, Reporters Without Borders gave the Freedom Prize to another Syrian journalist, Zaina Erhaim. Abdullah, like Erhaim last year, will be unable to attend the prize ceremony because the Syrian government has flagged his passport with Interpol, preventing him from traveling internationally.
Reporters Without Borders, or Rapporteurs sans frontières (RSF) is an international nonprofit non-governmental organization that promotes and defends freedom of information and press freedom.