The deceased Syrian journalist Raed al-Fares has won the Courage in Journalism Award given out by the Legatum Institute in the British capital London, just one day after the fall of Kafranbel to the Syrian regime, a town which had major symbolic value for the Syrian revolution.
The organization said on its Twitter account on Wednesday that Fares had won the award for the bravery that he showed while working as a journalist in Syria, out of 55 nominees who were killed or lost their lives between October 2018 and October 2019, including the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed by a Saudi security team in his country’s consulate in Istanbul. His body has not been found yet.
The award was received by Fares’s oldest son, Mahmoud, who told the audience his father’s story. The BBC global affairs correspondent, Mike Thomson, also delivered a speech about Fares in which he spoke about knowing him during his time covering the war in Syria and about his most prominent accomplishments.
Fares was assassinated on Oct. 23, 2018 with his activist friend Hammoud Jneid by unknown attackers widely thought to be affiliated with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, the jihadist group, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights. He had been the director of the local opposition Fresh Radio station, which not only criticized the Syrian regime but also the extremists groups such as Tahrir al-Sham, which tried to close the radio station multiple times on the pretext that there were women working there.
Fares, born in 1972, was director of the Union of Revolutionary Bureaus in Syria, but he was known mostly as a media figure responsible for the famous Kafranbel banners from 2011. Fares was known for a creative and peaceful style of responding to the lies of the Syrian regime media, specifically the semi-official Al-Dunya channel. He became a regular figure at weekly protests against the Assad regime and to this day remains a symbol of the peaceful revolution whom the regime and its allies have always tried to demonize.
Before he was killed, Fares was subject to an assassination attempt in 2014, which he survived after undergoing sensitive surgery on his chest. The attempt coincided with threats by Jabhat al-Nusra, which raided Radio Fresh repeatedly in the first years of the revolution. Nusra—the old name for Tahrir al-Sham—arrested Fares twice, the first time in 2014 with the photographer Hamoud Jneid at a checkpoint in Maarat Nu’man, and then with the activist Hadi al-Abdullah in 2016 from the radio station’s headquarters in Kafranbel.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.