The assassination of Syrian democratic revolutionaries Raed Fares and Hammoud al-Jneid in Kafr Nabl was very bad and sad news. Raed was an icon of the people’s uprising, especially in Kafr Nabl, from where he ran an alternative anti-regime, anti-Daesh, radio station called ‘Radio Fresh‘.
It had received US funding until five months ago when President Trump stopped the US government’s $200 million in ‘stablilization aid’ to Syrian civil society organisations and humanitarian groups, including Radio Fresh. (Which must have pleased the anti-US-interventionist pseudo-left).
I followed Raed Fares on facebook over the years. Images of his satirical cartoons and political banners went viral. They had a distinct style and could be savage in their mocking of the regime and of the west’s failure to effectively support the revolutionaries.
There’s a lot of muck on social media but also great stuff, like the photos of Raed’s cartoons and banners, usually held up by groups of men in Kafr Nabl.
I’m republishing below a letter seeking support for Radio Fresh, to allow it to keep going.
Also, I’ve been gathering images of some of Raed’s work and share them here, after the letter below. My favourite is the one linking the Syrian uprising to the bigger picture of democratic revolution beyond Syria.
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I am still reeling from the news of Raed Fares’s assassination on Friday. The heartbreak and collective grief so many Syrians and people around the world share at his loss are almost unbearable. But with every hour that passes it becomes more obvious what we need to do. We need to keep his work alive, we need to keep Radio Fresh on the air and power the work of the hundreds of journalists and activists he trained.
As a prominent civil society leader and media activist, Raed knew his life was in imminent danger, especially in his last weeks. His work was always very dangerous and he knew that both the Syrian regime and Al-Qaeda’s thugs wanted him dead. However he was determined to stay in his hometown of Kafranbel and continue his work. Fearing he might be assassinated, he gave instructions to his loyal students about how to continue what he had built. Radio Fresh would continue. The United Revolutionary Bureaus he set up would continue.
I’ve had many conversations over the last couple of days with Raed’s kids and his team. No one is giving up. Everyone wants to continue what Raed started — he made it clear that that’s what he would’ve wanted.
Raed launched a campaign to fund Radio Fresh three months before his death when international aid was cut to the project. His family and colleagues have called on us to do everything we can to continue the campaign, fund his work and keep Raed’s dream of independent radio alive.
Radio Fresh is an independent radio station in northwest Syria that resists both Assad and extremist groups. Raed considered Radio Fresh an essential service to the community – its brave reporters discussed local issues, investigated cases of injustice, and held authorities to account. They even warned the community of incoming airstrikes.
When he survived his first assassination attempt by an armed group in Idlib in January 2016, Raed posted this to Facebook:
“Freedom is an idea, and an idea cannot die
Fresh is an idea, and an idea cannot die
Ideas cannot die, people die, and we will stay here so the pain goes away
Oh my homeland, of sacrifices
I cannot thank enough those who stood in solidarity, and letters cannot do justice to my emotions, all I can say is: You are the Revolution, and the Revolution saved its children”
Let’s put our support now behind the hundreds of journalists and activists trained by Raed and let’s help continue their critical work. The extremists will not defeat his indomitable will.
Raed’s death is huge loss to humanity, to everyone everywhere who believes in freedom, democracy and equal rights for all. The only way to honour him is to continue his incredible work.
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