23 July 1991
Human Rights Defender
Abdalaziz Alhamza (Arabic: عبدالعزيز الحمزة) (sometimes Aziz Alhamza, Abdul Aziz Al-Hamza, Abdel Aziz al-Hamza; born in Raqqa, 1991),an award-winning Syrian journalist, human rights defender activist and IT trainer. Alhamza is an International Security Program fellow at New America (organization), he is also a fellow and Next Generation Leader at the McCain Institute., He is the founder and spokesperson of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) which is a nonpartisan, independent organization that exposes the atrocities committed by ISIS & other groups in Syria as well as the Syrian government. Alhamza started non-volatile protests and demonstrations against the Syrian government in 2011 and was arrested by the government three times in 2012. The Islamic State Group (ISIS) interrogated him more than one time about his activism. After ISIS took control of his hometown, Raqqa in January 2014, he escaped to Turkey and started Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) with his friends to show the reality of life in Raqqa and ISIS. In 2015, Alhamza received CPJ International Press Freedom Awards by the Committee to Protect Journalists and was named a Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy. In 2016, he has awarded the Ischia International Journalism Award , Civil Courage Prize and other awards on behalf of RBSS. Alhamza was featured in “City of Ghosts” a documentary that followed the Journey of Alhamza and his colleagues. Alhamza graduated with a degree in biochemistry from the faculty of science in Raqqa which is part of Al-Furat University. . He is the co-founder and spokesperson for Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) which is a non-partisan, independent organization that claims to expose the atrocities committed by the Syrian government or ISIS in Syria.
In January 2016, the International Business Times described RBSS as “the most reliable source of information from inside Raqqa.” German historian Michael Wolffsohn has compared RBSS to White Rose, the resistance organization during the Third Reich.
Alhamza wrote many articles about Syria and Raqqa, especially focusing on the Islamic State. One of his most prominent articles appeared in The New York Times, "Bombs May Not Defeat ISIS (but Maybe the Internet Will)".
Early life and education
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.
RBSS documents life under ISIS on social media and through photographs and videos that are smuggled abroad. Alhamza, like most exiled RBSS members, now lives in Germany. 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. In January 2016, the International Business Times stated that 17 RBSS members were “working inside Raqqa.”
“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.”
Honors and awards
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.
Amhamza also accepted the 2015 Foreign Policy Global Thinkers Award on behalf of RBSS.
Film City of Ghosts
Alhamza is featured in City of Ghosts, directed, produced, and filmed by Academy Award–nominated and Emmy–winning filmmaker Matthew Heineman. City Of Ghosts was listed as one of 15 out of 170 submitted films included in the Oscar Documentary Feature shortlist for the 2018 awards.
City of Ghosts follows the journey of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently – a handful of anonymous activists who banded together after their homeland was taken over by ISIS in 2014. With deeply personal access, the film follows them as they face the realities of life undercover, on the run, and in exile all whilst risking their lives.
- "Fellow, International Security Program". New America.
- "Next Generation Leader". The McCain Institute.
- Cohen, Roger. "Syria's White Rose". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
- "Bio: Abdalaziz Alhamza". Oslo Freedom Forum.
- Calderone, Michael. "Syrian Journalists Risk Death Covering Life Under Airstrikes And ISIS Occupation". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
- Hall, John. "Isis in Syria: Daesh militants face growing resistance from citizens in Raqqa". International Business Times. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- "Abdalaziz Alhamza founder Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently". International Journalism Festival. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- "Bombs May Not Defeat ISIS". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
- "'Hit Assad hard, put smiles on the faces of all who lost children': A Syrian activist's message for Trump". Fox News. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
- "Future of War 2016" (PDF). Arizona State University. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
- "Youtube: Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently: the courage of reporting on life in Syria". International Journalism Festival.
- "Abdalaziz Alhamza founder Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently". International Journalism Festival. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
- Kasparov, Gary; Halvorssen, Thor. "The rise of authoritarianism is a global catastrophe". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
- "15 DOCUMENTARY FEATURES ADVANCE IN 2017 OSCAR® RACE". The Academy Award " Oscar. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
- "Abdelaziz Alhamza Biography in IMDb". IMDb. Retrieved 7 July 2017.