Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
|Arabic: المرصد السوري لحقوق الإنسان|
The logo of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
|Founder||Osama Suleiman (Rami Abdulrahman)|
|Legal status||Non profit|
|Focus||Human rights activism|
|Owner||Osama Suleiman (Rami Abdulrahman)|
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (also known as SOHR; Arabic: المرصد السوري لحقوق الإنسان), founded in May 2006, is a UK-based information office that has been documenting human rights abuses in Syria; it has focused since 2011 on the Syrian Civil War. It is frequently quoted by major Western news media, such as Voice of America, Reuters, BBC, CNN and National Public Radio, since the beginning of the uprising about daily numbers of deaths from all sides in the conflict and civilians killed in airstrikes in Syria.
The organisation is run by one man, Rami Abdulrahman (sometimes referred to as Rami Abdul Rahman), from his home in Coventry. He is a Syrian Sunni Muslim who owns a clothes shop. Born Osama Suleiman, he adopted a pseudonym during his years of activism in Syria, and has used it publicly ever since. After being imprisoned three times in Syria, Abdulrahman fled to the United Kingdom fearing a fourth jail term and has not returned.
In a December 2011 interview with Reuters, Abdulrahman said the observatory has a network of more than 200 people and that six of his sources had been killed. In 2012, Süddeutsche Zeitung described the organization as a one-man-operation with a single permanent worker, Rami Abdulrahman. In April 2013, the New York Times described him as being on the phone all day every day with contacts in Syria, relying on four men inside the country who collate information from more than 230 activists while cross-checking all information with sources himself.
Praise and criticism
The United Nations, newspapers, and nongovernmental organisations say that SOHR is an accurate source. "Generally, the information on the killings of civilians is very good, definitely one of the best, including the details on the conditions in which people were supposedly killed," said Neil Sammonds, a researcher for Amnesty International.
SOHR has been accused of selective reporting, with AsiaNews saying that they covered only violent acts of the government forces against the opposition for the first two years of its existence. SOHR has also been accused of reporting militant anti-government fighters among dead civilians, and has been described as being "pro-opposition" and anti-Assad. It has been criticised for refusing to share its raw data or methodology.
- "26 civilians killed in Syria on Friday: Observatory". The Asian Age. 18 February 2012. Archived from the original on 11 June 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
- "Syrian Observatory for Human Rights". Syriahr.com. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
- Abbas, Mohammed; Golovnina, Maria (editing) (8 December 2011). "Coventry – an unlikely home to prominent Syria activist". Reuters. Archived from the original on 11 June 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
- "A Very Busy Man Behind the Syrian Civil War's Casualty Count". New York Times. 9 April 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- London, Jonas Schaible (1 November 2012). "Syrische Beobachtungsstelle für Menschenrechte: Ominöse Protokollanten des Todes". Retrieved 24 November 2016 – via Sueddeutsche.de.
- "Massacres by Islamic extremists bolster Bashar al-Assad". AsiaNews. 17 June 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- "Syria Contextualized: The Numbers Game - Middle East Policy Council". Retrieved 24 November 2016.
- "Report: Almost 6,000 Dead in Syria During Geneva Talks". TIME Magazine. 17 February 2014.
- "Syrian civil war: Jabhat al-Nusra's massacre of Druze villagers shows they're just as nasty as Isis". Independent. 13 June 2015.
- "Syrian opposition group accuses rebel unit of torture". Reuters. 9 April 2013.
- "Syrian rebels 'killed in army ambush near Damascus'". BBC. 7 August 2013.
- Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – website