Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

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Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR)
Arabic: المرصد السوري لحقوق الإنسان‎‎
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Logo.jpg
The logo of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Founded May 2006 (2006-05)
Founder Osama Suleiman (nicknamed Rami Abdulrahman)
Type NGO
Legal status Non profit
Focus Human rights activism
Location
Official language
Arabic, English
Owner Osama Suleiman
Website www.syriahr.com/en/

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (also known as SOHR; Arabic: المرصد السوري لحقوق الإنسان‎‎), founded in May 2006, is an information office documenting human rights abuses in Syria. Since 2011 it has focused on the Syrian Civil War and has been quoted by news media such as Voice of America, Reuters, BBC, CNN and National Public Radio, about daily numbers of Western-backed rebel fighters, ISIS fighters, civilians and government soldiers killed in airstrikes in Syria.[1]

The office is located in Coventry and is ran from Osama Suleiman's home,[2] (referred to as Rami Abdulrahman) a Syrian Sunni Muslim who owns a clothes shop and has a degree in Marketing. After being imprisoned three times in Syria, Abdulrahman was smuggled to the United Kingdom fearing a fourth jail term and has not returned since.[1] He describes himself as close to prominent and often jailed Syrian opposition figures such as Michel Kilo.[3]

Reporting bias[edit]

According to a The New York Times article from April 2013, he was born Osama Suleiman, and he adopted a pseudonym during his years of activism in Syria. The article described his sources on the ground in Syria as four unidentified men that help him to report and redact information from more than 230 activists on the ground. It also mentions that he has been called a tool of the Qatari government, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Central Intelligence Agency and Rifaat al-Assad, the exiled uncle of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, etc. [2] In a December 2011 interview with Reuters,[1] , Abdulrahman claimed that six of his sources had been killed. Abdulrahman has also said: “I have Alawites phoning and complaining, Sunnis phoning and complaining. I’m between two fires. But it shows I’m being neutral if both sides complain,”. He insists that he accepts no funding and runs the organization on a voluntary basis.[1] He has been accused of selective reporting, covering only violent acts of the government forces against the opposition for the first two years of its existence[4] and reporting militant anti government fighters in dead civilians tolls.[5]

Connection to secretly backed Syrian opposition groups[edit]

The news office is linked to the Movement for Justice and Development in Syria, co-founded by Anas Al-Abdah (a.k.a. al-Abdeh[6]) and his brother Malik Al-Abdah, the former currently chairing it.[7] While Anas Al-Abdah is also a signatory of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights[8] and secretary of the Damascus Declaration Support Committee in the UK,[9] his brother Malik set up the London based Syrian opposition satellite channel Barada TV.

Classified U.S. diplomatic cables, provided by the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks, show that the U.S. State Department has funneled $6 million to Barada TV between 2006 and 2011 to operate the satellite channel and finance other activities inside Syria, The Washington Post reported. The State Department refused to comment on this allegation.[10] There have been inconsistencies over the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights' leadership[8] and an admission by them of some unvalidated and controversial reports, while Wikileaks cables have revealed US State Department funding of Barada TV.[11]

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