Journalists associations

At the beginning of 2012, a group of Syrian writers decided to break up the monopoly of the state over unions and associations. They founded the Syrian Writers League, borrowing the name of their organisation from the first Syrian literary gathering, which was originally established in the 1950s. This was then replaced by the Arab Writers’ Union, established in Damascus in 1969, a semi-official body, which operated to keep all writing within the purview of the government and the ruling Baath Party. Its role as enforcer of Syrian government wishes was demonstrated in 1995 when the union passed a resolution to expel two members because they “openly advocated normalisation with the Zionist entity.” One of the expelled members was the renowned Paris-based Syrian poet known as Adonis. The Union has been based, since 2015, in Abu Dhabi, after it was moved from Damascus to Cairo in 2008.

The two most relevant associations of Kurdish journalists in Syria are the League of Kurdish Writers and Journalists (HNRKS) and the General Union of Kurdish Writers and Journalists (YNRKS). They have issued several statements condemning the violations against journalists and freedom of press in the Kurdish-controlled area in the north of the country and published the names of writers and reporters detained in the prisons of PYD.

The increasing number of collaborations and the coordination between different people in the emerging media field have all contributed to develop Syrian independent journalism. All these initiatives not only help enhance the professional level but, even more importantly, they might pave the way to define the future values of the profession in the country and avoid problems, such as plagiarism or unfair competition. For example, the former ABRAJ Network was founded in November 2014 by six radios (which later became five) with the aim of supporting independent media in Syria and not only its members. The organisation helped to establish shared policies concerning salaries (creating a common front towards the donors to reduce unfair competition), turnover management, technical and content exchanges. Moreover, in June 2014 a Syrian Network for Print Media made by seven print publications (originally five) was established and mainly financed by International Media Support and the French operator in media cooperation (CFI). The main activity of the network is to organise a unified printing and distribution network, thereby cutting costs.