Solidarity with Syria: Radio Fresh - A Radio of Resistance Fri, 2018-12-07 17:59

This podcast is from SOAS Radio in solidarity to Radio Fresh in Syria and to commemorate Raed Fares (R.I.P).

RADIO FRESH:      – BE SURE to keep updated with what the station and their volunteers are doing –  tell your family about what has happened to Raed and what is happening in Idlib in Syria – and if you do decide to travel in the area around Syria tune into their radio station it is 90.00fm.


Tracks: Final sequence:

First video clip: rhythmic chanting contained in the clip from Hama in

“Ya Bashar!”
Second- Some of the crowd singing (and dancing) “Janna Janna”, which you
will find in this
clip, from about 01:00 onwards:

Video clip: The uprising in Homs

The Story: 

A prominent Syrian radio journalist has been shot dead by gunmen in the
rebel-held Syrian province of Idlib.
Raed Fares, a well-known Syrian activist, was killed in the north-western
town of Kafranbel.


It was not the first time the founder of Radio Fresh, an independent radio
station broadcasting from inside opposition-held areas in the country, had
been targeted.

His activism had earned the ire of both militants and the Syrian government.

Four years ago, two gunmen for the Islamic State (IS) militant group
shattered several bones and punctured his lung in a failed attempt to
silence Fares.

More attempts on his life would follow and yet the former estate agent was
determined to carry on.

a.. A sarcastic response to Syria‘s militants
b.. Why does the battle for Idlib matter?
c.. Sense of an ending for Syria‘s war on Idlib front line
“He was very much aware that he should not expect to die quietly in his
bed,” French journalist Nicolas Henin told the BBC.

Henin, who described Fares as “one of the most impressive leaders of the
Syrian revolution”, explained that even with the constant threats, his
friend had refused to carry a weapon.

“It was nothing for himself and because his fight was just dedicated to the
people, and to the welfare of all groups, all society,” he said.

“I think he believed that that was his best protection.”

It was not just Fares the militants took issue with. The radio station –
with its music and female presenters – also angered the groups which overran
the town and surrounding area.

Four years ago, when IS had a presence in Idlib province, the station’s
office was raided by militants. In 2016, Fares was detained by the Nusra
Front, the former al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.

The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance (HTS), which currently controls most of
Idlib province, had ordered Radio Fresh to stop broadcasting music.

The station’s response was to play long sequences of other sounds, such as
tweeting birds, clucking chickens and bleating goats.
“They tried to force us to stop playing music on air,” Fares told the BBC in
2017. “So we started to play animals in the background as a kind of
sarcastic gesture against them.”

Later, the station began to introduce further defiant sounds including bongs
from London’s Big Ben clock, ticking sounds, ringing explosions and chanting
football fans.

Another group, the now-dissolved Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, once instructed the
radio station to take women off the air. Instead of complying, Fares told
the BBC’s Mike Thomson about his creative solution to get round the issue.

“We simply put their voices through a computer software programme which
makes them sound like men,” he said.

‘Let them kill me’
But, despite these battles, Fares never forgot the reason he had first gone
out on to the streets back in 2011.

Up until the end, he remained a vocal critic of President Bashar al-Assad,
the man who has clung to power through seven years of civil war.

In his final Facebook post, Fares described a protest in Kafranbel on 5
October calling for the end of Mr Assad’s reign.

“The people of Kafranbel are in Huriyah [Freedom] Square and voices are
chanting: The people want the downfall of the regime. We started this in
2011 and we are continuing on. Our loyalty to the martyrs and detainees has
increased our determination.”

In the end, he did not live to see the end of the war. Radio Fresh’s
Facebook page posted a graphic photo of Fares’ body on 23 November, along
with an image of the body of Hammoud Juneid, another activist who was shot

Dozens of people gathered for their funerals the same day as news of his
death began to filter out to the wider world, leading to an outpouring of
grief on social media from activists and international journalists.

Among the tributes was one from Fadel Abdul Ghany, founder and chairman of
the Syrian Network for Human Rights, who revealed he had asked Fares to
Fares, however, was not to be moved.

“What can they do? Kill me?” he asked. “Well let them kill me. I’m not going
to leave and leave them the country.”

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