Middle East

Excuse me BBC Arabic, it is not free press, it is disinformation

The Syrian diaspora in the United Kingdom were shocked and outraged by BBC Arabic’s decision to allow special adviser to Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad air time to publicly deliver regime propaganda freely and without challenging her.

Luna Al-Shibl was allowed on the broadcaster’s station even though she was included on the UK sanction list in 2019, she openly supports the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and has said that Syria is sending troops to Ukraine in support of Russia and as a means of thanks to Moscow which helped the Syrian regime during its war against pro-democracy activists. Russia’s intervention in Syria has reinforced Al-Assad’s regime which is killing, torturing, detaining and displacing millions of innocent Syrian civilians who revolted against it. Moscow saved Al-Assad from being ousted.

The world has witnessed shocking images of human rights violations and war crimes amounting to genocide committed by Russian troops in Ukraine, no one can forget the upsetting scene of maternity hospital targeted in the city of Mariupol and the killing of women in labour wards, reminding us of similar images released from Syria showing destroyed hospitals and schools deliberately targeted by Russian fighter jets, many reports showed similar atrocities committed in Mariupol and Aleppo. Russian troops in Ukraine are blocking humanitarian corridors for evacuating trapped citizens, even targeting them during evacuation, blocking access for humanitarian supplies to towns under siege, raising huge concern about humanitarian catastrophe in Russian controlled areas in Ukraine.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented several cases of Russian military forces committing laws-of-war violations against civilians in occupied areas of the Chernihiv, Kharkiv and the Kyiv regions of Ukraine, summary executions and other grave abuses by Russian forces, use of banned weapons such as cluster munitions and anti-personnel landmines, soldiers were also implicated in looting civilian property, including food, clothing and firewood, those who carried out these abuses are responsible for war crimes.

READ: UK repatriates two children from Syria camps after handover by SDF

Russian troops recently withdrew from Bucha, a town 37 kilometres northwest of Kyiv, the amount of destruction in the city was beyond imagination, hundreds of its residents were killed by the Russian army, civilian corpses were found with bound hands, gunshot wounds to the head and showing signs of torture, dead bodies strewn in the streets, many such deaths may be the result of war crimes, HRW reported. It is too early to say for certain now, and legal proceedings are still at a nascent stage, but that is why it is important for the evidence to be established. US President Joe Biden has repeatedly described his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as a war criminal and called for him to stand trial before international authorities, and warned that Russian forces may face more sanctions over the Bucha massacre. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has condemned Russia’s “despicable attacks” against Ukrainian civilians in Bucha, declared that war crimes committed by Russian troops may amount to genocide.

Surely, Syrian dictator Al-Assad and his special adviser Al-Shibl are complicit Russian partners to the Ukraine atrocity, they are openly encouraging and praising Russian troops, even actively participating by sending troops to Russia.

It is not considered freedom of the press when we see BBC Arabic entertaining war criminals, conveying messages of support from Syria to Russia without being challenged by journalists, breaching UK sanctions list, contradicting mainstream media and UK foreign policy towards Ukraine, violating international humanitarian law and ignoring the huge humanitarian catastrophe that is unfolding in Ukraine.

The Syrian diaspora in the UK calls on the UK government to investigate this event and to hold the personnel involved to accountable. Such persons have no place on British media platforms.

READ: Time to extend the UK’s warm welcome of Ukrainians to all refugees

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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