By Armand Hurault, Director of ASML/Syria
Sourya is more than a piece of art, it’s an illuminating spark. As readers we look into the gaze of Syrian civilians who have decided to arm themselves with their cameras and pens. This photo-album event brings together 27 reporters who document and archive the life of their neighbours despite the myriad dangers. Against bombing and propaganda, they shine light in the darkness of Syria; they bring color where only black and white usually crosses the boundaries of traditional media.
The voice of civil society
The year 2017 marks the sixth anniversary of the Syrian Revolution. It has also been a year of widespread and diffuse warfare, whose level of complexity is an immediate obstacle to the outside observer.
The conflict has reached a turning point whereby realpolitik has come to trump ethical concerns, turning its back on human rights and democratic aspirations. The revolutionary narrative has been supplanted by politicians and ideologists who use mass media to convey words and images often disconnected from the reality lived by Syrians.
In 2017, more than ever, the time is ripe to put Syrians back in control of the narrative. Sourya restores lived civilian realities through visuals, produced in collaboration with the citizen news agency, SMART News.
Through the traveling lens of the camera, 27 photographers take a human look at the conflict. They document the brutality of war, with their unique perspective. They show the destruction but also, above all, the incredible resilience displayed by men, women and children, who continue to live their lives and pursue dignity against enormous odds.
An object of art … and battle against oblivion
Every scene, every slice of life that photographers offer us, is also a testament to the courage and sense of duty shown by the new generation of independent Syrian journalists. Since the beginning of the revolution in 2011, more than 600 local journalists have been killed in action; by the regime, Russian airstrikes, and extremists of all kinds. In 2010, Reporters without Borders ranked Syria 173rd out of 178 in their annual ranking of press freedom. The Islamic State organization punishes the practice of journalism with death and rebel groups are pushing to limit their independence.
Since the beginning of the war, the networks of early activists have grown into newspapers, radio stations, and TV channels staffed by journalists operating at a highly professional level. These men and women continue their work that forms the backbone of Syrian civil society. They play a crucial role in the future of the country: objectively informing citizens, denouncing human rights violations and challenging the propaganda of various military and extremist groups. At the forefront of the fight against religious extremism, they spread democratic values, promote tolerance and pave the way for future reconciliation.
All proceeds from Sourya will support the work of Syrian journalists. This includes providing equipment to local media, organizing training sessions, and supporting the development of independent journalism.