Important Content in This “Letter of complaint sent by Syrians to the BBC team”

Posted on January 26, 2012



Letter of complaint sent by Syrians to the BBC team
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Dear BBC complaint team,

On behalf of many Syrians, we call on you to launch a full investigation and establish the truth behind what so called “Syrian Observatory of Human Rights”, in the light of “Important Letter from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights about Rami Abdul Rahman” which was published on the SOHR website on Tuesday 17th January;
1) There have been many reports/ complaints regarding the credibility of Osama Ali Suleiman or Rami Abdul Rahman who has been quoted across the World by journalists in regards to the death toll of “Syrian protesters killed by security forces”. We now learn from other members in this organisation that his behaviour and the information he has provided are very questionable.

2) What we find a great cause of concern that the BBC has designated a page for the SOHR profile, by Olivia Lang, which seem to have a lot of misconceptions.

What is even more worrying that the BBC who regularly quoted Rami Abul Rahman’s updates, found no reason to cover this big news nor to amend the profile of so called SOHR accordingly!!

Here are some of the contradictions which we would like to point out;

– BBC/ SOHR profile(Olivia Lang, last updated 28/12/2012)
“It was started in May 2006 by a businessman, Rami Abdul Rahman, in an effort to raise awareness of human rights and freedom of speech in a country where those who spoke out frequently found themselves arrested.”

SOHR Letter. “When he (Rami Abdul Rahman) equals the executioner and the victim: through propagating false claims about imaginary numbers of the security and army elements killed, and that are stated only by Mr. Osama Suleiman (Rami Abdul-Rahman) who does not rely on any documentation of the numbers he gives.”

SOHR Letter. “There is however a gentleman based in Coventry whose primary profession is installing satellite dishes who volunteered at the SOHR in late 2010.This gentleman is called Mr Osama Ali Suleiman and as a volunteer he contributed in publishing the Arabic language news articles on the SOHR website This was the full extend of his remit and contribution, as a volunteer of this organisation. It is worth noting that Mr Osama is unable to communicate professionally in English language and only had a very modest level of education in Syria.”

– BBC/ SOHR profile(Olivia Lang, last updated 28/12/2012)
“Hivin Kako, a volunteer with the Observatory, says the reporting process is difficult given the situation, but that it has never had a case where it has listed someone as dead who was later found out not to be.”

SOHR Letter. ..”despite of the fact that he has never supported any of the reports he issued since the eruption of the Revolution with the number of victims with their names or places in which they were killed; whereas, all other commissions and committee do this.”

Also, there is no reference to a volunteer called Hivin Kako in the SOHR’s letter.

– BBC/ SOHR profile(Olivia Lang, last updated 28/12/2012)
“The organisation has also expressed its opposition to foreign intervention, saying it prefers the more peaceful approaches taken by the Arab League, who this week sent observers into Syria as part of a deal to end the violence.”

Why would someone like “Rami Abdul Rahman” meet Foreign Secretary William Hague if his suspicious role was not to provide a case for foreign intervention in Syria, by NATO?

3) It’s fair to say that the letter of SOHR raises many questions in regards to “Rami Abdul Rahman” and his role at the start of the Syrian crisis and then in the months following August when his “links with Rifaat al Assad were suspected”;

“In August 2011 the board of trustees asked Mr Osama to cease publishing news articles onto the website as it was alleged that he had established links with Mr Rifaat Al Assad (the uncle of the current Syrian President Bashar Al Assad). The very nature of the articles being published were also controversial as they were not verified by any other member of SOHR and they referred to incidents and deaths suffered by the Syrian regime security forces. The reasons as to why this raised suspicions is because the Observatory does not have any links with Syrian regime members in order to be able to state or verify any such incidents.

The rest of the organisation decided that due to the swift developing nature of the Syrian uprising no time should be wasted in altercating with Mr Osama as the website that he was controlling doesn’t ever hold any useful/recent information on Syria and that he would not be able to actually engage in any activity with the English speaking press. As a result was established and it gets regularly updated (in both Arabic and English) with the developments on the ground in Syria.”

4) There is also a confusion regarding the name “Rami Abdul Rahman” that was claimed to have been used by various members in this organisation (a matter that is hard to prove). Later in the letter there was a clear associated between this name and Osama Ali Suleiman only.

Finally, we hope that the BBC will address this issue in a sense of urgency, as the story does extremely undermine the credibility of the SOHR. It also undermines the credibility of the BBC which is based in London for having failed to challenge the unverified claims made by “Rami Abdul Rahman” over the last few months and having failed to see in the SOHR’s letter issued last week a story that is newsworthy. All the details suggest that Rami Abdul Rahman is the new Amina Arraf (the Gay Girl in Damascus)!!

Thank you for your help!
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Written by Hiba Kelanee on January 22, 2012