2020-12-12 Uncategorized0

 

RMD

Rozana Media Foundation has signed  a memorandum of understanding with the Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) on establishing professional cooperation and publishing of joint investigative work, in addition to developing cooperative coordination in the field of training, research and networking.

 

This step came to reinforce the Foundation’s goal of supporting investigative journalism, as Rozana has participated in Syria in-Depth project funded by the Guardian Foundation and the International Media Support Corporation (IMS) over a period of three years. The Foundation is also working in partnership with the Syrian Investigative Reporting for Accountability Journalism (SIRAJ) in the production of investigative projects and podcasts.

 

Rozana was the only Syrian media outlet to participate in the Panama investigations/ papers, along with more than 100 partners and other media outlets around the world, to collect and search for leaked documents that revealed prominent corruption files involving politicians and states’ leaders, in addition to taking part in the investigations of the “Russian Laundromat” and “European weapons” along with Arab and international media institutions.

 

ARIJ is the first media network in the Arab world to pioneer investigative journalism in the Arab region following a modernist and professional approach.

 

Rozana Media Foundation started in the French capital Paris mid-July 2013, to open later in 2014 a program studio in the Turkish city of Gaziantep in 2014.

 

Since its inception, the Foundation has launched a radio station that broadcasts programs online via its website and Smartphone application, as well as FM waves in Turkey and northern Syria.

 

Rozana presents an important set of investigations and journalistic reports on its official website and social media platforms, in parallel with providing in-depth and entertaining topics both in its programs that interest and affect the Syrian society, in addition to covering aspects of life in Syria with high sense of objectivity and professionalism, away from any political or religious agendas.

 

Rozana focuses while preparing its programs on the Syrian citizens, at homeland and abroad, primarily on the social level and the changes that have occurred in the Syrians’ lives in general, whether at home or in the different countries of asylum.

 

Rozana established its training centre (RMD) in 2018, whereby it works to qualify trainers and cooperate with them to train a large number of Syrian journalists and citizen journalists.

 

The Foundation has been working recently on a “training project targeting media institutions in Yemen” focused on training four Yemeni radio stations, in order to produce humanitarian and community content that gives priority to civilians and allows them to express themselves, interact and benefit from various media platforms in improving their daily living conditions and create a better future for themselves.

 

ARIJ is the first network in the Arab region dedicated to instilling investigative journalism in Arab media in accordance with an advanced and new methodology in newsrooms.

 

ARIJ’s mission is to raise the standards of investigative journalism, as an essential component of free societies based on documenting facts and conducting in-depth investigations to search for facts from multiple sources.

 

ARIJ has been a guarantor of transparency, accountability and provided a platform for a diversity of views and perspectives over the last decade.

 

 

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2020-11-14 Uncategorized0

RMD

Rozana Media Foundation participated in the “Last chance for media pluralism” conference in Luxembourg

Rozana’s Executive Director, Lina Shawaf, discussed in a speech she delivered during the conference, held last October, the importance of community media, especially in conflict zones such as Syria.

Shawaf also referred to Rozana’s experience during the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, which has been sweeping the world since the beginning of 2020.

During her participation in the conference, Rozana’s Executive Director presented many reports and programs, produced and broadcasted by Rozana platform, since the eruption of the pandemic.

The “Last chance for media pluralism” conference was sponsored by Radio ARA, broadcasting its programs on FM waves and via the Internet, which is considered the voice of all immigrants in Luxembourg with their different languages ​​and cultures.

It is noteworthy that Rozana Media Foundation is a member of the Community Media Forum Europe (CMFE), and is part of the forum’s board of directors.



2020-11-06 Uncategorized0

RMD

Rozana Media Foundation has welcomed a group of Syrian journalists, based in France, to delve into the experience of working in integrated newsrooms.

 

During two weeks, a number of journalists participated in this workshop, during which they learned about the differences between traditional newsrooms and the flow of news work in the integrated newsroom.

 

The training workshops were moderated by editor-in-chief of Rozana Radio, Loujain Haj Youssef.

Loujain Haj Youssef said that “Rozana has been utilizing the integrated newsroom model since 2016, and our staff have been trained to master multiple skills to produce journalistic content that can be suitable for the institution’s various platforms.”

 

Loujain Haj Youssef added: “We present an opportunity to journalists during the training to learn how to implement a successful media integration strategy in the newsroom while maintaining the work quality and providing additional news coverage, in addition to benefiting from the expertise of Rozana Media Foundation, which have been accumulated over the past years in different fields (strategy – motivating journalists – planning).

 

The editor-in-chief advises media institutions to work on building integrated newsrooms according to available resources, while making sure to apply quality standards to the topics published online.

 

Rozana’s expertise in adopting the integrated newsroom model is one of the few experiences in Syria, amid prominent challenges, most notably the journalists’ lack of necessary skills to keep up with technological developments and the absence of adequate technical infrastructure.



2018-09-19 Uncategorized0

RMD

Radio Rozana won the third award among Arab nominees for Media Migration competition in the Euro-Mediterranean Region for the story entitled Susan’s Story: Four Migrations and Announced Death delivered by Paris Studio.

 

The second edition of the Migration Media Award awarded 41 journalists from 18 countries for their excellent journalistic skills in dealing with the topic of migration in the Euro-Mediterranean region. An international jury of 14 senior professional journalists assessed more than 200 applications.

 

The Editor-in-Chief, Loujein Haj Youssef received the award today during a ceremony held in Carthage, Tunisia, for the category of web journalism and Arabic language.

“Radio Rozana” won the competition thanks to the story Susan’s Story: Four Migrations and Announced Death written by Loujein Haj Youssef, who has been working in the media sector for more than 12 years. The award was granted to the original female author of the story, for how much courageous she was to tell details about her own life, and to Syrian women, who are the most vulnerable party in the conflict in Syria.

 

In the six categories of video, print, online, photo, multimedia or radio in the English, French or Arabic languages, the winning entries feature fact-based and impartial reporting on the complexity of migration, its many challenges and opportunities.

 

The Ambassador of the European Union in Tunisia, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Malta, the Director General of the Migration Policy Development Center, the Executive Director of the European Asylum Support Office, and the Director of Development at the Thomson Company, attended at the ceremony.

Rozana Radio received the second prize in the Media Migration Award ceremony in the “Euro-Mediterranean Region” among the nominated Arab radios for the radio program “Fox” presented by Soulafa Lababidi.

 

This award has been granted given the negative effects the current discourse had on migration in Europe and all over the world during the past decade. This situation calls for a review of the methods of gathering, sharing, and disseminating data among different actors. This has a major impact on migration policies and the perceptions of public opinion.

 

The Migration Media Award is an EU-funded journalism competition bringing together four partners based on the initiative of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD).

 

The programmes EUROMED Migration IV and OPEN Media Hub, funded by the EU, developed the scheme in partnership with the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and Malta’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion.



2018-09-14 Uncategorized0

RMD

Radio Rozana’s Executive Director Lina Al-Shawaf received today in Stockholm the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Award for the year 2018.

Radio Rozana, based in Paris and Turkey, is a media outlet that covers Syrian affairs at home and abroad.

The radio has a network of correspondents in all Arab and international capitals, including Paris, London and Stockholm, as well as Turkey.

Rozana Radio’s Executive Director said: “We also cover Syria’s actualities via new media platforms, and also Facebook and Twitter applications. We cover the news from a 360 degrees angle.”

Radio Sweden set an interview with Lina Al-Shawaf which is available on the audio file.



2018-05-17 Uncategorized0

RMD

Last may, the training centre of Rozana Media Foundation organized training workshops for dozens of citizen journalists within Syria, under the supervision of professional journalists from several Syrian media outlets.

The topics covered by the training ranged from the fundamentals of press editing, news industry, to other types of press productions, in addition to television reports, data journalism, and press photography.

The workshops also focused on investigative journalism standards, journalistic ethics, digital safety and data protection. All the exercises were conducted online, except for one workshop held in Azaz, north of Aleppo.

9 trainers, 47 trainees and 105 training sessions

Professional journalists and citizen journalists from various Syrian audiovisual media platforms collaborated with trainees, alongside with other independent media practitioners. Thus, the media outlets involved in the trainings were Enab Baladi, Orient News, Halab Today, al-Arabi, and Rozana.

The training was supervised by journalists and technical specialists from several media centres, namely Abssi Someisem, Ammar Ezz, Mais katt, Ahmad Gbaly, Ibrahim Zaarour, Basil Ibrahim, Ahmad Haj Hamdo, Owaies Akkad, and Yahya al-Subaei.

47 trainees have participated in nine online trainings, under the supervision of nine trainers and with an average of 15 training discussions per session.

The Pedagogical Coordinator, Mohammed al-Hani, told Rozana that “the training started on May 3, which coincided with World Press Freedom Day. The coincidence was intended to deepen the training effort reinforced by basic journalistic values, especially freedom in Syria, which is considered as one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world”.

In February, trainers at the workshops completed a training course for trainers (TOT) organized by Syria Media School at Rozana Foundation’s headquarters in Gaziantep, southern Turkey.

Owaies Akkad, one of the trainers, stated to Rozana that, “a number of obstacles have been overcome, including the weakness of the Internet connexion in Syria and the lack of equipment”. Akkad added that the training was a personal challenge for each trainee to develop his/her own skills and deliver good quality reports.

The online training follows the first part of the workshop held last February as part of the 2018 training project in partnership with the Asfari Foundation and the Danish International Media Support (IMS).

Rozana CEO and Director of the Training Program, Lina Chawaf, stated that the two-part training, organized by Rozana, aims at providing the Syrian media institutions with a qualified and well-trained staff, which will contribute into enhancing and developing media production in general.

She added that the second part of the training program related to the Syrian interior, is a step to develop the skills of citizen journalists at home, as they have become the mainstay of media work in Syria after 2011.

Rozana Media Foundation was launched in 2013. It includes a radio broadcast on the FM in Gaziantep, Turkey, and Online. The Foundation also has a website and a studio in Paris in addition to a training centre.



2018-02-28 Uncategorized0

 

Last Sunday, Rozana Media Organization completed the training of trainers that it held at its headquarters in Gaziantep, southern Turkey, for 7 days with the participation of professional journalists, directors of institutions and directors of 10 Syrian media organizations departments.

 

The training session is the first part of the training project of Rozana Training Center SMS in cooperation with the Asfari Foundation and the International Media Support organization. There will be other stages of training trainers and cooperating with them to train a large number of journalists and Syrian citizen journalists throughout the upcoming period.

 

Trainer and expert journalist Mohammed Al-Hani has conducted five-day training on academic bases. During the last two days, expert trainers in various fields of journalism and other professions have participated in order to set the foundations of the general journalism training and apply them to the various forms of journalism. ARIJ institution has participated through the journalism trainer Musab Shawabkeh in training the trainers in the field of investigation, while journalist Ahmad Dib has provided training for the trainers in the field of audio-visuals. The third trainer, Mehran Oyoun, from Salamatech conducted training in the field of digital security and its techniques.

 

 

Syrian journalists from various media organizations have participated in the training to form a nucleus of reliable Syrian trainers who could be trusted in the future to train Syrian journalists. The training was attended by journalists from Enab Baladi organization, Halab Today TV, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper, Syrian Network for Print Media (SNP), Sada Al-Shaam newspaper, Orient TV, Syrian Press Center, Aleppo Media Center (AMC), Radio Rooh FM, Syrian Women’s Network (SWN), Syrian Journalists Association (SYJA) and a number of media professionals from inside Syria.



2017-02-23 Uncategorized0

RMD

The Polk Award for financial journalism for this year, sponsored by Long Island University, has been awarded to the Panama Papers investigation.

 

Rozana was the only Syrian media outlet to participate in the completion of the Panama Papers’ financial investigations, along with more than 100 partners and other media outlets around the globe, to collect and obtain leaked documents that reveal gigantic corruption files of politicians and heads of states, including the president of the Syrian regime, Bashar Al-Assad, and members of his family.

 

“The Polk Prize is an important recognition of the value of cross-border investigations. This project would not have been possible without the contributions of colleagues and partners in other media outlets,” said Gerard Ryle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

 

The George Polk Journalism Awards are granted every year to acclaim adventurous exclusive investigations that garner significant media attention, in honor of journalist George Polk, the CBS correspondent who was killed in 1948 while covering the Greek civil war.

 

Among the winners of this year’s Polk Awards are The Washington Post, National Public Radio (NPR), and the New York Times.



2016-04-08 Uncategorized0

RMD

Rozana Media Foundation participated in an investigation based on the recently leaked Panama documents. The investigation reveals the names of people and companies suspected of financing terrorism and supporting the Syrian regime by supplying it with fuel for the warplanes that were dropping barrel bombs on several areas in Syria.

 

Rozana was the only Syrian media institution that worked with the ICIJ to complete this investigation, with the help of a group of journalists and citizen journalists who preferred to remain anonymous.

 

One morning in mid-2014, before the sun reached its highest point in the summer sky, two elderly men in Aleppo, northern Syria, were sitting on plastic chairs, chatting quietly and drinking coffee. In front of his grocery booth, Sabri Wahid Asfour and his friend Abu Yassin were watching their neighbours go to work. Suddenly, barrel bombs fell to the ground, causing major damage to a number of residential buildings; and seconds later, it exploded, splattering thousands of shrapnel, nails, and iron rods in all directions, as these barrels are specially designed to cause maximum damage to humans.

 

When the cloud of smoke cleared, Asfour reached for his friend Abu Yassin. “I looked at my friend after I managed to see again through the smoke, and I saw his body torn apart,” recalled Asfour, adding “he was taking his last breaths.”

 

This was one of hundreds of air strikes carried out by the Syrian regime’s aviation during the ongoing conflict in Syria, which has killed thousands of civilians.

 

The air offensive launched by the regime’s aviation in various regions in the country would not have been possible without the support of a network of companies that dodge international sanctions and provide the Syrian regime with oil and gas to fly warplanes in the sky.

 

The US has claimed that three of the companies that helped supply the regime with the fuel are clients of the global law firm Mossack Fonseca & Co., which helped companies and maintained overseas subsidiaries in the Seychelles islands (the Indian Ocean), which are considered tax havens.

 

The Mossack Fonseca law firm maintained close business ties with at least one of these companies, after being blacklisted by the US government due to its support of the Syrian regime’s war machine, in addition to dozens of Fonseca clients who were subject to sanctions by the US office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

 

The Panama-based Mossack Fonseca, which has offices around the world, had worked with at least 33 people and companies who were on the OFAC blacklist, according to an analyst who worked on internal files prepared by investigative reporters, belonging to the German Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and other media partners.

 

In some cases, Mossack Fonseca disengages from work contracts with individuals and companies before the imposition of sanctions on them, and in others instances; the clients get penalized during their collaboration with the firm.

 

Partnering media organizations studied more than 11.5 million documents, including email correspondence, customer accounts, and financial records that exposed Mossack Fonseca internal business from 1977 to December 2015.

 

Reports show that Mossack Fonseca has made money from shell companies for years, which have been used by people suspected of being terrorists or war criminals in the Middle East, and drug traffickers in Mexico, Guatemala, and Eastern Europe, in addition to dealers of (nuclear) weapons of mass destruction in Iran and North Korea, and arms dealers in South Africa.

 

Jason Sherman, a professor at the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University (Australia) and co-author of the groundbreaking study on shell companies, said: “It looks almost like a suicide, a company that accepts to deal with all these bad people. Even if it is a cynical idea to you, they will hesitate a lot before dealing with entities that have been sanctioned by the US.”

 

Mossack Fonseca denies involvement 

 

A spokesman for Mossack Fonseca told the ICIJ that the law firm relied on intermediaries such as banks and other legal services firms to conduct a background check of clients who seek cooperation with Mossack Fonseca.

 

Those intermediaries are supposed to provide the firm as soon as possible with background information about the customer, and whether his/her name is on the sanctions list.

 

The law firm spokesman said: “We have specific procedures to identify those individuals to some extent, and the time needed to disengage from the client varies per jurisdiction, while some authorities require maintaining contact with the client to avoid conflicting elements in the investigations.”

 

“Mossack Fonseca was not aware that it was being hired by people who had any relations with North Korea, Zimbabwe, Syria, or any other country that had been included in the sanctions list, and if the firm comes to know that it represented a client to serve for illegal interests, then we will take appropriate and reasonable measures according us to deal with the case,” the spokesman added.

 

Fuel for war 

 

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which is a financial intelligence and enforcement agency of the US Treasury Department, announced a series of sanctions in 2014 preventing US citizens from doing business with companies and people suspected of supporting the Syrian regime.

 

One of the companies was Pangates International Corp Ltd, which is a petroleum company headquartered in the United Arab Emirates that has been engaged in business contracts with Mossack Fonseca for more than a decade.

 

The OFAC blacklisted Pangates International Corp Ltd in July 2014, accusing it of supplying the Syrian regime with more than 1,000 metric tons of aviation fuel Avgas.

 

“Any Syrian air force battalion would absolutely use the Avgas,” said Nick de Laringa, an editor for Jane’s Defence Weekly Europe.

 

Pangates is part of AbdulKarim Group, which is a giant Syrian company based in Damascus. The OFAC imposed sanctions on two Mossack Fonseca clients who had close ties with subsidiaries of AbdulKarim Group, namely, Maxima Middle East Trading Co. and Morgan Additives Manufacturing Co.

 

The OFAC also imposed penalties on two persons related to these companies, namely, Ahmed Barqawi, who is the general manager of the Maxima Middle East Trading, and Wael Abdel Karim, Executive Director Pangates International Corp, as he reportedly “worked on scheduling many of important fuel and petroleum shipments to supply Syrian warplanes.”

 

According to the OFAC, in June 2014, Pangates International Corp, Maxima Middle East Trading and AbdulKarim Group had worked with a Russian fuel company to obtain the necessary fuel for the refineries controlled by the Syrian regime.

 

A representative of Morgan Additives Manufacturing Co. told the ICIJ that “adding the company to the blacklist was a mistake in the first place,” noting that “Barqawi had resigned from the position of CEO before his name was put on the blacklist, while Abdel Karim resigned after announcing the sanctions, noting that the company is no longer the property of Wael Abdel Karim.”

 

The other firms and individuals who were sanctioned for being directly related with deals to supply the Syrian regime with warplanes fuel, never answered the inquiries addressed to them and did not comment on the matter via email or on the phone.

 

In a previous comment to the media, the Pangates International Corp admitted delivering jet fuel to Syria, but claimed that it was not aware of the destination or purpose of the shipments.

 

In a statement to Reuters, the company said: “We sell to non-Syrian companies who are not on the UAE or US sanctions list. We do not know who uses the fuel at the end, but as far as we know the fuel is used for humanitarian purposes.”

 

Classified files clarified the relations between Pangates and Mossack Fonseca, which began in 1999, when the legal services company listed Mossack Fonseca on the island of Niue in the Pacific Ocean, as the latter had exclusive rights to establish companies abroad.

 

When the authorities in Niue closed overseas registry offices following complaints about possible money laundering operations, Pangates was then moved to Samoa, and then to the Seychelles in 2012. At this point the company was worth $7.5 million.

 

Nine months after the US imposed sanctions on Pangates, Mossack Fonseca was still trading the company’s securities, stating that it was a Seychelles company with legal status. Afterward, Mossack Fonseca continued to help Pangates close its business in Seychelles and sent the company a $ 1100 invoice to cover its commission for the service, while asking for an online money transfer or via the Fonseca bank account in New York.

 

Until August 2015, no more than a year after the sanctions were imposed on Pangates International Corp, Mossack Fonseca recognized the sanctions’ list and rushed to obtain ownership details, invoices, or any specific information about Pangates managers in Dubai and Maxima in the Middle East.

In August 2015, Mossack Fonseca finally acknowledged that these companies were on international sanctions lists.

 

Al-Assad’s maternal cousin 

 

Leaked documents from the Mossack Fonseca law firm revealed details about working with Rami Makhlouf, who is the maternal cousin of the dictator Bashar Al-Assad.

 

Early in 2008, the US Treasury Department had identified Makhlouf as being an official of the Syrian regime, who improperly benefited from and contributed to materializing the corrupt practices of regime officials, froze his bank accounts in the USA and prevented companies or persons from dealing with him.

 

Later that year, it was widely announced that the United States had placed some of Makhlouf’s companies on the sanctions’ list.

 

All this changed in 2010 when the authorities in the British Virgin Islands requested information about Drex Technologies, which is a company owned by Makhlouf that had merged with Mossack Fonseca years ago.

 

Staff at Mossack Fonseca looked for information that had been widely circulated for years and quickly found out about Makhlouf’s political connections.

 

At this point, when the files were revealed, an official at Mossack Fonseca wanted to disengage with Makhlouf right away, but one of the partners resisted, hoping that the company would not lose its business.

 

Partner, Chris Zollinger, wrote to his colleagues: “There are rumours, but there are no facts, no official investigations, and no indictments.”

 

Zollinger had briefed his colleagues on conversations between Mossack Fonseca and HSBC Bank (a Britain-based bank through which most of Makhlouf’s financial transactions were made), as the bank confirmed to the legal services department that the HSBC offices in Geneva and London knew about Makhlouf’s situation and were comfortable to collaborate with him.

 

“If this bank does not have any problem with Rami Makhlouf, then we can accept him too,” said Zollinger. However, he finally agreed to cut ties with Al-Assad’s cousin after a long discussion with his colleagues and after the escalation of official investigations on Makhlouf’s financial empire.

Zollinger recently told Süddeutsche Zeitung that he regrets commenting on the subject via email which was the wrong step to take, adding that Mossack Fonseca does not have any influence over the companies associated with Makhlouf, who did not respond when asked to comment.

 


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