Maybe you’ve heard about it already, but former Seattle PI reporter and columnist Dorothy Parvaz went missing in Syria weeks ago.
UPDATE: Syrian authorities, who finally admitted arresting her have now said she has been deported to Iran.
Go to the Free Dorothy Facebook page for further details and information on how best to help bring her home.
Journalists take risks to make sure people’s stories are told, to shine a light on wrongdoing based on the belief that public awareness is the first step toward positive change. Today happens to be World Press Freedom Day, this year hosted by the U.S.
D, as she prefers to be known, now works for Al Jazeera English, which contrary to popular opinion has done a lot to support freedom and democracy around the world.
If you think Al Jazeera is the Fox News of the Arab world, think again. It is no friend to Arab dictators and was widely viewed (by many despots) as having done more than any Western media to provide aggressive coverage to the uprising in the Middle East at the beginning (in Tunisia) and, frankly, does an excellent job of covering the news anywhere.
D went to Syria to do her job and cover the anti-government protests there. After doing a bang-up job covering the Japanese quake and tsunami crisis, she apparently volunteered to take on the high-risk assignment of trying to go report on the demonstrations in Syria.
Now, we can only hope that public attention to her plight can return the favor — assuring her own freedom and safety.
Parvaz, who holds American, Canadian and Iranian citizenship, arrived in Damascus on Friday and has not been heard from since. As the New York Times reports, Syrian officials have been arresting journalists and typically don’t release public information about the arrests.
Many of my friends and former colleagues at the Seattle PI, as well as a number of national and international organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists, have been working feverishly to pressure Syria for information and for D’s release. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash, has also gotten involved.
Many others of you are calling members of Congress, the Syrian embassy and media to pressure for her safe release.
I trust that we will soon see D again, safe and unharmed, and be treated again to a healthy dose of her unique blend of incisive and sardonic humor.
A Facebook page has been set up for the global effort to Free Dorothy Parvaz.
On Twitter, see #freedorothy