The Need to Bear Witness in Syria

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Photograph by Peter Hapak for TIME

For the past year, we have chronicled the brutal violations of human rights and democratic freedoms that are occurring in Syria. We have published photo-essays and analyses that document the violence of the discredited Assad regime. This week, our cover story is told through a special eyewitness, French photographer William Daniels, who was on assignment for us in Syria. Daniels was under siege for several days in the battle-scarred city of Homs before escaping back to France. Some of his colleagues were not so lucky. He was at the same house where journalists Rmi Ochlik and Marie Colvin lost their lives. He stayed with his wounded colleague Edith Bouvier until she could escape with him. His dramatic story is a microcosm of what millions of Syrians are going through--only they cannot escape the iron hand of their government and their suffering is far worse. We tell this story to not only document the atrocities occurring in Syria but also highlight the fact that journalists like Daniels, Bouvier, Ochlik and Colvin have been the primary means by which the world even knows what is going on there. Unlike the aborted Green Revolution in Iran or the Arab Spring in Egypt, Syria is far more isolated and repressed, and few people can film, tweet or e-mail evidence of what they are seeing and experiencing. That is one reason, as this story reveals, the Assad regime is deliberately targeting journalists.

Richard Stengel, MANAGING EDITOR

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