Heybar Othman, 2018 winner
Throughout Syria’s grueling civil war, people living in the northern part of the country have seen waves of destruction, turf battles and oppression.
And as various groups fight for control, information has become a lifeline for those trapped in the conflict.
Despite tremendous personal risk, Alhurra correspondent Heybar Othman has crisscrossed northern Syria to provide a first-hand account of the effects of war there.
He reported on the U.S.-led coalition’s operations against ISIS in Raqqa and neighboring provinces, as well as on the impact war has had on daily life—stories that went largely uncovered by local and pan-Arab media outlets.
Then, following the U.S. -led coalition’s efforts to oust ISIS from Northern Syria, the Turkish military tried to drive the Kurds from the cities of Afrin and Manbij.
Othman was the only reporter from a pan-Arab network to report on this conflict. At great risk to his personal safety, he covered many humanitarian, social, and human rights issues, including:
- the struggles of people taking shelter in caves and getting treated in hospital
- the fears of religious and ethnic minorities, such as Christians, Yazidis, Alawis, and Zoroastrians,
- as well as the destruction of churches and temples by ISIS, and historic sites by Turkish airstrikes.
In February, he got caught in cross fire in Afrin. Then, a few months later, he narrowly escaped after armed men from a Syrian opposition group attacked him and four other journalists.
Despite all this, Othman has reported the facts as they happen, accurately and objectively. His singular contribution to the Arabic media environment is giving voice to the experiences of the Kurds in Northern Syria. Their struggles have been almost invisible in the Arabic media, which is saturated with stories from either a pro-Syrian regime or a Turkey-allied perspective.
Because his outstanding bravery, integrity, and professionalism have advanced the public interest and ensured that Alhurra viewers are accurately informed of the latest events in the war in Northern Syria, Heybar Othman is this year’s Burke Award winner.