On his blog, Simon Collis, Britain’s Ambassador to Syria, writes:
The Syrian regime doesn’t want you to know that its security forces and the gangs that support them are killing, arresting and abusing mostly peaceful protesters: The UN says over 2,700 people have died in the last six months, some of them under torture in prison. It doesn’t want you to know that it is preventing many from meeting peacefully to discuss reform. It wants you to hear only one version of the truth – its own. And to see only one way out – the return to authoritarian rule where fear surpasses a desire for freedom. This is a regime that remains determined to control every significant aspect of political life in Syria. It is used to power. And it will do anything to keep it.
People say that in today’s world it’s no longer possible to hide the truth. A lot’s been said about the power of Twitter and Facebook, the inability for information to be censored in Tunisia and Egypt. The cruel reality in Syria is that they are doing all they can to pull the shutters down.
Foreign journalists are refused entry. Any non-Syrian local correspondents are kicked out – sometimes after a beating. Syrian correspondents, bloggers and citizen journalists are systematically tracked down and imprisoned. It’s a criminal offence to have a satellite phone. Mobile phone and internet networks are heavily monitored, or connection reduced to a crawl especially on Fridays. They are cut entirely anywhere the security forces mount mass arrest campaigns or send heavy armour into cities. Websites and satellite TV channels are blocked, with help from Iran. Before the start of this crisis Reporters Without Borders already ranked Syria as the fifth worst place in the world for media freedom. Over the last six months it’s got worse. A lot worse. The regime wants to create its own truth. We should not let it.