Kholoud Waleed and a group of journalists have been running a newspaper and distributing around 7000 copies in Syria for the last six years in spite of facing threats and difficulties. In 2012, when violence and brutality had spread all around, Waleed decided to raise the voice of civilians and publish stories on pain and trauma resulting from the Syrian Civil War.
In January 2012, Waleed and her fellow citizen journalists started a newspaper Enab Baldi), a Syrian underground newspaper published in both print and digital editions. The print version, amounting at 7000 copies every week is distributed in northern parts of Syria and in Turkey to Syrian refugees. In the southern part of Syria, Enab Baladi ‘s office and printing equipment’s were destroyed by the Assad forces and it was banned in the region.
Enab Baladi was also distributed in the southern parts of Syria but after Assad forces destroyed its office and equipment in Daraya, the team was forced to start printing and distributing in northern Syria only.
In such critical circumstances, when the national media was dominated by Assad regime, foreign media was leaving the nation and the voice of the vulnerable had vanished – Waleed looked at several social media platforms to figure out the ongoing situation around the country and decided that it was time to start something on her own.
Kholoud Waleed said that within a span of just three years she had lost many members of her family and several friends many of whom had either died or been detained. Under such violent circumstance she kept her newspaper alive and worked from her bedroom over both the digital and print versions of the newspaper. Since this was an underground newspaper , she distributed it by loading piles of the copies on garbage trucks that took her newspapers to various parts of the nation.
The act of founding an independent newspaper in Syria is an extensive challenge and when a woman takes this up, it becomes all the more inspiring. The journey of starting her own newspaper has provided many like her the avenue, to express their anguish in such turbulent times. When she and her friends started the newspaper, little did they know that it would transform the way that people looked at public participation in the transformation of a nation. Today it is published in Turkey but every week more than over 2,000 copies are smuggled into Syria.
Mark Johnson is an Independent Journalist – based in Cochin.