Established by Fathi Ibrahim Bayoud 2005 - Homs

'The Syrian Archive' local initiative documents war atrocities

Zaman Al Wasl Leaks | 2017-11-01 02:56:13
'The Syrian Archive' local initiative documents war atrocities
(Zaman Al Wasl)- For almost three years, the Syrian Archive has been documenting war atrocities and human rights violations, making an enormous data bank that illustrates six years of bloodshed by the Syrian regime.

The archive serves as a source for researchers and documentarists as well as a tool contributing to implement justice and accountability in Syria.

The Syrian Archive started as local initiative launched by human rights advocates, journalists and archivists. 

Researcher Abdul Rahman Jaloud, a member of the Syrian Archive, told Zaman al-Wasl that the team was concerned that most of the videos posted on YouTube because they conflict with YouTube policy and this is what happened years later.

Jaloud explained that the aim of the project is to find an open source archive for all Syrians away from YouTube that can be used in the fields of human rights and justice and supporting human rights in and outside of Syria.

The work of the Syrian Archive comes in stages including collecting sources and verifying of videos in addition to verifying the location of the video by comparing the reference points like buildings, trees, mountains with the satellite photos provided by Google Earth and by Open Street Map and Panoramio, Jaloud said.

He confirmed that the Syrian Archive now has a list of 1100 sources, pointing out that the archive team take from all reliable sources and upload the videos they produce and place a protection digital stamp to make sure the video is original. 

After that, they classify the videos on a classification based on the standards placed by the International Investigation Committee especially videos or forced disappearance, killing, massacres, sexual violence, and violations against children as well as illegal attack on dignitaries and persons protected by law like civil defense and hospitals in addition to use of illegal weapons like cluster or burning or chemical weapons and videos of siege and starvation.

Following YouTube activation of artificial intelligence feature last July to fight the extremist content, according to Jaloud. Thousands of videos documenting regime crimes were blocked by YouTube which has put the archive in front of a big problem in its mission. Hence, the archive speeded up preservation and classification of videos and it was able to preserve 1 million videos from Syria and retrieved about 600 thousand videos during the past period in cooperation with YouTube.

According to BBC which investigates military raids in conflict areas like Syria and Iraq, YouTube is the first source for Syrians to document war crimes committed in their areas since the start of the conflict.

Jaloud pointed out the archive is ready to cooperate with any Syrian human rights organization and neutral international ones in order to preserve all videos outside of Syria; the videos indicating crimes and violations against humanity during the past 7 years. He added that there are around 80 to 100 thousand videos that have been deleted for good from YouTube and the archive has only 20% to 30% of them.

Jaloud said the biggest challenge for the project today is to collect around 1.5 million videos in one open source place that anyone can use it with no obstacles.

Zaman A Wasl
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