UPDATE: Since we posted this statement, new information has come to light which appears to contradict the widely reported story that Muhammad Bayazid was stabbed in an assassination attempt. More on that in The Guardian and the BBC.
The International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School is shocked and saddened by news of the reported assassination attempt on Syrian filmmaker Muhammad Bayazid, whom we hosted – along with his wife and partner in filmmaking, Samah Safi Bayazid – only days earlier for a discussion with our students. They were here in conjunction with a co-sponsored screening of two of their award-winning short films, “Fireplace” and “Orshena.” Bayazid was stabbed in the chest in Turkey on Tuesday night, as he sought funds for his new film project detailing Assad regime’s abuses at notorious Tadmur prison.
“When we chose this life we knew what it meant, because we aren’t from places like America where we can express our opinions,” Samah Safi Bayazid told the Guardian Newspaper. “It’s very hard if you’re an Arab to fight against oppression, your life is always in danger. He was stabbed and I nearly had a stroke just because we wanted to do a film on human rights.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with Muhammad, Samah, and their family and we wish him a speedy recovery. We would also like to express our support of his work in exposing human rights violations and shedding light on the devastating humanitarian cost of the Syrian crisis, and urge a full and proper investigation of this incident.
The attempt on Muhammad Bayazid’s life was the latest in a series of attacks that took place in Turkey targeting outspoken supporters of the Syrian opposition. Last month, prominent Syrian opposition activist Orouba Barakat and her journalist daughter Hala Barakat were stabbed to death in Istanbul. Other victims in the past two years include Syrian journalists and anti-Isis activists Naji Jarf and Zaher Al-Shurqat.