Amnesty International: Ukrainian journalist's release must be first test of Syrian opposition coalition

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Dec. 14, 2012, 12:28 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine

Anhar Kochneva
© Photo from Anhar Kochneva’s Facebook account

The main Syrian opposition coalition must ensure the release of a Ukrainian journalist being held by an unidentified armed group which says it is affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), reads a statement of the international human right organization Amnesty International.

"Syrian opposition leaders need to secure Anhar Kochneva's safe release immediately. Hostage-taking during armed conflict is a war crime," said Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Program.

Amnesty International is calling on the opposition coalition to act now to ensure that its allied armed groups adhere strictly to their obligations under international humanitarian law and commit to upholding human rights standards.

The organization's statement says that the call came as the Friends of Syria group recognized the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as the Syrian people's legitimate representative, amid escalating use of heavy weaponry by the Syrian government.

As reported, in early November a video about Ukrainian journalist Kochneva, who went missing in Syria, was posted on YouTube channel registered by Syrian armed oppositionists.

In the video she made a short statement in Arabic: "My name is Anhar. I was kidnapped near Homs. I am asking the Ukrainian and Russian embassies, as well as the Syrian authorities to do what my kidnappers demand."

The last posting in the journalist's LiveJournal dated October 8 reads: "Don't search me for a couple of days. I'll be away." Later on, it was reported that she went missing near Homs.

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