Ouruba Barakat

On 21 September 2017, Syrian human rights defender Orouba Barakat and her journalist daughter Halla Barakat were found stabbed to death in their apartment in Istanbul’s Uskudar neighbourhood on the Asian side of the city.

Orouba Barakat was a prominent Syrian human rights defender and has produced numerous documentaries and interviews in English and Arabic about the prison massacres carried out by the Assad regime.  Recently she had been investigating torture in prisons run by the Syrian government. Her daughter Halla Bakarat was working as an editor for the pro-opposition website Orient News. After the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, they had gone to Britain, then the United Arab Emirates before moving to Istanbul.

On the night of 21 September 2017, after friends of mother and daughter were unable to contact them, they called the police and the bodies were found in their apartment. Post-mortem examinations indicated that Ouruba and Halla had been dead for up to three days. Family members and friends believe that the reason behind these murderers is their courageous human rights work.

This is not the first time Syrian opposition figures have been killed in Turkey. Since the war began, Turkey has become a home to approximately 3 million refugees including Syrian human rights defenders. In 2015, Syrian journalist, film maker and human rights defender Naji Jerf was killed in Turkey’s border city of Gaziantep and in 2016, journalist and human rights defender Zahir El Sherquat was also killed in Gaziantep.



Personal Recollections

In a Facebook post, Orouba Baraka’s niece Suzanne wrote: “How many more beloved family members will I lose to hatred and violence? We are not safe anywhere.”

Halla Barakat, who was born in the USA, was a journalist on a website called Orient News.

Describing her cousin, Suzanne Barakat wrote: “I’ll always remember Halla, whose name means beauty, as the little girl with golden curls and bright green eyes. She grew to become a dynamic, educated, kind, fun-loving, social justice-oriented individual, just like her mom.”

If you would like to provide a personal recollection, please email us at: HRDMemorial@frontlinedefenders.org

Region:Europe-Central Asia





Date of Killing:22/09/2017

Type of Killing:Stabbing

Previous Threats:Yes

Gender component to killing:Evidence of gender-based and/or sexual violence

Status of Investigation:Investigation – no result

Type of Work:Journalist/communicator

Organisation:Syrian National Committee

Sector or Type of Rights the HRD Worked On:Civil and Political Rights

Sector Detail:Abuse of power/corruption, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Association, Freedom of Expression

More information:Front Line Defenders

1This database records an individual's chosen gender identity. If they do not self-identify as male or female they can use the option of recording other/neither or use the term NBGI (non binary gender identity).

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