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.