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Letter to ABC Advisory Council

Below is a letter to the ABC Advisory Council, emailed to the Council on 2nd July.  Up to this point, there has been no response to the concerns expressed in this message from the Council.   Mr Jim Palmer, an ABC Board Executive Officer, wrote to confirm receipt of the letter and to say the matter would be brought to the attention of the Council.


The concerns of a 12 year-old Syrian Australian presents his opinion about events in Syria and the reporting of them.


A 16 year-old speaks about her reasons for supporting the president of Syria.


15 July 2012


To the ABC Advisory Council 

Dear Dr Bradbery, Ms Cadzow, Mr Cordover, Mr Cowans, Ms Foley, Ms Henderson, Mr Legha, Ms Leong, Ms McKain, Ms Penovic, Mr Ryan, and Mr Tran,

I wish to bring the Council’s attention to ABC reporting on the crisis in Syria.  I believe this is a particularly urgent matter.

It demands serious attention because the general mainstream reporting of events in Syria since the crisis began there in March 2011 can have an impact on what happens on the ground to the Syrian people, as well as on the security of the country and the region. It can also have an impact on the lives of people within the Australian community.

As the crisis is impacting on lives now, I sincerely hope the Council is able to give the matter some serious, urgent attention.

I have been very disturbed by much of the reporting of the crisis in Syria on the ABC and have made many calls to ABC international news desks in different cities on various occasions. I have contacted several Radio National producers to recommend people they interview about Syria.  I have also joined three protests outside the ABC offices in Southbank Melbourne.

On this link, there is a complaint I have made to the ABC and the response to it:

What has prompted this letter to you is the report on Behind the News on 19 June 2012.  There are deep divisions developing within the local Middle Eastern communities.  The majority of people, I believe, within the Syrian, Lebanese, and Iraqi communities are aware of the complexities of the situation in Syria and the wider region and are most concerned by the armed Islamist ‘rebels’ in Syria, by the presence of foreign jihadists in Syria and by the strength of the support they receive from various countries, including the United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and some political forces within Lebanon.  Extremist clerics are very active on Al-Jazeera and other Middle Eastern satellite channels as well as on the internet, urging their followers to kill the ‘heretics’ in Syria and any supporters of the regime.  This can give a background to the recent massacres in Syria.  Those killed in Houla, for example, were mostly Shia families, but a members of a family related to a Sunni member of parliament were also murdered. (Ref:

I respect what you have all brought to this Council; you have much in the way of life experience and knowledge and wisdom to offer it.  Therefore, I do not wish to overstate my case.  Instead I will provide links below to articles or resources to assist in your discussion of this matter.

1. The Behind the News report on Syria, 19 June 2012

NB: Friends within the Syrian Australian community – mothers with school age children – submitted comments to BTN but their comments were not posted.  BTN had posted a few positive responses to their story, but then withdrew those and did not accept any comments.  I rang the BTN office in Adelaide, as did other concerned people.  We had hoped that the producer could remove the report because of the harm it could cause within the community and particularly the immediate harm to children who know of relatives or friends of their parents who have been killed by militia/terrorists/’rebels’.

2. Interviews with Australians about Syria.  (Note the interview of a 12-year-old Syrian Australian boy, 1 July 2012. He and his family attended a rally in a community hall yesterday. All except one of these interviews were conducted at the rally.)

3.  ABC News report of a rally in Hobart, January 2012, supported by the local Syrian Australian community

4. Interview with a Syrian Australian woman and her young son who had recently returned from spending 7 months in Syria.

5. A report I wrote and published on the Radio National’s Pool page soon after I returned from a trip to Syria in April 2011.

6. On my ABC Pool page, I have numerous interviews with members of Australians for Syria.  Several months ago.  However, at the beginning of the year I was told not to upload any more interviews related to Syria.  Two of my most recent interviews were unpublished.  This interview with Samir was one of those.

7. I manage two blogs which aim to provide resources that can help people build an understanding of what is occurring in Syria and who the players are, what their agendas might be.

8. There have been some excellent interviews on ABC radio with Middle East experts. However, the information and the views they present clearly do not have an impact on the overall narrative of the ABC as evidenced by the BTN report.   (Richard Stubbs 774 Melbourne) (The World Today interview with John Bradley)  (RN Breakfast interview with Patrick Seale)


I would be very grateful for your serious attention to this matter. Many people within the Syrian and Lebanese communities would welcome the opportunity to discuss these matters further with you.  There were children at the rally in Melbourne yesterday who said they would be very willing to talk to the ABC about this.

Kind regards,

Susan Dirgham

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