ISTANBUL (NYTIMES) – A Syrian activist and her daughter, a journalist, have been found murdered in their apartment in Istanbul, family and friends reported on social media on Friday (Sept 22).
Orouba Barakat, 60, and her daughter, Halla Barakat, 22, were discovered on Thursday night in Uskudar, on the Asian side of the city. The news was first announced on social media by Shaza Barakat, Orouba Barakat’s sister.
The two women had been stabbed to death, the Turkish news agency Anadalou reported, quoting a police official.
The Barakats came from a large family known for its long opposition to President Bashar Assad of Syria and his predecessor and father Hafez Assad. The two women were both active in the Syrian refugee community in Turkey.
Orouba Barakat was a member of the opposition Syrian National Council, now known as the Syrian National Coalition, but she had also criticised some members of the opposition. Halla Barakat was an editor for Orient TV, which covers events in the Middle East, and had also worked for the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation.
While there was no official confirmation of the circumstances of the deaths, friends and relatives said the Assad government was to blame.
The two women “were vocal activists in the Syrian revolution, speaking truth to power, and raising awareness about the atrocities committed by the Assad regime,” another relative, Suzanne Barakat, wrote on Facebook.
In a statement, the Syrian National Coalition said, “The hand of terrorism and tyranny is the prime suspect in this heinous crime of assassination.” Social media posts on pro-government sites contained hateful comments about the Barakats.
But the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet published details that indicated a similarity to killings committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The women’s throats had been cut, and they had received a threat on social media 10 days earlier from someone speaking in a Tunisian dialect, the newspaper reported.
The ISIS has claimed responsibility for four previous killings of Syrian journalists in Turkey. A fifth has survived two attacks.
Orouba Barakat had received threats in the days before her killing, but had disregarded them, her brother, Maen Barakat, 56, said in a telephone interview.
“Since threats by the regime have become a common thing, she didn’t pay much attention to them,” he said.