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Crackdown on Syrian activists continues

Publisher World Organisation Against Torture
Publication Date 9 January 2008
Cite as World Organisation Against Torture, Crackdown on Syrian activists continues, 9 January 2008, available at: [accessed 19 October 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Geneva-Paris, 9 January 2008. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) express their deepest concern about the ongoing arbitrary detention of nine peaceful activists who participated in a meeting which resulted in the creation of the National Council of the Damascus Declaration.

FIDH, OMCT and EMHRN recall that on 9 December 2007, the Syrian State Security Services began a series of arrests of more than forty activists in various cities in Syria, in reaction to the meeting organised by the Damascus Declaration for Democratic and National Change initiative on 1 December 2007, which gathered a wide coalition of political reform activists calling for establishing a democratic system that respects citizens' rights, ensures freedom of speech and association, and ends discrimination based on religious or political beliefs. The meeting gathered 163 persons in Damascus and resulted in the creation of the National Council of the Damascus Declaration, a collective movement of political opposition gathering political activists, as well as human rights defenders.

More recently, on 2 and 3 January 2008, the Syrian security forces arrested two additional activists, Mr. Rashid Satouf, who was released on 5 January, and Mr. Fayez Sarah, a journalist and founding member of the Committees for Revitalising Civil Society in Syria, who remains in detention.

Furthermore, on 7 January 2008, the security forces summoned Mr. Mohammed Haj Darwish, member of the Human Rights Association in Syria and a founding member of the Committees for Revitalizing Civil Society in Syria, to the state security in Damascus, and then arrested him.

As of today, nine remain in detention: Mr. Mohammed Haj Darwish, Mr. Fayez Sarah, Dr. Ahmad Tohme, a political activist, Mr. Jaber al-Shoufi, member of the executive board of the Committees for the Defence of Freedoms and Human Rights in Syria (Comité pour la défense des droits de l'Homme en Syrie - CDF), Mr. Akram al Bunni, a member and founder of the Committee for the Revitalization of Civil Society in Syria, Dr. Fida al-Hurani, a political activist who was elected President of the National Council of the Damascus Declaration, Mr. Ali al-Abdullah, also a member of the Committee for the Revitalisation of Civil Society in Syria, Dr. Walid Bunni, a political activist, and Dr. Yasser Tayser Aleiti, an intellectual[1].

None of these nine persons were brought before a court or charged with any offence. FIDH, OMCT and EMHRN believe that they have been arrested because they expressed their opposition to the Syrian regime, calling for reform, and fear that these persons may be subjected to torture or cruel and inhuman treatment during interrogation and detention.

FIDH, OMCT and EMHRN urge Syrian authorities to guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of these activists and release them immediately. OMCT, EMHRN and FIDH further invite Syrian authorities to re-establish dialogue with Syrian civil society.


For further information, please contact:

FIDH: Gael Grilhot, + 00 33 1 43 55 25 18

OMCT: Delphine Reculeau, + 00 41 22 809 49 39

EMHRN: Marc Degli Esposti - + 45 32 64 17 16

[1]  For more information on the arbitrary arrest of Messrs. Jaber al-Shoufi, Akram al Bunni and Ali al-Abdullah, see the Urgent Appeal of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a joint programme OMCT-FIDH) SYR 002/1207/OBS 169, issued on 18 December 2007.

Copyright notice: OMCT

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