Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2003 - Syria

Pressure on the CDF53

During 2003, members of Committees for the Defence of Human Rights in Syria (Comités pour la défense des droits de l'Homme en Syrie – CDF) continued pursuing their activities despite the lack of legal recognition of their organisation and constant pressure by the Syrian authorities.

CDF members come under systematic surveillance (telephone tapping, mail confiscated, being followed, etc.). Mr. Akhtam Naisseh, President, is regularly called in by the security services and intimidated and his e-mail continues to be intercepted and medicine sent from abroad regularly confiscated. Such pressure is also exerted on the family of Mrs. Mouzon Molshed, member of the Board of Directors, to discourage her from pursuing her activities within the organisation. Mr. Aref Hamza and Mr. Nidal Darwish, also members of the CDF Board of Directors, are regularly subjected to harassment. In November, Mr. Darwish was refused permission to organise a conference in the North of Syria in the Al Hasaka region.

Between May and September 2003, between 25 and 30 CDF members received summons in the region of Hama alone. In particular on 27th August 2003, following criticism by the CDF of the authorities' policy regarding Syrian exiles, Mr. Naisse was called in by the military security services in Damascus. During his interview, he was threatened and insulted by officers who informed him that all CDF activities were banned until further notice.

CDF members decided to ignore this warning. 88 CDF activists received summons in the days preceding the organisation's Congress in October. However, CDF, unable to obtain permission to organise the Congress in Syria, held it in Cairo, in addition to two training courses for CDF members and supporters from CDF, from 10th to 21st October.

Detention of human rights activists54

Mr. Kamal Labwani, member of the CDF Board of Directors, Mr. Aref Alilah, professor of economics and human rights activist, and Mr. Habib Hissa, member of the Founding Committee of the Syrian Human Rights Association, were still being detained at the end of 2003. They were sentenced respectively to five, six and five years' prison and deprived of their civil and political rights in August 2002, by the State Supreme Court for Security. They were arrested arbitrarily in September 2001, during a wave of arrests targeting ten opponents and/or human rights activists in August and September 2001.

[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

53. See Press Release 3rd September 2003.

54. See Annual Report 2002.


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