Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Many Dissidents Arrested in Syria

ReformSyria has recently reported an increasing number of dissidents' arrests by the Syrian Government, see extracts from their reports below:

Date: 17 May
Syrian security forces have arrested early this morning in the city of Homs Mr. Mahmoud Issa (Previously imprisoned between 1992 and 2000), Dr. Safwan Tayfour from the city of Hama, Mr. Khalid Khalifa from Deir al-Zour, Mr. Khalil Hassan, a Kurdish leader (Previously imprisoned for 12 years).

The authorities have also requested that Mr. Suleiman Al-Shammar and Mr. Kamal Sheikho present themselves to the Security Services.

Date: 16 May
According to the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria (NOHR-S), Syrian security forces have arrested Mr. Mahmoud Merhi, a lawyer and official in the NOHR-S. His whereabouts are still unknown.

Furthermore, Syrian authorities, in Hasaka, arrested Mr. Nidal Darwich, a member of the Committees for the Defense of Human Rights without cause. Both arrested have signed the Damascus-Beirut Declaration, which envisioned better relations between Syria and Lebanon through mutual respect and recognition.

Two days ago, Michel Kilo was also arrested for the same reason.

Date: 16 May:
Syrian security forces who have detained Michel Kilo, a moderate dissident because of leading signatory of a declaration calling on Damascus to mend relations with neighboring Lebanon, will face questioning by a civil magistrate tomorrow. A civil court will be handling his case, a far cry from the military courts that dissidents are usually referred to.

Ammar Qurabi, a human rights activist, speaking to Reuters, said: “Kilo is a moderate, but the regime could not stand that he was an architect of the Damascus-Beirut Declaration,”

There was no immediate comment from the Syrian authorities. The Baathist government has jailed increasing numbers of political opponents since Western pressure began over its alleged role in last year’s murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al Hariri, subject of a United Nations inquiry.

Date: 15 May
According to the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria (NOHR) headed by Dr. Ammar Qurabi the Syrian authorities arrested yesterday Mr. Michel Kilo, a dissident whose voice was instrumental in exposing the human rights abuses in Syria. NOHR expressed its shock at the arrest because of Kilo's tempered and moderate voice.

The arrest was prompted, it is believed, because Kilo signed the Damascus-Beirut Declaration (DBD) as one amongst 500 other Syrian and Lebanese intellectuals who tried to weigh-in on the multiple disputes emanating from politicians between both countries. DBD is a balanced view of how Syrian and Lebanese intellectuals view the relationship on the heels of a failed diplomacy that has not been able to deliver, so far, any meaningful results to the satisfaction of both Syria and Lebanon.

Kilo is just another voice amongst many Syrian dissidents and humanists who have been detained, arrested, and persecuted by the Assad regime lately. Of mention are Dr. Kamal Labwani, Mr. Fateh Jamous, Mr. Ali Al-Abdullah and his son Mohammad, and Mr. Mazeed al-Terkawi whose fate is still unknown in addition to hundreds more.

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