In spite of increased repression against pro-democracy activists in Syria, a number of prisoners of conscience were released! Jihan Omar and 6 youth detained over peaceful demonstrations were freed following urgent actions launched by DI launched demanding their release!
Syria: Release of Jihan Omar in Spite of Ongoing Repression
13 January 2008
Oslo-Norway — Defend International welcomes the release of Ms. Jihan Omar and the 6 youth: Sipan Khalil Ali, Pesheng Jamal Sarik(15 years old), Hassen Ahmed Hassen (16 years old), Tahsin Taha Fattah, Shindar Salah Ali and Nafi Abdul Raoof Ghida, but regrets that Mrs. Kawther Tayfor (mother of 10 children), Mrs. Aisha Afendi (mother of 5 children) and former member of Syrian parliament Mr. Othman Mohammed Suliman (62 years old) remain in detention.
According to the information received, on 7 January 2008, Ms. Omar detained since 17 June 2007, and 6 youth detained for nearly two months over peaceful demonstrations in the cities of Kobani (Ayn Al-Arab) and Qamishli on 2 November 2007, were released. Omar’s release was ordered in January 2008, while the release of the 6 youth (on three thousand Syrian pounds each) in December 2007 by the criminal court in the province of Al-Hasaka, 440 miles northeast of Damascus.
However, other human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists remain prosecuted or detained because of their activities and peaceful demonstrations in the same two cities: Kobani and Qamishli. In this regard, Defend International was informed of the whereabouts of Mrs. Tayfor, Mrs. Afendi and Mr. Suliman on 7 January 2008. They are presently in arbitrary and incommunicado detention in Al-Muslmia detention center in Aleppo without charge or trial.
Defend International points out that these events take place in a broader context of increasing repression of the Syrian authorities against human rights defenders, including pro-reform students, pro-democracy activists and intellectuals.
Defend International calls on Syrian authorities to free Mrs. Kawther Tayfor, Mrs. Aisha Afendi and Mr. Othman Mohammed Suliman, as well as the 9 members of “Damascus Declaration” held in prison. The health of many detainees inside the detention centers is very critical.
Defend International urges Syrian authorities to put an end to act of harassment against all human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists in the country, as well as to conform with Article 1 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as Article 12.2, which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.
Defend International also reiterates that Syrian authorities should ensure the safety of the detainees; guarantee not to detain them incommunicado, and should release immediately and unconditionally as they are prisoners of conscience.
Photos: Artworks by DI member Mr. Kane Alan.