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Detention and harassment of Syrian Human Rights defenders
SYRIA: Detention and harassment of Syrian human rights defenders amid harsh
repression of protests in the country
Paris-Geneva, August 9, 2011. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights
Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), vehemently condemns the
ongoing repression of Syrian human rights defenders, amid harsh and generalised
repression in the country.
On August 8, 2011, at least twenty members of Syria’s Intelligence Agency (Mukhabarat)
arrested Mr. Walid Al Bunni, a member of the Syrian Organisation for Human Rights
(SWASIAH) as well as of the Founding Committee for the National Dialogue Forum and of
the Committees for the Revival of Civil Society, together with his two sons, while at his house
in the city of Al Tal, Damascus governorate. One of his sons was later released but as of
August 8, 2011, no information could be obtained about the whereabouts of Mr. Al Bunni and
his other son.
Moreover, on August 2, 2011, Mr. Mohamed Najati Tayara, a human rights activist and
former Vice-President of the Syrian Association for Human Rights, was subjected to physical
assault in the central prison of Homs, where he has been detained since May 12, 2011.
Members of the Syrian security forces violently assaulted eight detainees, including Mr.
Najati Tayara, after a sit-in was organised by some prisoners to denounce their arbitrary
detention. Mr. Najati Tayara was severely injured and was suffering from severe bleeding as
of the end of last week.
Previously, on July 5, 2011, Mr. Ahmad Tomeh, elected member of the General Secretariat
of the National Council of the Damascus Declaration for Democratic National Change
(NCDD), was arrested by the security forces while working at his medical clinic near Der Al-
Zor. He was subsequently released in the course of last week, putting an end to a month of
incommunicado detention. No information could be obtained as to whether charges are
pending against him. Prior to his arrest, Mr. Tomeh had been reporting on human rights
violations committed in Der Al-Zor.
The Observatory was also informed of acts of judicial harassment against the brother and
husband of the human rights lawyer Ms. Razan Zaitouneh, Messrs. Abd Al-Rahman
Hammada and Wa’el Hammada. On July 31, 2011, Mr. Wa’el Hammada was released on
bail after two and a half months of arbitrary detention, but he remains charged with alleged
“affiliation to a secret society” and for having “initiated sectarianism”. On June 27, 2011, Mr.
Abd Al-Rahman Hammada was also released on bail after his arrest on April 30. He was
detained incommunicado in the facilities of the Air Force Security and the Adra prison near
Damascus, and was reportedly subjected to ill-treatment during his first two weeks of
detention. Mr. Al-Rahman Hammada is currently facing several charges including
“weakening national sentiment” and “conveying within Syria false information that could
hinder the morale of the nation”, pursuant to Articles 285 and 286 of the Syrian Criminal
The Observatory firmly condemns the acts of harassment against the above-mentioned
human rights defenders, as they provide further evidence of the continued repression of
dissenting voices in Syria. Accordingly, the Observatory calls upon the Syrian authorities to
guarantee in all circumstances their physical and psychological integrity, to disclose the
whereabouts of Mr. Walid Al Bunni and his son and to release them and Mr. Mohamed
Najati Tayara immediately and unconditionally, in conformity with the provisions of the
United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders