Syrian Arab Republic: The Syrian authorities must reveal the fate of Mazen Darwish and SCM staff
The Syrian authorities must reveal the
fate of Mazen Darwish and SCM staff
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14, 2012
undersigning organizations express their grave concerns for the safety of Mr. Mazen
Darwish, Head of the Damascus based Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of
Expression (SCM) and seven of his colleagues, arrested by Air Force
Intelligence members on February 16, 2012 during a raid on their Damascus
to a trustworthy source within Syria, Mr. Darwish has been subjected to torture
and other ill-treatment during his interrogation and imprisonment at an Air Force Intelligence detention center in Damascus.
We have reasons to believe that his life is in danger, especially as Mazen
Darwish faces serious previous health issues that require medical treatment and
worsen his condition.
Mazen Darwish was arrested along with 15 other persons during the February 16 raid. Seven women detained were conditionally
released in the following 48 hours, but have to report to the detention
center every day for further interrogations. Mr.
Shady Yazbek, a visitor to the SCM arrested
along with the staff during the raid, was released on March 12, 2012. No charges
have been pressed against them so far.
their detention almost a month ago, Mr. Mazen Darwish and eight other men have
been held in incommunicado detention at the Air Force Intelligence detention
center located in El Mezzeh, Damascus. They have no access to any of their
colleagues, family members or their lawyers and so far no official charges have
been pressed against them.
The undersigned organizations are gravely concerned about the fate of the
persons who remain in detention following the raid on SCM office and repeat
their call to Syrian authorities to unconditionally release those detained as
the detention is apparently related to their peaceful activities as human right
defenders, bloggers and journalists.
Mr. Mazen Darwish, detained SCM staff members include Mr. Hani Zitani,
Mr. Abdel Rahman Hamada, Mr. Hussein Gharir, Mr. Mansour
Al-Omarei, Mr. Joan Fersso, Mr. Ayham Ghazoul and Mr. Bassam
undersigned groups have documented systematic and widespread torture by Syria’s
security services against detainees since the beginning of the unrest in the
country. According to the Violations Documentation Center, a Syrian network of
activists, at least 386 detainees died in custody since the start of the
uprising on March 15, 2011.
undersigned organizations reiterate that the Syrian authorities are responsible
and accountable under international law for guaranteeing the physical and
mental integrity of all detainees, including Mr. Mazen Darwish and his
colleagues. Furthermore, the Syrian authorities must put an immediate end to
arbitrary arrests and harassment of human rights defenders, including those
advocating for freedom of expression, journalists, and bloggers. The
authorities must release all persons who remain arbitrarily detained.
Institute for Human Rights Studies
Committee to Protect Journalists
Center for Human Rights Studies
Human Rights Network
Line - International Foundation for the
Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Human Rights Watch
Institute for Development Cooperation (Hivos)
Commission of Jurists
Committee for Human Rights
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)
Reporters Without Borders
Organization for Human Rights – Swasiah
Organization for Human Rights – MAF