Urgent Interventions

Arrest of Mr. Mazen Darwish, Director of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression


SYR 004 / 0311 / OBS 043

Arbitrary arrest / Incommunicado detention /

Fear for psychological and physical integrity

Syrian Arab Republic

March 24, 2011

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme ofthe International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World OrganisationAgainst Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgentintervention on the following situation in Syria.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sourcesof the arbitrary arrest of Mr. Mazen Darwish, Director of the SyrianCentre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM).

According to the information received, Mr. MazenDarwish went at noon on March 23, 2011 at the political police headquarters inAlmaysat in Damascus after being summoned by a high officer, who called him inthe morning. Since then, no further information could be obtained on Mr. MazenDarwish’s fate and whereabouts.

The Observatory recalls that on March 16, 2011, Mr.Mazen Darwish was among the activists arrested at the occasion of a peacefulrally before the Ministry of the Interior organised to call for the release ofall prisoners of conscience in Syria.[1]

TheObservatory is deeply concerned by the arrest of Mr.Mazen Darwish and fears for his physical and psychological integrity. The Observatorycalls upon the Syrian authorities to take prompt action in order to disclosethe fate and whereabouts of Mr. Mazen Darwishand release him immediately as his arrest seems to merely aim at sanctioninghis human rights activities.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Syrian authorities, urging themto:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical andpsychological integrity of Mr.Mazen Darwish;

ii. Takeprompt action in order to disclose the fate and whereabouts of Mr. MazenDarwish and release him, as his arrest seems to merely aim at sanctioning hishuman rights activities;

iii. Orderan immediate, thorough, effective and impartial investigation into theabove-mentioned facts, the result of which must be made public, in order toidentify all those responsible, bring them before a civil competent andimpartial tribunal and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by the law;

iv. Putan end to any kind of harassment against all human rights defenders in Syria;

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration onHuman Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nationson December 9, 1998, especially:

- its Article 1, which states that“everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, topromote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights andfundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;

- its Article 5 (a), which states that“for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamentalfreedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others,at the national and international levels to meet or assemble peacefully”;

- and its Article 12.2, which providesthat “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection bythe competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association withothers, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adversediscrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of hisor her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the presentDeclaration”;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rightsand fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rightsstandards and international instruments ratified by the Syrian Arab Republic.


·President, His Excellency Bashar al-Assad,Presidential Palace, al Rashid Street, Damascus, Syria Arab Republic, Fax: +96311 332 3410;

·Minister of Defence, His Excellency General, Ali HabibMahmud, Ministry of Defence, O mayyad Square, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic,Fax: +963 11 223 7842;

·Minister of Justice, His Excellency Mr. Ahmad HamodYounes, Mazeh “Otstrad”, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic, Fax: +963 11 666 2460

·Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency WallidMu’allim, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, al-Rashid Street, Damascus, Syrian ArabRepublic, Fax: +963 11 332 7620;

·Ambassador Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui, Permanent Mission ofthe Syrian Arab Republic to UN in Geneva, 72 rue de Lausanne, 1202 Geneva,Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 738 42 75, Email:;

·Embassy the Syrian Arab Republic in Brussels, 1 avenueF.D. Roosevelt, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Tel: +32 2 554 19 22; Fax: +32 2 648 1485.

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassyof the Syrian Arabic Republic in your respective country.

* * *

Paris-Geneva, March 24, 2011

Kindly inform us of any action undertakenquoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, isdedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer themconcrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergencyline:

  • E-mail:
  • Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 143 55 18 80
  • Tel and fax OMCT + 41(0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

[1] See urgent appeals SYR 003 / 0311 / OBS 037 and SYR 003 / 0311 / OBS 037.1.