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Syria
11.04.06
Urgent Interventions

Syria: Judicial proceedings against Mr. Mohammed Ghanem

SYR 002 / 0406 / OBS 046.1

Judicial proceedings
Syria

April 11, 2006

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Syria.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights and Democratic Freedoms in Syria (CDF) that the Syrian Military Intelligence Department (SMID) has decided to try Mr. Mohammed Ghanem, a novelist and a journalist who posts articles denouncing human rights violations in Syria on his website “Souriyoun”, before a military court.

According to the information received, Mr. Mohammed Ghanem is accused of publishing “false news about pretended violations being done against human rights in Syria” on his website “Souriyoun” (Syrians), “weakening the nation’s spirit by publishing false news on Syria’s internal situation” and
“working to split the Syrian homeland“.

According to reliable sources, the second charge would be linked with the articles and reports that Mr. Ghanem published on his website about corruption and repression in Syria”, while the third accusation would be the result of his articles supporting the cultural and political rights of the Kurdish minority in Syria. Indeed, Mr. Ghanem is one of the Syrian Arab intellectuals who support the Kurdish community in Syria to get their political and cultural rights recognized, since the Al-Ba’ath Party came to power in 1963.

According to Syrian Martial Law No.6 issued in 1965, anybody who would be found guilty of one of those charges is facing a 3 to 15 years prison term with hard labor.

Background information :

On March 31, 2006, Mr. Mohammed Ghanem was arrested in his residence in Ar-Rika, North Syria, by armed officers of the Syrian Military Intelligence Department (SMID). He was immediately transferred to Damascus, where he remains detained in the “Palestine Branch” of the Military Intelligence Security (Branch 235), a place that is known for its extremely harsh conditions of detention.

Mr. Ghanem has not been allowed yet to meet neither his lawyer nor his family.

The Observatory recalls that Mr. Mohammed Ghanem had already been detained during 25 days in March 2004, and was then subjected to ill-treatments while kept in confinement, because of his articles condemning the repressing campaigns that were run by the Syrian army and intelligence services against the Kurdish minority.
The Observatory strongly condemns Mr. Mohammed Ghanem’s arbitrary detention and the charges against him, which seem to only aim at sanctioning his activities in favour of human rights in Syria, and at intimidating all human rights defenders.

Action requested:

Please write to the Syrian authorities and ask them to :
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Mohammed Ghanem;

ii. Release Mr. Ghanem immediately and ensure that all charges against him be dropped, as they are arbitrary;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment against him and all other human rights defenders in Syria;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998, especially its article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” and article 12-2 which provides 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”;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Syria.

Addresses:

  • Mr. Bashar al-ASAD, President of the Republic, Presidential Palace, Abu Rummaneh, Al-Rashid Street Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic. Tel/ Fax : + 963 11 33 23 410

  • General Basam ABD AL-MAJID, Ministry of Interior, Merjeh Circle, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic. Tel/Fax : +963 11 222 34 28; Email: admin@civilaffair-moi.gov.sy

  • Mr. Muhammad al-GHAFRI, Ministry of Justice, Al Nasr street, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic. Tel/Fax : +963 11 224 62 50

  • Mr. Walid MU’ALLIM, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, al-Rashid Street, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic. Fax: + 963 11 332 76 20

  • His Excellence Ambassador Mr. Bashar JA’AFARI, Permanent Mission of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations in Geneva, Rue de Lausanne 72 (3rd floor), 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 715 45 60, Email: mission.syria@ties.itu.int

  • Ambassador Mr. Badi Khattab, Diplomatic Mission of the Syrian Arab Republic in Brussels, 1 avenue F.D. Roosevelt, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Tel: + 32 2 554 19 22; Fax: + 32 2 648 14 85

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Syria in your respective countries.

***
Geneva-Paris, April 11, 2006

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

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Email : Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel et fax FIDH : + 33 1 43 55 55 05 / 33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel et fax OMCT : +41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29
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