SYRIA : Three human rights defenders released, many others still detained
Paris – Geneva, July 28, 2006. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) in the framework of their joint programme, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, welcome the decision to release Mr. Nidal Derwiche, member of the Committees for the Defence of Human Rights and Democratic Freedoms in Syria (CDF), Mr. Safouan Tayfour, human rights defender, and Mr. Ghaleb Amer, board member of the Arab Organisation for Human Rights.
According to the information received, Mr. Nidal Derwiche, Mr. Safouan Tayfour and Mr. Ghaleb Amer were released on bail July on 17, 2006, reportedly after withdrawing their signatures from a petition, initiated by Syrian and Lebanese intellectuals and human rights defenders, calling for the normalisation of relations between Lebanon and Syria.
Despite the fact that, at the time of their release, they declared that they did not suffer any acts of violence, the Observatory expresses its grave concern over the conditions under which the signatures were removed.
Besides, the Observatory is particularly worried about its deepest concern regarding the continuing detention of Mr Anouar Bunni, founder member of the Syrian Human Rights Association (ASDH) and member of the Committee for the Defence of Prisoners of Conscience, Mr. Michel Kilo, President of the Organisation for the Defence of Freedom of Speech and Press, and Mr. Mahmoud Issa, former political prisoner.
The Observatory recalls that these persons were arrested in the framework of a general wave of repression against civil society representatives, and that Mr. Kilo was arrested after being summoned by Syrian intelligence services, and formally charged with “weakening the national ethic” and “incitement to opposition struggle” (cf. Observatory urgent appeal SYR 003 / 0506 / OBS 060 and FIDH / OMCT joint press release dated May 18, 2006).
The Observatory expresses again its grave concern over their safety, as, since their arrest, no information has been given on their whereabouts nor their conditions of detention, leading to fear that they could be subjected to physical or psychological ill-treatment.
In this respect, the Observatory urges the Syrian authorities to immediately release them as well as other human rights defenders detained in Syria, and to conform with the provisions of the Declaration of Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, as well as other regional and international human rights instruments ratified by Syria.
For more information, please contact:
FIDH: 00 33 1 43 55 25 18
OMCT: 00 41 22 809 49 39