May 18, 2011

His Excellency President Bashar al-Assad
President of the Republic
Presidential Palace
Abu Rummaneh, Al-Rashid Street       
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: + 963 11 332 3410

His Excellency Brigadier Mohamed Shaar
Minister of the Interior
Ministry of the Interior
Merjeh Circle
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: + 963 11 222 3428

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our concern regarding the detention of writer and editor Najati Tayara.

According to our information, 66-year-old Najati Tayara, a leading activist and writer, was arrested in Homs on May 12, 2011, after he gave a telephone interview to Al-Jazeera TV regarding the crackdown by Syrian forces on peaceful protesters on the city. His whereabouts are unknown and he has had no contact with his family or lawyers. There are mounting concerns that Tayara is at risk of torture and ill-treatment in detention.

Tayara is editor-in-chief of the online Almarsad publication, published by the Syrian Human Rights Observatory, and contributes to the Tayyarat magazine and other periodicals and newspapers in Syria. He has also published several books, including Human Rights and Democracy in Syria, published in Paris in 2001.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned for Najati Tayara’s safety and believes his arrest is endemic of the crackdown in Syria that has been marked by mass arrests and the government’s excessive use of force against peaceful protesters, which has resulted in scores of civilian deaths. We therefore call for Tayara’s immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all others detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Syria is a signatory.
Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.


Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

Ambassador Imad Moustapha
Embassy of Syria
2215 Wyoming Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 265-4585

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