Journalists, Bloggers, and Writers Detained, Fears for Safety
PEN International strongly condemns the killings, mass arrests, and disappearances of civilians, including several journalists, bloggers, writers, and activists in the crackdown on peaceful anti-government protests, which have been taking place across Syrian cities since mid-March 2011. PEN is seriously concerned for the welfare of at least five journalists and bloggers arrested for writing about the protests. All are held incommunicado and considered to be at risk of torture and ill-treatment. There are mounting concerns for their safety. PEN calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in Syria for the peaceful expression of their opinions, and urgently seeks guarantees of their safety. It reminds the Syrian authorities of their obligations to protect the 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, and is alarmed at the apparent use of excessive force to suppress peaceful dissent.
According to PEN’s information, anti-government protests were sparked in mid-March 2011 and have since spread across the country. Mass arrests have been taking place and security officers have responded to the continuing protests with excessive force, using tear gas and live bullets to disperse demonstrators. Scores of civilians have reportedly been killed and many more wounded. The following journalists are among those believed to be currently detained:
Dorothy Parvaz: Aljazeera.net correspondent, arrested on April 29, 2011
Mahmoud Issa: Journalist and writer, arrested on April 19, 2011
Khaled Sid Mohand: freelance journalist for a number of news outlets including Le Monde, arrested on April 12, 2011
Zaid Mastu: Al-Arabiya net correspondent, arrested on April 12, 2011
Mohamed Dibo: Journalist and writer, arrested on April 12, 2011
With the Internet and media already severely curtailed in recent years, Syrian authorities have imposed even greater restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly in reaction to recent events. Foreign reporters and correspondents have been asked to leave the country and access to any independent media is denied.
Write A Letter
- Condemning the widespread arrest of journalists and bloggers for reporting on the recent protests in clear violation of their right to freedom of expression;
- Calling on the Syrian authorities to investigate allegations of torture of detainees;
- Calling for the release of all those currently detained in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Syria is a signatory.
Send Your Letter To
His Excellency President Bashar al-Assad
President of the Republic
Abu Rummaneh, Al-Rashid Street
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: +963 11 332 3410
Major Sa’id Mohamed Samour
Minister of Interior
Ministry of Interior
‘Abd al-Rahman Shahbandar Street
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: +963 11 222 3428
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Syria in your country if possible.