International PEN welcomes the release of Dr. Aref Dalila, leading economist, writer, and dissident, who was freed on August 7, 2008, after seven years in prison. He was arrested on September 9, 2001, and sentenced in early 2002 to 10 years’ imprisonment with hard labor for his dissident writings. PEN welcomes his amnesty, but reiterates its concern about the number of writers still detained in Syria. PEN calls for the immediate and unconditional 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.

Background Information

Dr. Aref Dalila, former professor and dean of economics at Damascus University and one of the "Damascus Spring" activists, was arrested for a lecture in which he called for democracy and transparency, and declared official corruption. Dalila was subsequently charged with trying to change the constitution by force, through the weakening of national sentiment, by distributing false news and causing racial and sectarian tensions. His trial at the Supreme State Security Court did not comply with international standards of due process.

Dr. Dalila wrote for the banned weekly Al-Doumari and has published many books on economics, politics, and social history. While in prison he was reported to have been in poor health, exacerbated by poor living standards in the prison and harsh treatment.
 
Soon after his release, Dr. Dalila told the BBC that his views had not changed and that he would continue to voice them.

Write A Letter

  • welcoming the release of writer and dissident Dr. Aref Dalila;
  • demanding the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently detained in Syria in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Syria is a signatory.

Send Your Letter To

President of the Republic

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

Minister of Interior
His Excellency General Ghazi Kan'an
Ministry of Interior
Merjeh Circle
Damascus,
Syrian Arab Republic
Fax:  + 963 11 222 3428
E-mail: admin@civilaffair-moi.gov.sy

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Syria in your country.