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Outspoken promoter of democratic reform denied right to travel for urgently needed medical care

(HRinfo/IFEX) - On 14 August 2007, HRinfo urged the Syrian government to allow former MP Ryad Seif to leave the country to seek medical care. Seif was diagnosed with cancer two months before and has not received any medication due to the lack of it in Syria.

Seif was a former prisoner of conscience, detained in 2001 while a member in the Syrian Parliament, for speaking out about a major corruption case regarding a cellular telephone deal. The former MP was stripped of his legally conferred impunity and protection.

Seif stayed behind bars for four years. Despite his imprisonment, he did not stop calling for democratic reform in Syria, which led his being prohibited from traveling abroad. Seif was prevented from traveling abroad in 2006, when he needed to do so for surgery. This arbitrary denial of his legal right to travel represents a threat to his life, considering his critical medical condition.

"Every individual's right to travel and to freedom of movement is a legal right according to Syrian law and the international treaties signed by Syria; to prohibit an innocent former MP in need of urgent medical care from traveling abroad constitutes a crime. We mustn't allow it to take place" said Gamal Eid, executive director of HRinfo.

In a statement to Syrian President Bashar el-Asad, HRinfo urges him to issue a decree to allow Seif to travel abroad to receive medical care at the expense of the Syrian authorities. Without this, any talks about reform in Syria will be just empty words.

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