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Formerly missing journalist now on trial; activists accused of inciting protests

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 20 November 2011 - ANHRI condemns the ongoing repressive measures against activists and opinion makers in Syria, expressing its deep regret over the disastrous conditions of freedoms, which are getting worse day by day under this autocratic regime that is suppressing the people's fight for freedom and democracy.

Most recently, on 17 November 2011, the activist and blogger Hussein Ghrer was referred from the State Security Administration to civil justice. He was detained on 27 October after he had written on his blog "Silence doesn't serve us after today. We don't want a country where we get imprisoned for uttering a word. We want a country that embraces and welcomes words".

On the same day, a number of other Syrian activists were also referred to trial. The activists are: Assem Hamsho, Shadi Abu Fakhr, Hanadi Zahlout, Omar Al-assad, Rudi Osman, Iftikhar Saeed, Malak Al-Shanawany, Soror El Sheik Moussa, Juan Aiwa. They have been charged with "seeking the change of the structure of the state" and "undermining its prestige" along with "inciting protests".

On 13 November, the Court of First Instance in Ras Al-Ein, Al-Hasskah, held a trial session against the lawyer Mohammed Suleiman Khalil, Secretary of the Kurdish Organization for the Defense of Human Rights and Public Freedoms in Syria; the lawyer Suleiman Mohammed Ismail, a member of the Board of Directors of the Kurdish Committee for Human Rights in Syria (Al-Rasid); and the lawyers Ali Abdullah Colo, Abdul-Wahab Jamil Mohamed, Abdul-Majid Ibrahim Elew, Ismail Mahmoud Aliko, Akram Mohyi Eddine Mamo, and Mohammed Issa Mohammed Ali Ahmed, for "demonstrating without a permit", "inciting demonstrations", contempt, libel, and "slander against the entity of the state and its president". The hearing was postponed to 30 November.

Lina Ibrahim, journalist of "Tishreen" newspaper, disappeared early this month after leaving her house. Her whereabouts remain unknown. Moreover, the freelance reporter Wael Yousef Abaza has been missing from Damascus since 25 October.

"The situation of freedoms in Syria has become disastrous. This dictator is using all kinds of repressive tools, killing protesters and activists on daily basis. Activists, media professionals, and opinion makers are prosecuted in unfair trials. Additionally, bloggers and activists who use their websites to post the daily massacres against the Syrian people are continuously disappearing," said ANHRI.

"We are deeply worried over the ongoing prosecution of bloggers and activists on flimsy charges. These mechanisms practiced by the justice system are clear indications of lack of independence, impartiality, and its subservience to the executive services, resulting in more violations against fundamental freedoms," added ANHRI.

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