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Blogger arrested at border on her way to media conference

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 5 December, 2011 - Syrian activist and blogger Razan Ghazawi was arrested on 4 December by immigration police at the Syria-Jordan border as she was on her way to the "Forum of Media Freedom Defenders in the Arab World" in Amman, organized by the Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists.

Ghazawi is a media coordinator at the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression. She launched her own blog, "Razaniyyat", in 2009. She is also a member of the cultural committee "A Club for Everyone" and winner of the poetry award from the University of Balamand in Lebanon.

Her detention is part of an organized campaign by the illegitimate regime authorities against bloggers, media professionals, opinion makers, and the mass media, says ANHRI. On 23 November, the Syrian authorities seized copies of the newspaper "Baladna" from newsstands because of an article written by Bassam Jenny. The head of the National Media Council, Taleb kadi Amin, said the decision was in response to Jenny's "insulting" of Baath party affiliates, whom the writer described as "a set of thieves who looted the country".

On 20 November, security forces killed photographer Farzat Ejerban and gauged out his right eye, a day after they arrested him in Qasir, in Homs governorate. Passersby found his body lying on the road, mutilated and brutally tortured. Ejerban regularly photographed and documented events in Homs and reported them to Arab channels.

On 17 November, activist and blogger Hussein Ghrer was referred from the State Security Administration to the civil courts for trial. He was detained on 27 October after he wrote in 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 activists were also referred to trial, including Assem Hamsho, Shadi Abu Fakhr, Hanadi Zahlout, Omar Al-assad, Rudi Osman, Iftikhar Saeed, Malak Al-Shanawany, Soror El Sheik Moussa, and Juan Aiwa.

Lina Ibrahim, a journalist for "Tishreen" newspaper, disappeared earlier this month after she was seen leaving her house. Her whereabouts remain unknown. Freelance reporter Wael Yousef Abaza has also been missing since he was last seen on 25 October in Damascus.

"The ongoing detention of bloggers and opinion makers is part of an organized campaign that aims to suppress freedom of opinion and expression by intimidating opinion makers in order to prevent them from exposing the massacre of people who want to liberate themselves," said ANHRI.

"The situation of freedoms in Syria has become disastrous. (Assad) is using all kinds of repressive tools, killing protesters and activists on a daily basis. Activists, media professionals, and opinion makers are prosecuted in unfair trials. Moreover, bloggers and activists who use their websites to report these massacres are disappearing," added ANHRI.

ANHRI calls for all human rights organizations to stand together to expose these violations against the Syrian people.
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