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Journalist arrested while covering demonstration

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 22 December 2011 - ANHRI is deeply disturbed over the recurrent detentions of journalists, media practitioners and opinion makers in Syria for their anti-regime opinions.

Security force personnel detained journalist Mohamed Dahnoun on 20 December 2011 while he was covering a demonstration in the Al-Midan area in downtown Damascus. Eyewitnesses say he was escorted away from the demonstration and detained in an unknown location.

It is worth noting that Dahnoun was born in Idleb and is a graduate of the Faculty of Engineering at Damascus University. He has been a correspondent for the "Youth of al-Safeer" page of the Lebanese "al-Safeer" newspaper for years, and has been covering the unfolding events of the Syrian uprising since its beginning.

Journalists and bloggers in Syria have been suffering from successive detentions since the outbreak of the Syrian uprising in February. On 14 December, the Syrian State Security force detained Ammar Musare', a journalist and member of the Residential Association of Journalists, at the Damascus International Airport as he was heading to Saudi Arabia to visit his daughter. The detention of Musare', who also worked as a correspondent for the al-Hurra channel in Damascus, remains unexplained.

On 8 December, immigration authorities arrested photographer and film producer Guevara Nemer as she was on her way to the United Arab Emirates to attend the Dubai Film Festival, to which she and other Syrian artists and media professionals had been invited. The arrest was based on an order issued by the political security police force.

Syrian activist and blogger Razan Ghazawi was detained 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 the Freedom of Journalists. She was accused of "conducting propaganda aimed at undermining national sentiment", inciting racism and sectarianism", and "establishing the Coordination of Damascus Districts". The prosecution released Ghazawi on 18 December on a bail of 15,000 Syrian pounds (approx. US$300).

"The ongoing detentions of journalists and bloggers are part of an organized campaign targeting every pro-revolution opinion maker. This campaign aims to prevent them from showing solidarity with the people and their legitimate demands," said ANHRI.

"Journalists and opinion makers in Syria have been killed, detained and injured. The condition of freedoms is lamentable under the silence of the Arab and international community regarding the recurrent violations of the rights of the Syrian people, as if nothing has happened," added ANHRI.

ANHRI calls on rights organizations and all those concerned about freedom of opinion and expression to stand together and resist this organized campaign.

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