Writer arrested, held incommunicado
(WiPC/IFEX) - 11 May 2012 - The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International fears for the safety of leading writer and thinker Salama Kila, who was arrested on 23 April 2012 for his writings about the recent events taking place in Syria. He remains detained incommunicado at an unknown location, and is considered to be at serious risk of torture and ill-treatment. PEN International considers Salama Kila to be targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Syria is a signatory, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
It urgently seeks information about his whereabouts, any charges against him and guarantees of his safety in detention.
According to PEN's information, Salama Kila was arrested when security forces raided his home after midnight and confiscated his computer and disks. The security forces did not give any reason for his arrest. Kila, who is of Palestinian origin, had been previously detained for eight years in Syrian jails in the 1990s. He suffers from cancer, for which he is currently receiving treatment. Kila has written more than twenty books and currently writes for several Arabic newspapers and magazines.
Anti-government protests were sparked in mid-March 2011 and have since spread across the country. Mass arrests have been taking place and security officers have responded to the continuing protests with excessive force, using tear gas and live bullets to disperse demonstrators, and bombarding opposition stronghold areas with mortar bombs and rockets. Thousands of civilians have been killed and many more wounded.
Protestors continue to demand political reform and to call upon President Bashar al-Assad to step down. Syrian authorities continue to suppress these protests with force, often indiscriminately, despite promises to end the violence.
With the internet and media already severely curtailed in recent years, the Syrian authorities have imposed even greater restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly in reaction to recent events. Most foreign reporters and correspondents have been asked to leave the country and access to any independent media is denied.
Please send appeals:
Expressing grave concern for the well-being and whereabouts of writer and thinker Salama Kila;
Expressing concerns for his safety, and seeking assurances that he is not being tortured or ill-treated in detention which violates Article 5 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);
Urging the Syrian authorities to allow him access to immediate medical attention;
Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Salama Kila and all those currently detained in violation of Article 19 the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Syria is a state party;
Given the present crisis in Syria, we suggest that letters are sent to the Syrian embassies in your country where they exist. Also, please distribute this alert as widely as possible in your media and among other interested group.