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Syrian playwright arrested, whereabouts unknown

(WiPC/IFEX) - 21 January 2013 - The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International fears for the safety of playwright and actor Zaki Cordillo, who has been held since 13 August 2012 in Damascus. Cordillo remains detained incommunicado at an unknown location, and is considered to be at serious risk of torture and ill-treatment.

PEN International considers Zaki Cordillo 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, Zaki Cordillo was arrested in Damascus on 13 August 2012 along with his son Mihyar, an actor. He is believed to be targeted for his writings about the current events taking place in Syria. Cordillo is a playwright and a leading figure of Puppet Theatre (known in Arabic as Masrah Azil).

Cordillo has written more than eight plays including Shade and Light, Captain Caracoz and Alma'ar and has directed and acted in his works. He has also written dramas for children such as Watery Dreams, The Active Girl and The Kingdom of Ants.

Since the start of the conflict, dozens of writers, poets and playwrights have been arrested for peacefully expressing their views about the current events taking place in Syria. They include Syrian Palestinian political analyst and blogger Ali Al-Shihabi, arrested on 15 December 2012 by Syrian secret services. His whereabouts are still unknown. Al-Shihabi is a leading writer and has published several books including The World New Structure and Syria, Where to?. He previously spent nine years in prison for his peaceful opposition activities.

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