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Friday, March 12, 2010

Obama's 'engagement' with Syria means repression for Syrians

I'm amazed they took time to notice, but Human Rights Watch reports that repression has increased in Syria in the last three months, as the United States and other Western countries have expanded their outreach to the Assad dictatorship.
On March 2, 2010, Military Intelligence in Aleppo stormed the apartment of Abdel Hafez Abdel Rahman, a board member of the unlicensed Kurdish human rights group MAF (“Right” in Kurdish), and detained him with another MAF board member, Nadera Abdo. Other members of the group said that the detention is tied to Abdel Rahman’s activities for the group MAF. While the security services released Abdo on March 6, Abdel Rahman remains in detention.

Security services have also detained bloggers, journalists, and writers. On December 27, 2009, State Security called in Tal al-Mallohi, 19, a secondary school student, for interrogation, reportedly for articles she wrote and distributed on her blog. A few days later, the security services confiscated her computer and detained her. A Syrian human rights activist told Human Rights Watch that she remains in detention. Human Rights Watch was unable to determine what article the security forces deemed objectionable.

On November 22, State Security detained without explanation Ma`en `Akel, a journalist at the newspaper Thawra. Syrian activists following the case said `Akel apparently was detained for investigating government corruption. Security forces finally released him on February 23 without charging him with a crime. On January 7, security forces detained another journalist, Ali Taha, and a photographer, Ali Ahmad, in the Sayyida Zaynab neighborhood of Damascus. They were released on February 7, without having been charged. Both work for the satellite TV station Rotana, which mainly focuses on social life topics.

On February 10, border police detained Ragheda Sa`id Hasan, who had been a political prisoner in the 1990s for her Communist Action Party membership, as she tried to cross into Lebanon. Three days later, unidentified individuals entered her apartment and confiscated a copy of “The New Prophets,” a manuscript in which she describes her experience as a political detainee, as well as publications issued by various Syrian opposition parties. She remains in detention.
Human Rights Watch urges the United States and the Europeans to raise human rights issues with the Syrians at every opportunity. Good luck with that. The Obama administration has already proven time and time again that it doesn't give a damn about human rights.


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