ANHRI condemns the disastrous situation of freedom of opinion and expression
Cairo, 27 November 2011
ANHRI condemns the successive repressive measures against freedom of opinion and expression in Syria, by targeting media practitioners and opinion makers. It has mounted to murdering them and dismembering their bodies. Such practices aim to intimidate their counterparts and gag them over the massacres that occur against the Syrian people daily, and prevent them from reporting to the whole world.
On 23 November, the Syrian authorities withdrew the copies of the newspaper Baladna from the markets, because of an article written by Bassam Jenny. The head of the National Media Council, Taleb kadi Amin, attributed the decision to “insulting everyone affiliated with the Baath party, for the writer described them as “a set of thieves that looted the country”.
On 20 November, the Security Forces killed the Syrian photographer Farzat Ejerban and uprooted his right eye, one day after his arrest in Qasir town in Homs governorate. The people in Homs found his body lying on the road, mutilated and brutally tortured. Ejerban used to photograph and document the events in the city of Homs, and report them to Arab channels.
It is worth noting that this is not the first time that the Security Forces send a repressive message by assaulting the bodies of opinion makers. Ibrahim Fashosh, a Syrian singer, was killed and his body was thrown larynx-less into Assi River, for he had sung the song Leave, Bashar. The cartoonist Ali Farzat, an anti-regime painter, had his fingers broken while under detention.
On 18 November, the authorities arrested the Office Director of the Syrian News Agency, Alaa Khedr, in Deir al-Zour after resigning in protest against “regimes practices against civilians”. He put a tape on his mouth and hanged a sign on his chest that said “I am a Syrian journalist”.
A day earlier, on 17 November, the activist and blogger Hussein Greer, was referred from the State Security Administration to the Civil Justice. He was detained on 27 October after he had written on his blog “Silence does not help us anymore … we do not want a country where the prisons is for uttering a word … we want a country that embraces and welcomes the words.”
On the same day, a number of Syrian activists, Asim Hamasho, Shadi Abu Fakhr, Hanadi Zhleut, Malk el Shenwanee, Soror sheik Mussa, and Joan Iwo were referred to trial. The First Investigation Judge in Damascus referred the activists to the Referral Judge, charging them with “establishing an organization that aims to change the structure of the state”, “undermining the state prestige”, “broadcasting false news”, and “inciting to protests”.
“The targeting of mass media and professionals, as well as opinion makers is a crime. The whole Syrian regime must be penalized, especially after dismembering the bodies of its victims in a hideous manner to deliver a message to anyone who dares to criticize this corrupt regime which has lost its legitimacy” said ANHRI.
ANHRI also added that this corrupt regime, in its last breath, is trying to intimidate any opinion maker, in an organized campaign against freedom of opinion and expression in order to gag everyone trying to expose the repressive practices against the people that want to liberate themselves from a regime that sheds their blood, strips them from freedom and even the sanctity of death.
“The situation of freedoms in Syria was deplorable before the Syrian revolution. Now, however, it has become catastrophic with the outbreak of the popular uprising. Bloggers and activists were referred to the judiciary on tenuous charges. Others have disappeared and their whereabouts remain unknown. More opinion makers are assassinated” added ANHRI.
ANHRI demands all human rights organizations to stand together to expose all the violations against Syrian people and opinion makers.