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Syria: Release of Jihan Omar and others in spite of ongoing repression

The Release of prisoner of conscience: Jihan Omar and 6 youth detained over peaceful demonstrations in spite of increased repression against pro-democracy activists

Oslo-Norway, January 13, 2008 /Defend International/ — Defend International welcomes the release of Ms. Jihan Omar and the 6 youth: Sipan Khalil Ali, Pesheng Jamal Sarik(15 years old), Hassen Ahmed Hassen (16 years old), Tahsin Taha Fattah, Shindar Salah Ali and Nafi Abdul Raoof Ghida, but regrets that Mrs. Kawther Tayfor (mother of 10 children), Mrs. Aisha Afendi (mother of 5 children) and former member of Syrian parliament Mr. Othman Mohammed Suliman (62 years old) remain in detention.

According to the information received, on January 7, 2008, Ms. Jihan Omar detained since June 17, 2007, and 6 youth detained for nearly two months over peaceful demonstrations in the cities of Kobani (Ayn Al-Arab) and Qamishli on November 2, 2007, were released. Jihan Omar’s release was ordered on January 2008, while the release of the 6 youth, on three thousand Syrian pounds each, was ordered on December 2007 by the criminal court in the province of Al-Hasaka, 440 miles northeast of Damascus.

However, many human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists remain prosecuted or detained because of their activities and peaceful demonstrations in the same two cities: Kobani (Ayn Al-Arab) and Qamishli. In this regard, Defend International was informed of the whereabouts of Mrs. Tayfor, Mrs. Afendi and Mr. Suliman on January 7, 2008. They are presently in arbitrary and incommunicado detention in Al-Muslmia detention center in Aleppo without charge or trial.

Defend International points out that these events take place in a broader context of increasing repression of the Syrian authorities against human rights defenders, such as pro-reform students, pro-democracy activists and intellectuals.

Defend International call on Syrian authorities to free Mrs. Kawther Tayfor, Mrs. Aisha Afendi and Mr. Othman Mohammed Suliman, as well as the 9 members of “Damascus Declaration” held in prison.
The health of many detainees inside the detention centers is very critical.

Defend International urges Syrian authorities to put an end to any act of harassment against all human rights defenders and pro-democracy activists in the country, as well as to conform with Article 1 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as Article 12.2, which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.

Defend International also reiterate that Syrian authorities should ensure the safety of the detainees; guarantee not to detain them incommunicado, and should release immediately and unconditionally as they are prisoners of conscience.

About Defend International
Defend International is an independent, voluntary, non-profit organization. It forms a worldwide community of DI defenders with members, supporters, activists, donors, friends and subscribers in every part of the world.
Defend International is working for advancing democratization; for promoting pluralism; for encouraging dialogue between cultures and civilizations; for securing human rights; for peace, non-violence, tolerance, justice and equality.


For more information about DI, Ms. Jihan Omar’s case and other cases, please visit DI Web sites:
www.defendinternational.org
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