Detained Arbitrarily, and Tortured
On the third anniversary of their arrest, Hivos joins 70 other human rights groups in urging the Syrian government to immediately free the prominent Syrian human rights defenders Mazen Darwish, Hani Al-Zitani and Hussein Gharir. The three men have been arbitrarily deprived of their liberty on the basis of their human rights activities.
Syrian Air Force Intelligence arrested all those who were present including the three human rights defenders during a raid on the offices of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) in Damascus on February 16, 2012. All the detained SCM members were released, some on bail, except the three men. Darwish is a journalist and the director of the SCM while Al-Zitani and Gharir are both staff members.
The three men were detained for approximately one year in security branches in conditions amounting to enforced disappearance, where they were subjected to ill treatment and torture. They were then transferred to Adra Central Prison in Damascus.
In February 2013, the three were taken before the Anti-Terrorism Court on charges of “publicizing terrorist acts” under Article 8 of the Anti-Terrorism Law of 2012. Since then, the court has repeatedly postponed their trial, most recently in January 2015. A new trial date has not yet been set.
Although the government announced a general amnesty on June 9, 2014, that covered the charges against the men, they have not been freed.
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