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Appeal to help arrested members of the Committee of the Families of Prisoners of Opinion and Conscience
SYRIA Yassin al-Hamwi (m), aged about 60, shopkeeper, founding member of the Committee of the Families of Prisoners of Opinion and Conscience
Muhammad 'Ali al-'Abdullah (m), law student, founding member of the Committee of the Families of Prisoners of Opinion and Conscience

Prisoners of conscience Yassin al-Hamwi and Muhammad 'Ali al- 'Abdullah are now known to have been held first at the Political Security Detention Centre in Damascus, and moved from there to 'Adra prison, near Damascus. They are known have been allowed at least one visit each from family members, but it is not known whether they have been tortured.

They are reportedly to be tried by a military court on charges of "establishing a secret society" and "defamation of the public administration". Trials before military courts are not independent or impartial. In many cases defendants appear to be presumed guilty, and their rights to present a defence and have legal representation are not respected.

Yassin al-Hamwi and Muhammad 'Ali al-'Abdullah are leading members of a newly-established support group, the Committee of the Families of Prisoners of Opinion and Conscience. They were arrested by the security forces on 26 and 27 July respectively, after they took part in the first meeting of this organisation, on 25 July, in the town of Darya, near Damascus. (See public statement MDE 24/055/2005, 27 July 2005, Syria: Amnesty International concerned at arrests of members of the Committee of the Families of Prisoners of Opinion and Conscience).

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English, Arabic, French or your own language: - expressing concern that Yassin al-Hamwi and Muhammad 'Ali al- 'Abdullah are to be tried by a military court, whose proceedings fall far short of international standards for fair trial;

  • calling on the authorities to release both men immediately and unconditionally, as they are prisoners of conscience, detained solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression;
  • welcoming the news that the men have been allowed visits from their families and urging the authorities to ensure that while they are in custody they continue to receive family visits and are allowed unrestricted access to lawyers of their choice and to any medical care they may require;

  • seeking assurances that Yassin al-Hamwi and Muhammad 'Ali al- 'Abdullah are not being tortured or ill-treated, and reminding the authorities that they acceded to the Convention against Torture in 2004.

APPEALS TO(Time difference = GMT + 2 hrs / BST + 1 hrs):

      His Excellency President Bashar al-Assad
      President of the Republic
      Presidential Palace
      Abu Rummaneh, Al-Rashid Street
      Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
      Fax: 00 963 11 332 3410
      [Salutation: Your Excellency]

      His Excellency General Ghazi Kan'an
      Minister of Interior, Ministry of Interior
      Merjeh Circle
      Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
      Fax 00 963 11 222 3428
      Email: admin@civilaffair-moi.gov.sy
      [Salutation: Your Excellency ]

      His Excellency Muhammad al-Ghafari
      Minister of Justice
      Ministry of Justice
      Al-Nasr Street
      Damascus
      Syrian Arab Republic
      Fax: 00 963 11 222 3428
      [Salutation: Your Excellency]

PLEASE SEND COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO: His Excellency Mr Mouafak Nassar, Embassy of Syrian Arab Republic, 8 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PH. Fax: 020 7235 4621 Email:embassy500@netscapeonline.co.uk

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Please do not send appeals after 20 September 2005.

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All information is Copyright 1997 - 2006 'Foreign Prisoner Support Service' unless stated otherwise - Click here for the legal stuff