Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Basic Liberties First

The Damascus Centre for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies (DCTCRS) has been anxiously watching the accelerating events taking place in Syria since the death of late president Hafez Al Assad on June 10.

Undoubtedly, his (Al Assad’s) death was a crowning of the end of an era that kept Syria away from modern history through the confiscation of political liberties, civil rights and restricting the participation in power and decision-making to Al-Baath Arab Socialist Party (known as Al Baath Party) and the military establishment.

The end of this era and method of rule was embodied in Al Assad’s succession by his son Bashar, which dealt the final blow to the constitution that has become totally unacceptable by and unconvincing to anyone.

With this surprising step, which took the Syrian masses unawares, the concept of political legitimacy established by president Hafez Al Assad through the use of force and repression under the pretext of the conflict (state of war) with Israel as a more important national priority than the rights of Syrian citizens and internal reform was completely abolished.

In the past five years, Syria was awaiting the death of President Al Assad in the absence of any significant action for change by any political or social opposition.

The hereditary nature of power transfer in Syria and the lack of any commitment towards political reform as well as the meaningless harangue glorifying the successor (Bashar) brought the question of political legitimacy again to the limelight due to the ruling regime’s incapacity to gain recognition and its repetitive use of desperate measures to delude the masses and the elite.

Instead of stopping the confiscation of the rights of the masses to free political participation and the decision-making process, unlimited authorities were conferred upon the appointed successor, consequently turning Syria into the most backward country in the world in terms of its political system (turning a republic into a kingdom).

All these developments necessitated the holding of meetings and making of contacts with a number of democracy-supporting intellectuals and human rights activists to draw out a working plan for DCTCRS that addresses the needs of the phase and meets the requirements of DCTCRS’s cultural and combative role in serving human rights and basic liberties in Syria.

Therefore, the first decision by DCTCRS was to oppose the referendum (on Bashar’s nomination for presidency) and call for free and democratic presidential elections.

DCTCRS also invited a number of Syrian politicians and intellectuals to take part in a special edition of its “Muqarabat” magazine that would be printed and distributed on a large scale inside and outside Syria.

DCTCRS also calls on human rights activists across the world to play an active and responsible role in monitoring all human rights violations in Syria.

DCTCRS also voices its support to the proposal of Dr Haitham Manna’a, a Syrian human rights activist, related to the holding of a general national conference.

DCTCRS is ready to put all its technological and information services at the disposal of the conference’s preparatory committee.

DCTCRS also calls on participants in the conference to adopt the International Declaration of Human Rights, officially approved by Syria in 1969, as the basic reference of the conference.

The coming stage is a significant and decisive one in the contemporary history of Syria and upon which depends the formulation of Syria’s entry to the new century, therefore DCTCRS refuses to let Syria remain outside history through the continuation of the dictatorial rule and absence of liberties in Syria, summarising its demands in:

1-     Declaring a general amnesty.

2-     Lifting the state of emergency (martial laws) imposed since 1963.

3-     Drawing up a democratic constitution for the country.

4-     Allowing all political, cultural, legal and social bodies to operate freely in Syria.


In order to achieve the above objectives, DCTCRS supports the struggle of all those opposed to violence and sectarianism and those who respect the International Declaration of Human Rights and work for a democratic and free Syria.


July 10, þ2000