Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

A non-governmental research and human rights center and a member in the Euro-Mediterranean Network for Human Rights


“Release political prisoners and close Tadmur Prison”

The Damascus Center for Theoretical Studies and Civil Rights follows with concern the conditions of political detainees in the Syrian prisons, whose number today exceeds 1800. A great number of these detainees were sent to trial and were sentenced to death or life imprisonment under the charge of being members of the illegal Muslim Brotherhood movement. Others, however, were sent to prison without trial. The authorities also sought to readjust the conditions of a significant number of detainees, aligned to secular political parties. They sent them to the exceptional State Security Court between 1992 and 1997, which passed brute sentences against peaceful political oppositionists. Sometimes, the sentences surpassed 15 years in prison, only for alignment to a banned political organization. For instance, Dr Abdel Aziz al-Khir was sent to prison for 22 years for his leading position in the communist labor party, while the secretary general of the Syrian communist party, Ryadh al-Turk has not even received the benefit of a trial for 17 years.

On the other hand, those who remained alive from the Arab Communist Organization have spent 25 years in prison, including Emad Shiha and Haytham Naal,Fares Mourad, while five leading members of the organization were executed in 1975. Moreover, our colleague, Nazar Nyouf, is still in prison for consecutive nine years on the charge of defending human rights and democratic freedoms.

There are other five communist detainees in the notorious Tadmur prison. They are suffering under the inhuman conditions, prevailing there. The five prisoners include, Ammar Rezq,Abdullah Qubara, Noeman Abdu, Omar al-Hayek, Gris al-Talli, Mazen Shamsin, and Mahmoud Eissa. Moreover, we have recently received a notice from an Islamic female prisoner, who reported that several women in the Tadmur prison were raped with two of them became pregnant.

The above only represent the top of an iceberg, despite the repeated promises and rumours on releasing detainees. The number of released prisoners has not exceeded 34 prisoners since the death of former President Hafez Asad, while the number of new detainees in on the rise. The detainees from the city of Qudsia, who were arrested after the authorities found a smashed statue for Hafez Asad in their city, have not been released yet.

The Damascus Center, therefore, urges all Arab and International non-governmental organizations to intervene for an end to arbitrary detention in Syria and the immediate closure of Tadmur Prison. During the previous few years, many books and testimonies have been published on the tragic conditions in this notorious prison. There is no justification for this prison to remain, unless for terrorizing people and political activists.


September 21, 2000