Saturday, April 28, 2012

Detained Syrian human rights defenders report torture

27 April 2012

"Concern is growing for three human rights defenders being held incommunicado at a military base near Damascus, amid reports they may be facing ongoing torture, Amnesty International said.

Hani Zitani, Abd al-Rahman Hamada and Mansour al-Omari are being held in the town of al-Mo’damiya outside the capital, at a base run by the Fourth Armoured Division, under the de facto command of the Syrian president’s brother Maher al-Assad.

Another three of their colleagues detained with them there from 19 March until 22 April were brought before a military court on Sunday, where they alleged that Fourth Armoured Division officials had tortured, including by beatings, all six men during that time.

The six men – prisoners of conscience accused of “having an illegal recording with a view to distribute banned publications” – were among 14 men and women arrested in February during a security forces raid on the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression in Damascus.

“Until now, very little information has been available about the well-being of these human rights defenders held since February’s raid,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

“Given the seriousness of these new allegations, we urge the authorities to give the detainees immediate access to adequate medical care if needed and ensure they are protected from torture or other ill-treatment....."

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