Saturday, April 16, 2011

Syria's teenaged prisoners of conscience

[Read this gut wrenching story about teenage prisoner in Syria. Again how anyone can actually defend this despicable regime in the name of anything is perplexing. The day this mafia is overthrown is a glorious day for everyone. Their crimes against Syrians/Palestinians and Lebanese people are unforgivable]

The youngest known convicted prisoner of conscience in the world is a Syrian citizen. Her name is Tal al-Mallouhi, and she has been in prison since she was seventeen years old.
And now, three years later, it is horrifyingly obvious that Syria does not have a problem sweeping up schoolchildren and traumatising them for life.

Three weeks ago in Daraa, a fifteen-year-old, a sixteen-year-old, and thirty-eight children who are ten years old were forcibly hauled from their classrooms. They were taken to a notorious military intelligence detention centre called the Palestine Branch.

There was news of their release, but their families have stated that the news was false. And that is not all. Last week fifteen teenagers were arrested for writing anti-government graffiti on walls in Daraa.
"The people want the fall of the regime!" they wrote. They are accused of being solely responsible for igniting the turmoil in their city.

Then, in Madaya, a suburb of Damascus, the capital, four seventeen-year-olds, were arrested for spraying anti-government graffiti. They were handcuffed and taken from their classrooms. Their whereabouts are unknown.
'A drop in the cloud'

Will these children be the newest prisoners of conscience? To provide some context, Tal al-Mallhoui's story must be told. On December 27, 2009, she was forced from her home by Syrian state security officials.

"She was detained," an anonymous Syrian official said, "On the accusation of spying for a foreign country."
Another official said, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, "She was accused of espionage and sending information to the American embassy in Egypt through her blog."

What kind of information can a seventeen-year-old girl send a foreign government through a blog? What Tal had done, in fact, was to post poems and essays that focused on the suffering of the Palestinians, restrictions on freedom of expression, and her hope for peace in the Middle East.
Here is an illustration of Tal's poetry:

You Will Remain an Example
(In reference to Gandhi)
I will walk with all walking people
And no
I will not stand still
Just to watch the passers by
This is my Homeland
In which
I have
A palm tree
A drop in the cloud
And a grave to protect me

Two days after Mallhoui's arrest, state security officers raided her family's home in Homs, about a hundred miles north of Damascus. Her computer, computer disks, notebooks, personal documents, and a mobile phone were confiscated.

Tal al-Mallouhi was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. The verdict of the state security court is final and cannot be challenged. The schoolgirl, Tal, is in solitary confinement. She is not allowed visitors, even from her family or a lawyer.

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