Severe Sentences Against Democratic Youth Activists

On 17/6/2007, the exceptional State Security Court (SSSC) issued severe sentences on seven youths whom had been arrested over a year ago, simply due to practising their right to peaceful expression of their opinions.

The court sentenced Tariq al-Ghawrani and Maher Isber to seven years in prison, accusing them of exposing the state to hostile actions and stripping away its grandeur. Omar Abdullah, Hossam Melhem, Ayham Saqr, Allam Fakhoor and Diyaab Seriyah were sentenced to five years in prison, accused of exposing the state to hostile actions.

The Syrian Human Rights Committee (SHRC) considers the sentences issued by the SSSC as unconstitutional due to being issued by an exceptional and unauthorised body which has continued to issue repressive security sentences since its formation in the late 1960s. 

SHRC also points out that the Syrian Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech and peaceful democratic gathering, which therefore means that the verdicts issued against the detainees do not represent justice, but rather the repressive and despotic authority that punishes its citizens for practising their constitutional and legal rights.

Therefore, SHRC categorizes the seven detainees as prisoners of conscience and calls upon the Syrian Authorities to release them and all prisoners of conscience and political prisoners immediately, as well as to put an end to all arbitrary arrests and to close down the SSSC.

Background Information:

Tariq al-Ghawrani (engineer assistant- born 1985) and Maher Ibrahim Isber (Shop Owner- 1980) were arrested on 19/2/2006. Later, Hossam Melhem (Law Student-1985), Ayham Saqr (employee at beauty salon- 1975) and Allam Fakhoor (Art Student/ Sculpture branch-1979) were arrested on 24/2/2006.  Omar Abdullah (Philosophy Student- 1985) and Diyaab Seriyah (university student- 1985) were arrested on 18/3/2006 due to taking part in democratic independent youth activities and circulating internet articles. They all were held in absolute isolation from the world especially as their families were denied their right to visit them or to know the place of their imprisonment. News that they were subjected to torture and degrading treatment has also been reported.

Most Syrian human rights organisations reported and followed up their cases and called for their release. Thereafter, many international human rights organisations adopted them as prisoners of conscience and calling for their release. The Syrian Authorities however have not responded and transferred them to the SSSC which sentenced them today to prison terms ranging between seven and five years in prison, as mentioned above.

Syrian Human Rights Committee