Saturday, March 9, 2013

Solitary confinement, denial of health care to Syrian human rights lawyer is appalling!

A March 9, 2013 news release by the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), an organization that advocates for human rights in the Middle East, reports that Khalil Matouk, a Syrian human rights lawyer is being cut off from communication and detained. He is also being prevented from receiving medical care for a lung disease. He is being detained at State Security Branch 285 in Kafr Soussa, Damascus, although the Syrian government has denied this. Matouk's lung disease decreases his lung capacity by 60%. He is also being denied medicine, which he took on a regular basis before he was detained to improve his health.

Matouk has been detained for over 149 days, even though Syrian law only allows someone to be detained for up to 60 days for investigation purposes. When Matouk's 60 day detention period has passed, a group of Syrian lawyers wrote to the Attorney General in Damascus demanding Matouk's release. The Attorney General stated that Matouk is not being detained, even though other former detainees have confirmed seeing him in State Security Branch 285 over the past month. The GCHR is concerned that Matouk is enduring a forced disappearance. Other lawyers and his own family have been barred from seeing him, and the Attorney General's recent statement that he is not being detained by the Syrian government has caused the GCHR to be concerned about Matouk's health and safety.

The GCHR is concerned that Matouk is being cut off from communication and detained because of his work as a human rights activist and lawyer, and asks the Syrian government to release him immediately.

As the human rights disaster in Syria continues to unfold, the latest report of Khalil Matouk's forced disappearance is even more of a reason for the international community to pressure the Syrian government to release all innocent victims from prison, and bring the Syrian government to justice for war crimes. The evidence of human rights violations in Syria is there, and one does not need to look hard to find it. The longer Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is allowed to remain in power, the longer Syrians will be trapped in a political crisis. Instead of arming the rebels and creating more violence and displacement, take president Bashar al-Assad to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and have him tried for human rights violations. Once he is there, keep him imprisoned for life. Any country that continues to support Bashar al-Assad should also be punished for supporting human rights violations. The Syrians have suffered more than enough--don't prolong their suffering by sending in more weapons and fueling more violence and displacement!

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