(Paris, March 14, 2014) – A new website, http://www.free-syrian-voices.org, being launched today by a group of international human rights groups, including Amnesty International, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Front Line Defenders, Human Rights Watch, and Reporters Without Borders, hopes to shed light on the plight of Syrian civil society activists including human rights defenders, media, and humanitarian workers who have been targeted for their work or peaceful activism.
Since the Syrian crisis began three years ago, they have continually been arrested or abducted by government forces, pro-government militias, or non-state armed groups. The website will showcase 37 emblematic cases, a mere fraction of those targeted, and others will be documented in the coming weeks.
“Thousands of civilians have been arrested, abducted, subjected to enforced disappearance, tortured or otherwise ill-treated, and sometimes killed merely for exercising their fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and association, or for providing basic medical care to the sick and wounded, and humanitarian assistance to civilians. Their dedication should not be in vain. We must continue to amplify their voices and act for their release,” declared the NGOs at the launch of this project.
The fate of many of them remains unknown. Through free-syrian-voices.org, the organizations will campaign on behalf of these activists and call for their release.
Where is the lawyer Razan Zaitouneh held? How many more times will the journalist Mazen Darwich’s court session be postponed? Where is the human rights lawyer Khalil Ma'touq? Why was the doctor Mohamed Bachir Arab arrested? Where has the Kurdish writer Hussein ‘Essou been detained for the past two-and-a-half years? Why was the activist Samira Khalil abducted? “These activists have done courageous work. Let's not allow them to be silenced and let's not forget them,” said the organizations supporting the campaign.
Free-syrian-voices.org is available in English and will be regularly updated. Arabic and Russian versions of the website will be available soon.
A message calling for the release of all persons arbitrarily detained or abducted in Syria will be sent via Thunderclap on April 17, the anniversary date of Syrian independence.