The Organisation for Democracy and Freedom in Syria

Alternative content

Get Adobe Flash player

Find a video

Campaigner slams Syria’s abuse of human rights lawyer

Monday, 28 June 2010

UK Government “deeply regrets” Syria’s actions

US criticises Syria’s “failure” on human rights

London-based human rights and democracy campaigner, Ribal al Assad, has slammed Syria’s decision to imprison Muhannad Al Hassani, a prominent Syrian human rights lawyer and activist. Al Hassani was imprisoned for three years by the Syrian courts for “spreading false information likely to weaken the morale of the nation”. Al Hassani is the winner of the 2010 Martin Ennals award for human rights defenders.

Ribal Al-Assad, Director of the Organisation for Democracy and Freedom in Syria, said:

"I join the British and American Governments, and Amnesty International in condemning the jailing of Muhannad Al Hassani and call on the Syrian regime to overturn his conviction and release him and all other political prisoners immediately.

“Mr Hassani's imprisonment shows that the Syrian regime does not respect basic international human rights standards for its citizens. I urge the regime to allow freedom of expression and association. This will help Syria move towards genuine democracy and freedom in a peaceful and transitional way.”

Echoing Ribal al Assad’s calls, the UK Foreign Office has said:

"The UK deeply regrets this sentence and urges the Syrian government to overturn the decision and release Al Hassani. We remain seriously concerned about the human rights situation in Syria and call on the Syrian government to fulfill all of its human rights obligations, and allow its citizens to practice the right to freedom of expression without fear of arbitrary arrest, intimidation and imprisonment.”

The U.S. Government also condemned Syria for jailing Al Hassani. Mark Toner, a spokesman for the State Department, said Al Hassani's sentencing is:

"An example of Syria's failure to comply with minimum international human rights standards."

He added that the conviction "sends a clear message to the world: Syria will not tolerate peaceful forms of freedom of expression. We call on the Syrian government to meet its responsibilities under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

Amnesty International also condemned Al Hassani's sentence and called for his release.

Amnesty International's Middle East Director Malcolm Smart said:

“Muhannad Al-Hassani should not have been on trial in the first place. He’s a prisoner of conscience who has done no more than stand up for the human rights of those who fall foul of the Syrian authorities and expose unfair trials and other abuses.”


Notes for Editors: 

The Organisation for Democracy and Freedom in Syria (ODFS) is an independent body, which promotes democracy, freedom and human rights in Syria and the Middle East.

ODFS researches and analyses current events and policy in Syria and the Middle East, and provides information to parliamentarians, civil servants, the media, think tanks, academics, students, the public and all other interested parties in Britain and around the world.

Ribal Al-Assad is the Founder and Director of The Organisation for Democracy and Freedom in Syria. He is an international campaigner for democracy, freedom and human rights. Ribal, 34, was born in Syria and has lived in the West since being exiled from his country as a child. He brings new ideas and perspectives to campaigning for democracy and freedom in Syria and the Middle East and is a regular speaker on political and human rights platforms. Ribal regularly interacts with politicians, civil servants, academics, journalists, think tanks, pro-democracy, and human rights groups all around the world.

Ribal is also Chairman of the Arabic News Network (ANN) satellite television channel, which broadcasts throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa and promotes democracy, freedom and peace in the Middle East.

Ribal is extensively involved in promoting interfaith dialogue and relations between Muslims, Jews and Christians around the globe. Over the last few years Ribal has successfully been involved in helping to tackle inter-religious and intra-religious conflict and violence in Lebanon. One of his notable achievements was to help facilitate a rapprochement between the Alawite and the Sunni Muslims in North Lebanon. 

The Organisation for Democracy and Freedom in Syria campaigns for:

- An end to the State of Emergency, in place since 1963

- A commitment to human rights for all groups, religions and minorities

- An end to corruption and the liberalization of the Syrian economy

- An end to press and internet censorship

- Greater rights for Syrian women and their greater representation in the political, economic, and social fields

- Peace in the Middle East through a two state solution with a viable, independent and democratic state of Palestine and the return of all of  the Golan Heights to Syria in a land for peace deal

- An end to extremism and violence

More news articles