Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘kamal labwani’

To mark Syria’s National Day, 17th April, friends and supporters of Syria’s wrongly incarcerated prisoners of conscience protested outside the Syrian Embassy at 8 Belgrave Square, in London. Between 70 and 80 people were in attendance, many of them signing a letter to the President that was delivered via Embassy officials.

Simultaneous protests mounted in Berlin, Bern, Brussels, Canberra, London, Montreal, Paris, Stockholm and Washington.

There is always a danger that in the tumult of an election we forget about those who would wish to be doing exactly as we will be able to do on May 6th: vote for those we want to represent us.

Don’t forget our friends: Kamal al-Labwani, Anwar al-Bunni, Haitham al-Maleh and Muhannad al-Hassani amongst the many, many others. We must do what they cannot and speak up for their right to be heard.

Pictures from the demonstration are below.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Read Full Post »

As Syria prepares to celebrate 64 years of independence, the European Union continues to work towards cementing relations with Syria through its EU-Syria Mediterranean Association Agreement. Maureen Thomas, however, has alerted me to a demonstration outside the Syrian Embassy to remind the world that despite its reformist rhetoric, peaceful and democratic reformers such as Kamal Labwani, Anwar Bunni, Haithem Maleh and Muhannad Hassani are still locked up on trumped-up charges in defiance of Syria’s commitments on civil and political rights.

In an email to Maureen, Iyas al-Maleh, son of imprisoned human rights champion Haitham al-Maleh, thanked her for mobilising support for the demonstration, to be held at 3pm on Saturday 17 April, 8 Belgrave Square, London, SW1X 8PH. Similar demonstrations are already planned for Brussels and Washington, with work ongoing to organise similar protests in Berlin, Geneva and Paris.

If you are a friend and supporter of Kamal, and his fellow prisoners, please see if you are free and visit the sign-up page to register:

http://sites.google.com/site/syriademo/

News of the proposed demonstration comes at the same time as the UNHCR reports that the Syrian regime continues to harass its political internees. It makes for upsetting reading and you are left wondering at the strength of men who still find the courage to defy the authorities even in Adra prison, preferring to surrender their visiting rights instead of succumbing to the indignity of being forced to meet family in prison garb.

So please see if you are free on 17 April and make a standard for freedom of conscience and human rights.

And our friends.

Kamal in prison uniform

Kamal, in prison uniform

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Read Full Post »

Kamal Labwani’s family have written to Maureen Thomas, describing the latest humiliations in Adra Prison, Damascus. Maureen’s covering comment is a timely reminder of the human frailty of our friends who have been imprisoned in Damascus: “One can only admire the prisoners’ pride, determination and courage but I worry for Haytham, Muhannad, Anwar and Kamal who still have a long time to go with no money or medication to help keep them healthy.”

The letter from Kamal’s family speaks for itself:

“We are ok actually and our father but now we are not visiting him because he asked us not to.

Him and all the prisoners of conscious in Adra prison reject to be visited because the authorities want them to wear prison pajamas during the visit and not civilian clothes or even sports pajamas as they say they want them to be equal like other prisoners.

So the prisoners of conscience rise up claiming that they should be also equal to other prisoners in other rights like their visit is not being watched and have the right to visit for two hours rather than only half an hour and other fair requests.  They say if you want us to be equal let us be equal in every single right.   It is really not a matter of wearing prison pajamas or not, they want to be treated like other prisoners.   If the authority wants them to be equal with civil prisoners they wish to be really equal.

And so now we cannot visit him because if we go he will refuse to come out and see us. We cannot give him money and provide him with medication. Not just us but the other prisoners’ families.

I would not be accurate if I called what the prisoners of conscience are doing as a strike because I really don’t know if they will end it or keep doing this until their demands are accomplished.  We really don’t know what the circumstances will bring but until now it seems that they insist to go on.

I’m sorry for this long letter. We all hope the new days will bring good news.”

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Read Full Post »

I meant to post this correspondence with Liz Lynne MEP before now. It provides some interesting information, not least of all the link to the EU’s delegation to Syria which would appear to be a useful way of staying up to date with news regarding the EU’s engagement with Syria.

Me

Dear Liz,

We’ve corresponded previously about the EU/Syria agreement (I used my personal address).

I’d be grateful if you or your office could briefly explain what the preparatory phase described in the attached link is – and what opportunity there is to raise pertinent human and civil rights concerns. The stock response when anyone in the EU is questioned about this is that engagement with Syria will promote human rights. However, no-one has yet pointed me to an example where that sort of engagement with other countries has produced a measurable improvement.

In addition, the Syrians have even indicated a readiness to sign yet. (There was also something very galling about the very earnest discussions around “civil society” at the recent Damascus conference, right at the time the Syrians are continuing to “disappear” journalists, human rights lawyers and opposition activists.)

Your advice would be much appreciated – together with contact details for anyone you think I might appropriately contact.

Best wishes,

Ben

(Writing in a personal capacity, rather than as Secretary to the Parliamentary Party)

Liz Lynne

Dear Ben,

Thank you for your further correspondence regarding the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement with Syria. The preparatory phase is part of the conciliation procedure which is used in the formulation of this Agreement This process, in part, requires consent from the European Parliament, which currently has not been given.

The provisions of the European Union’s Association Agreement with Syria are the prerequisite for full European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) status, but signature and full participation only come about once a number of steps have been adhered to. The aim of the agreement with Syria is to support economic and political reforms in the region. This process requires dialogue on human rights, democracy, terrorism and nuclear non-proliferation. The EU advocates engagement and diplomacy as the best way to do this, particularly in relation to reforming human rights.

However, the EU can also deny engagement and put on hold its support to instigate human rights reformation. For example, the EU’s decision to suspend the upgrading of its Association Agreement with Israel means that the expansion of trade and economic relations in the region have been delayed. Consequently an upgrade to the Agreement, thus further engagement, is unlikely to occur until Israel increases its efforts to abide by international law.    

In order to stay up to date with the latest bilateral and regional developments in EU-Syrian relations I suggest viewing the website of the Delegation of the European Union to Syria. A link to the site can be found here: 

http://www.delsyr.ec.europa.eu/en/index.asp.

You can also contact the Delegation directly via email on 

delegation-syria@ec.europa.eu.

Thank you again for your correspondence and I hope this information is useful to you.

Kind regards,

Liz Lynne MEP

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Read Full Post »

Alkarama have reported that Ma’an Aqil and Abdul Rahman Koki have been freed by the Syrian government within days of each other.

Aqil, a journalist in Damascus, was arrested on 22 November 2009 and was detained arbitrarily for three months (I blogged about his detention in December). Alkarama report that he was released Tuesday 23 February 2010.

Yesterday, Alkarama reported that Abdul Rahman Koki was released on Tuesday 16 February 2010, following a presidential pardon.

In both cases Alkarama had referred the cases to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Reporters Sans Frontières also report that two other journalists, Ali Taha and Ali Ahmed, have also been released after weeks of arbitrary detention.

Whilst being cautious not to overstate the significance of these releases, they offer a faint glimmer of hope in so far as the Syrian regime appears willing to free individuals who have clearly been prepared to challenge the government domestically and, in Koki’s case, be directly critical of  it. As Alkarama notes, we must take this opportunity to remind the Syrian authorities of their responsibility towards international human rights law and urge them to release all prisoners of conscience, including Kamal al-Labwani, Hytham al-Maleh and Anwar al-Bunni.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Read Full Post »

Since Kamal was illegally imprisoned by the Syrian regime in Adra Prison, in 2005, numerous of our democratically elected representatives have raised his plight in our national and international parliaments. I have trawled through the websites of the UK Parliament and the European Parliament to consolidate the various representations in one place. I have also linked again to the petition running on the Number 10 website.

Some of you may wonder why I bother.

To some, Kamal is just one more unfortunate political progressive caught on the wrong side of an unreconstructed Middle Eastern dictator.

Not to me.

I bother because he is an artist, a philosopher, a radical and a Liberal.

Most of all, though, I bother because he is my friend.

Please take a look at this parliamentary archives page and be grateful for our own freedoms and democracy.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Read Full Post »

I don’t suppose I am alone in not paying much attention to what our representatives say in the European Parliament.

It is a mistake not to. Trawling through the archives I found the text of a debate from September last year in which the cases of Muhannad Al-Hassani, Kamal Al-Labwani and Anwar Al-Bunni are all referenced.
Take a moment to read it and realise that there is a point to what these people do – and we should be supporting them in their efforts.

Kamal, Anwar and Muhannad need us to.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: