On the arrests of Syrian activists
The raid In a new escalation of the attacks against freedom of expression and media work in Syria, the Office of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) in Damascus was raided on Thursday 16 February at approximately 1.30 PM by elements of the Air Intelligence (Mezze branch). The raid, that was carried out by members of the security apparatus along with a group of armed men, caused panic and terror to the staff and employees and visitors of the center, especially since the officer in charge did not disclose the arrest or search warrant issued by a public prosecutor. The security forces took the IDs of SCM employees and visitors in addition to their mobile phones. They were prevented from completing their work and asked to gather in one room until their transfer to the Air force Intelligence detention center of Mezze at 4PM.
Following are the names of staff and administrators who have been arrested:
1 – Mazen Darwish, director of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of expression.
2 – Yara Badr, Syrian journalist and the wife of Mazen Darwish.
3 – Hani Zitani, a graduate of the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Sociology and university teacher.
4 – Sana Zitani, a graduate of the Faculty of Sociology and wife Hani Zitani.
5 – Abdel Rahman Hamada, student at the Institute of Accounting.
6 – Hussein Gharir, graduate at the Faculty of Information Engineering
7 – Mansour Al Omari
8 – Joan Fersso, a graduate of the Faculty of Arabic literature.
9 – Mayada Khalil, graduate at the University of archaeology in Aleppo.
10 – Ayham Ghazoul, a dentist.
11 – Bassam Al-Ahmed, a graduate of the Faculty of Arabic literature.
12 – Razan Ghazzawi, a graduate in English literature.
13 – Rita Dayoub.
Two visitors of the SCM were also arrested, namely Shady Yazbek (student in medicine) and Hanadi Zahlout.
Release of women Women working in the center were released on Saturday 18 Feb to 2012 around 10 PM (Yara Badr – Sana Mohsen – Mayada Khalil – Razan Ghazzawi) in addition to Hanadi Zahlout. All of them have been informed that they are summoned to the Air force Security every day from 9AM to 2PM until an unspecified date. Rita Dayoub was also released.
The arrest of the President of the SCM, "Mazen Darwish," and his staff is continuing. Hani Zitani – Abdel Rahman Hamada – Gharir Hussein – Mansur Al Omari – Bassam Al-Ahmad Ayham Ghazoul – Joan Fersso, and the visitor Shady Yazbek are still in custody.
Arbitrary detention The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of expression strongly condemns the raid conducted against its office as well as the ongoing arbitrary detention of the journalist Mazen Darwish and its staff. It expresses its deepest concern regarding the fate of persons remaining in detention, demands the Syrian authorities to release all detainees immediately and unconditionally, and holds the Syrian authorities fully responsible of the psychological and physical integrity of the detainees.
The SCM calls upon the Syrian authorities to put an end to arbitrary arrests and harassment of journalists, media workers and freedom of opinion and expression advocates.
Finally, the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of expression thanks all institutions and individuals in the Arab world who have expressed solidarity with the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression for the repressive practices that targets it.