Detained Syrian human rights defenders report torture
27 April 2012
Concern is growing for three human rights defenders being held incommunicado at a military base near Damascus, amid reports they may be facing ongoing torture, Amnesty International said.
Hani Zitani, Abd al-Rahman Hamada and Mansour al-Omari are being held in the town of al-Mo’damiya outside the capital, at a base run by the Fourth Armoured Division, under the de facto command of the Syrian president’s brother Maher al-Assad.
Another three of their colleagues detained with them there from 19 March until 22 April were brought before a military court on Sunday, where they alleged that Fourth Armoured Division officials had tortured, including by beatings, all six men during that time.
The six men – prisoners of conscience accused of “having an illegal recording with a view to distribute banned publications” – were among 14 men and women arrested in February during a security forces raid on the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression in Damascus. (…)
The latest news about the detained human rights activists in Damascus comes as armed clashes and shelling continue in cities across Syria, despite the presence of UN observers deployed as part of a 12 April agreement brokered by the Arab League-UN envoy, Kofi Annan.
Earlier this week Annan’s spokesperson said that people who interact with the UN observers apparently risk being “harassed or arrested or even worse, perhaps killed” by Syrian security forces.
Amnesty International is particularly concerned by recent reports about violence intensifying in Syrian cities soon after visits by UN observers. The organization has received the names of 362 individuals reported to have been killed since UN observers began work in Syria on 16 April. (…)
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