Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS)

SYRIAN ACTIVIST AND 18-YEAR-OLD SON AT RISK

URGENT ACTION

SYRIAN ACTIVIST AND 18-YEAR-OLD SON AT RISK

Prominent Syrian activist Walid al-Bunni and his 18-year-old
son, Mu’ayad al-Bunni, have been held in incommunicado detention since 6
August. They were arrested while they were in hiding in Damascus, Syria. They
are at serious risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

Walid al-Bunni and his two sons, Mu’ayad al-Bunni and Iyad
al-Bunni, aged 18 and 19 respectively, were arrested on 6 August by armed men
believed to be part of the Syrian Political Security forces. While Iyad
al-Bunni was later released, no information on the whereabouts of his father and
brother has been made public. A contact of Amnesty International believes that
they may be held at a Political Security branch in Damascus. The family’s
lawyer told Amnesty International that he fears Mu’ayad al-Bunni may be
subjected to torture or other ill-treatment to put pressure on his father.
There are fears too that Walid al-Bunni is at serious risk of torture or other
ill-treatment.

Amnesty International was informed that Walid al-Bunni went
into hiding with his two sons on 5 May after security forces broke into their
flat and attacked his wife’s pharmacy. Walid al-Bunni was previously detained
on at least two occasions by the Syrian authorities, in 2001 and 2007, because
of his activism in support of political reform. The family lawyer believes that
Mu’ayad al-Bunni did not take part in any of the recent public protests
demanding reform and that President Bashar al-Assad should relinquish
power. 

The Syrian authorities have not said why Walid al-Bunni and
Mu’ayad al-Bunni were arrested and have not disclosed any information about
them. Amnesty International considers it likely that Walid al-Bunni has been
detained solely because of his legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of
expression and his involvement in peaceful pro-reform protests. It is also
likely that Mu’ayad al-Bunni has been detained solely to put pressure on his
father. If this is the case, they are both prisoners of conscience and Amnesty
International calls for their immediate and unconditional release. 

Please write immediately in Arabic, English, French or your
own language:

             Express
concern that Walid and Mu’ayad al-Bunni have been held incommunicado since 6
August, putting them at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment, and ask
for their whereabouts and legal status to be revealed immediately;

             Express
concern that Walid al-Bunni may be held solely for his peaceful pro-reform
activities and that Mu’ayad al-Bunni may be held purely on account of his
family relationship to his father, in which case they are prisoners of
conscience and they should be released immediately and unconditionally;

             Urge the
authorities to ensure that Walid and Mu’ayad al-Bunni are protected from
torture and other ill-treatment, allowed immediate contact with their family
and a lawyer of their choice, and provided with any medical attention they
require.

 

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 5 OCTOBER 2011 TO:

 

President

Bashar al-Assad               

Presidential Palace

al-Rashid Street               

Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic               

Fax: +963 11 332 3410

Salutation: Your Excellency

 

Ministry of Interior

His Excellency Major General Mohamad Ibrahim al-Shaar

Minister of Interior

‘Abd al-Rahman Shahbandar Street

Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic

Fax: +963 113110554

Salutation: Your Excellency

Also send copies to:

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Walid al-Mu’allim            

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

al-Rashid Street

Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic               

Fax: +963 11 214 6251/2/3

 

 

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to
your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:

Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email
Email address Salutation Salutation               

Please check with your section office if sending appeals
after the above date.

 

URGENT ACTION

SYRIAN ACTIVIST AND 18-YEAR-OLD SON AT RISK

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Syrian security forces have been carrying out widespread
arrests in response to mass protests calling for Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad to step down, which began in mid-March 2011. The arrests have targeted
people perceived to have organized or openly supported those protests, whether
orally in public gatherings, in the media, on the internet or elsewhere. They
include journalists, political and human rights activists, and mosque imams.
The wave of arrests has forced a number of activists and journalists into
hiding.

 

Amnesty International has gathered sufficient information to
indicate that interrogators in detention facilities question detainees under
torture on whether or not they have given information about events in Syria to
regional and international media outlets. 

Walid al-Bunni was imprisoned for lengthy periods of time on
two previous occasions. He was first imprisoned for five years from 2001 to
2006 after an unfair trial before the Supreme State Security Court (SSSC) for
his activities during the "Damascus Spring", a period following
Bashar al-Assad’s accession to the presidency in July 2000 during which the
authorities tolerated previously prohibited discussion forums on political and
cultural issues. In August and September of 2001 a wave of arrests brought the
"Damascus Spring" to an end.

 

His second imprisonment was for two and a half years from 17
December 2007 to 16 June 2010 for his involvement in the Damascus Declaration
for Democratic National Change, an unauthorized coalition of political parties,
human rights organizations and pro-democracy activists, which calls for
peaceful, democratic reform and respect for human rights.

 

Amnesty International spoke with Walid al-Bunni while he was
in hiding on 21 June 2011. He mentioned then that he was focusing on
“supporting the injured, organizing the protests and encouraging the
protestors.” Although he was in hiding he delivered a speech to around 30,000
people in the town of Harasta, near Damascus, to encourage them to peacefully
protest and demand an end to the current regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
His tone was positive as he said that they were living in "a new Syria
where everyone calls for the same values.”

 

Syrian activists have also told Amnesty International that
although he did not attend it Walid al-Bunni had an instrumental role in
organizing the National Salvation Conference, a conference of Syrian opposition
activists to discuss Syria’s future which was held in Turkey in July 2011.

 

For further information on Walid al-Bunni, please see:
Amnesty International News: Syrian authorities target prominent dissident and
teenage son, 19 August 2011 http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/syrian-authorities-target-prominent-dissident-and-teenage-son-2011-08-19

 

 

Name: Walid al-Bunni and Mu’ayad al-Bunni

Gender m/f: Both m