Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS)

Syrian Student at risk of torture in detention


Syrian student Suhaib al-Ammar was arrested on 18 November by officials of Air Force Intelligence, one of Syria’s security police agencies, near Daraya, close to the Syrian capital of Damascus. Since then he has been detained incommunicado at an unknown location, prompting serious fears for his safety as his life has previously been threatened by the security forces.

Suhaib al-Ammar, aged 22, travelled from Damascus to Daraya to visit his sister and five-month old niece but when he arrived at his sister\’s home, he had a blindfold around his neck and was accompanied by two armed men, believed to be Air Force Intelligence officials, who repeatedly slapped on his face and neck and did not permit him to speak to his sister.

The security officials reportedly asked Suhaib al-Ammar’s sister about her husband, who is in hiding after receiving threats from the security forces because of his participation in pro-reform activism, and first threatened to detain her daughter then told her to contact her husband telling him to turn himself in or else they would “bring your brother’s dead body in two days”.

As far as is known, no charges have been brought against Suhaib al-Ammar. He had attended some pro-reform protests in Damascus but it appears that the main or sole reason for his detention may be to put pressure on his sister’s husband to surrender himself to the authorities; if so, Amnesty International would consider him a prisoner of conscience and call for his immediate and unconditional release. In recent months, other individuals are known to have been detained by Syrian security officials apparently because of their relatives’ involvement in pro-reform activities in order to punish such involvement and as a “bargaining chip” to obtain the arrest of the wanted activist.

Please write immediately in Arabic, English, French or your own language:
             Expressing concern that Suhaib al-Ammar appears to be a prisoner of conscience, detained solely on account of the pro-reform activism of his sister’s husband, in which case he should be released immediately and unconditionally;
             Urging the Syrian authorities to immediately clarify the reason, legal basis and place of detention of Suhaib al-Ammar; to cease holding him incommunicado and allow him immediate access to his family, legal counsel of his own choosing, and any medical attention he may require; and to ensure that he is protected against torture or other ill-treatment.


Bashar al-Assad               
Presidential Palace
Al-Rashid Street              
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic               
Fax: +963 11 332 3410
Salutation: Your Excellency


Minister of Interior
Major General Mohamed Ibrahim al-Sha’aar     
Ministry of Interior
‘Abd al-Rahman Shahbandar Street        
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: +963 113 110 554
Salutation: Your Excellency


And copies to:
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates
Walid al-Mu’allim            
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates
Al-Rashid Street
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic               
Fax: +963 11 214 625 12 / or 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.

Pro-reform demonstrations began in Syria in February 2011 and evolved into mass protests in mid-March. The protests have been largely peaceful, yet the Syrian authorities have responded in the most brutal manner in their efforts to suppress them. Amnesty International has obtained the names of more than 3,200 people reported to have died or been killed during or in connection with the protests since mid-March. Many are believed to have been shot by security forces using live ammunition while participating in peaceful protests or attending funerals of people killed in earlier protests. Members of the security forces have also been killed, some by defecting members of the army who have taken up arms against the government.

Thousands of other people have been arrested, with many held incommunicado at unknown locations at which torture and other ill-treatment are reported to be rife. Following an action plan agreed with the League of Arab States on 30 October 2011, the Syrian authorities pledged on 2 November to withdraw its troops from restive cities, free prisoners held in connection with the current events, and start talks with opposition groups.  However, arrests of protesters and perceived supporters of the protests have continued since.

Over 150 people are reported to have died in detention in highly suspicious circumstances since 1 April. Some of the dead, who include children, were also mutilated either before or after death in particularly grotesque ways apparently intended to strike terror into the families to whom their corpses were returned.

Suhaib al-Ammar is originally from Dera’a, a town in southern Syria, but he currently studies English literature at university in Damascus. Prior to his arrest, he regularly visited his sister and her family and according to his family, on 18 November he had planned to visit to do some laundry as he does not own a washing machine. Suhaib al-Ammar reportedly attended pro-reform demonstrations sporadically and was previously detained for two weeks in relation to this in April before being released without charge. He later told his family that he was subjected to beatings on his feet and head during this time.

Suhaib al-Ammar’s father, Dr Mohamed al-Ammar, from Dera’a, has also been detained on three occasions since the start of the unrest in Syria in mid-March. He was released on 21 November following a two-month detention. Reportedly, he was a signatory to the Damascus Declaration for Democratic National Change (DDDNC), an unauthorized umbrella grouping comprising opposition and pro-democracy groups in Syria. His family believes that his recent detentions were due to his activities with the Syrian opposition.

Name: Suhaib al-Ammar
Gender m/f: male