Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS)

Syrian reporter freed, no news of brother

Syrian reporter ‘ Adel Walid Kharsa was released on 9 January 2011 after over two months in incommunicado detention following his arrest in the city of Hama, central Syria, on 31 October 2011. His brother, ‘Imad Walid Kharsa, appears to have been subjected to enforced disappearance and is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

According to the men’s family, ‘Adel Walid Kharsa was initially detained in Hama but was later moved to the State Security-run detention centre known as Branch 285 in Damascus, Syria’s capital. He had spent two months there after an earlier arrest on 17 August 2011. Amnesty International’s source states that he was brought before a judge prior to his release but was not given access to a lawyer before or during the hearing. The family has no further information on the accusations against him, but it appears that all charges against him have been dropped.

Amnesty International was informed that ‘Adel Walid Kharsa stated that he was tortured or otherwise ill-treated and described his detention conditions as “terrible”. He continues to suffer from health problems, including a skin condition, believed to be connected to his detention.

His family have not received any news from the authorities about the fate of ‘Imad Walid Kharsa since his arrest in Hama on 24 August 2011. However, information from unofficial sources has led them to believe that he, too, may have been held at Branch 285 in Damascus for at least some of the time since his arrest. His whereabouts remain unknown and he appears to have been subjected to enforced disappearance. Given reports that he may have been injured during his arrest, and what his brother has said about his detention conditions, Amnesty International is gravely concerned for ‘Imad Walid Kharsa’s safety, particularly since an extremely high number of deaths in custody have been reported since March 2011.

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

Expressing concern that ‘Imad Walid Kharsa is being held incommunicado in conditions that amount to enforced disappearance, and urging the Syrian authorities to immediately inform his family as to his whereabouts, the reason for his arrest and his legal status;

Urging the authorities to ensure that he is protected from torture and other ill-treatment, given immediate access to his family and lawyer of his choice, and provided with all necessary medical attention;

Calling on the authorities to release him immediately, if he is not to be charged with an internationally recognizable criminal offence and tried according to international fair trial standards.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 14 MARCH 2012 TO :

President
Bashar al-Assad
Presidential Palace
al-Rashid Street
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: +963 11 332 3410
Salutation: Your Excellency
Minister of Interior
His Excellency Major General Mohamad Ibrahim al-Shaar
Minister of Interior
‘Abd al-Rahman Shahbandar Street
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: +963 11 311 0554
Salutation: Your Excellency
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Walid al-Mu’allim
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
al-Rashid Street
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Fax: +963 11 214 6251/6252/6253
Salutation: Your Excellency

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. This is the second update of UA 252/11. Further information: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE24/078/2011/en

URGENT ACTION
SYRIAN REPORTER FREED, NO NEWS OF BROTHER
Additional Information
Pro-reform demonstrations began in Syria in February 2011 and evolved into mass protests in mid-March. 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 4,700 people reported to have died or been killed during, or in connection with, the protests and unrest. 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 and others who have taken up arms against the government.

Thousands of people have been arrested, with many held incommunicado at unknown locations at which torture and other ill-treatment are reported to be rife. Over 250 people are reported to have died in custody in highly suspicious circumstances since 1 April 2011 (for more information, see Amnesty International, Deadly detention: Deaths in custody amid popular protest in Syria, Index: MDE 24/035/2011, 31 August 2011, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE24/035/2011/en.

The Syrian state has multiple security and intelligence agencies in addition to even more opaque groups, often armed but not necessarily uniformed, who also carry out abductions, killings and other abuses in apparent coordination with, or at least approval of, state officials. Amnesty International has also received reports of armed individuals threatening, abusing and, in some cases, killing people perceived to be linked to or supportive of the state.

Amnesty International has documented extensively crimes against humanity and other human rights violations committed by the Syrian security forces since March 2011 and has called repeatedly for the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Syria and an assets freeze on President Bashar al-Assad and others involved in ordering or perpetrating serious human rights violations.

Name: ‘Adel Walid Kharsa; ‘Imad Walid Kharsa
Gender m/f: both male