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UN experts call for release of Syrian rights activists

Published on 21/02/2012

UN independent experts on Tuesday condemned the arrest of prominent Syrian human rights activists, voicing fears they may be subjected to torture and ill treatment.

Security forces raided the offices of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) on Thursday and arrested at least 16 people, including its director.

Their arrest and detention appears to be directly linked to the SCM’s activities in the defence of human rights, four UN special rapporteurs said in a statement.

“The Syrian authorities should end all acts of harassment against human rights defenders and release all those arbitrarily arrested and detained,” the group said.

“All persons present in the centre, including its director, Mazen Darwich, blogger Razan Ghazawi, and at least 14 other persons, were reportedly arrested, blindfolded and taken to Al Jawiya in Mezza airport,” they said.

“I fear that Mr Darwich and other persons arrested may be at serious risk of torture or ill treatment,” added rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez.

“I am deeply concerned about their physical and mental well-being particularly in the current context of the ongoing violence in Syria.”

The raid came on the day the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution condemning the violent crackdown in Syria.

Human rights lawyer Anwar Bunni said on Tuesday that Syrian authorities had freed Ghazzawi and six other women activists arrested last week.