Syrian Government Censorship Reaches Protesters and Intellectuals Overseas

by    /  October 14, 2011  / No comments

The Long Reach of Mukhabaraat

Syrian protesters in the Americas and in Europe have been monitored and harassed by embassy officials and others, according to a report released by Amnesty International.

The October 3 report, titled The Long Reach of Mukhabaraat after the name of the Syrian secret police, compiles cases of more than 30 Syrian activists in eight countries (Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the USA) who report facing harassment and violence believed to stem from the Syrian regime. In addition many of the families of activists have faced harassment, detention, and even torture from within Syria as part of a governmental campaign to combat protesting overseas.

Among writers that have been persecuted is British-based protester and journalist Ghias Aljundi. Aljundi told The Guardian that in June he was called on his mobile phone by someone claiming to be from the Syrian embassy. “He said, ‘Don’t think you are protected. We can get you anyway. It’s better for you to stop what you are doing. You are a traitor,’” Aljundi said. Though Aljundi admits that the call was discomforting, he continues to protest the Syrian regime from afar through demonstrations and by working with Amnesty International.

Ghias Aljundi

Journalist Ghias Aljundi. Photo: Mark Oliver, The Guardian

Even before Amnesty International reported on abuses toward protesters abroad, many Syrian writers inside and outside the country issued a declaration denouncing violence toward protesters and calling on Syrian intellectuals “who have not broken the barrier of fear to make a clear stand,” according to Lebanon Wire, a news publication based in Beirut. The declaration was released on April 25, 2011.

The declaration was signed by 102 writers and journalists both in Syria and in exile, among them former political prisoner Loay Hussein; female writers Samar Yazbek and Hala Mohammad; Souad Jarrous, correspondent for al-Sharq al-Awsat pan-Arab daily; writer and former political prisoner Yassin al-Haj Saleh; and filmmaker Mohammad Ali al-Attassi.

Further reading:

Campaign to Silence Syrian Protesters Overseas Revealed (Amnesty International)

Syria (Amnesty International)

Syrian Protesters in UK Report Threats (Index on Censorship)

Fears for Syrian journalist and activist (AlJazeera)

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