(Damascus—Aafaq) - On Monday, Syrian authorities barred the head of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria, Dr. Ammar Qurabi, from traveling to Jordan to participate in a symposium on human rights and politics. [Full Story in Arabic]
In a statement obtained by Aafaq, the National Organization for Human Rights said that “this ban is not based on any judicial order,” and that “preventing our colleague Qurabi and his companions from traveling is a violation of the law and the constitution,” for the reason that the ban did not issue from the courts, but from the security apparatuses without explanation.
The Organization referred to Article 33 of the Syrian constitution, the letter of which stipulates that citizens have the right of travel and movement, if no judicial order has been issued preventing them from doing so. And the Organization expressed its view that the travel ban is a punitive measure that the Syrian authorities have resorted to against these prominent activists who are fighting in defense of the rights of Syrian citizens.
The Organization demanded that the “Syrian authorities rescind the travel restrictions on all Syrians without exception,” adding that “the security agencies’ lists of those prohibited to travel have undergone expansion and inflation.”
The statement continued with a list of prominent Syrians recently barred from travel. “In recent days the authorities have banned travel by Engineer Rasim Al-Sayed Suleiman, head of the Arab Organization for Human Rights in Syria, who tried to travel to Turkey to participate in an international Forum on Jerusalem; they prevented the lawyers, Mustafa Osso, head of the Kurdish Organization for the Defense of Rights, Radif Mustafa, head of the Kurdish Delegation for Human Rights, and Hasan Mashu, member of the Board of Trustees of the Organization of Human Rights in Syria from making their trip to Cairo to attend a workshop sponsored by the International Federation for Human Rights in cooperation with the Cairo Center for Human Rights Studies, turning them back at Damascus International Airport.”
“The authorities also prevented the attorney Cirène Khoury, who is active in defense of prisoners of conscience, from traveling to Jordan, and prohibited the student Mustafa Al-Haid from traveling abroad for study in compliance with communication No. 33921 Date 07-08-2007 issued by the Political Security Branch in Aleppo, which led to Al-Haid to file a lawsuit in the Administrative Court in Damascus, reg. no. 9927 for 2007, against the Minister of the Interior.”
Syria Blocks the website “Facebook”
And in a second security action, on Sunday, Syrian authorities blocked access to the internationally popular social networking site “Facebook,” which allows users to put up “profile” pages with personal information and communicate with “friends” and form groups of “friends” anywhere in the world. The government’s action outraged many Syrians (especially the youth).
While no reason or justification for the ban was offered by the government, media sources acquainted with surveillance suggested that the reason was the government’s fear of potential Israeli penetration of Syrian ”friends” groups that have been formed by Syrian Facebook members.
For some time now the Ministry of Communications has acted in conjunction with the security agencies to block access from inside Syria to certain internet sites. Persons using the Syrian network to access the internet cannot then access a blocked site, except through the use of special programs that are illegal. These programs have been used to access other blocked internet sites from Syria – an increasingly long list, among them “Aafaq”, which Syrian authorities added to the list of banned sites earlier this year.