London: Syria embassy protest to call for release of 'Sednaya Seven'
Amnesty International is staging a demonstration outside the Syrian embassy in London tomorrow (Saturday 17 April) calling for the release of prisoners of conscience in the country.
The protest, coinciding with Syrian Independence Day, includes a call for the release of seven men (the “Sednaya Seven”) jailed for discussing democracy online. The seven - Maher Ibrahim, Tareq Ghorani, Husam 'Ali Mulhim, Ayham Saqr, 'Alam Fakhour, 'Omar 'Ali al-'Abdullah and Diab Sirieyeh - were jailed in June 2007 after an unfair trial before Syria’s Supreme State Security Court.
Their “crime” was to have published and discussed pro-democracy articles on the internet, including within a youth discussion group. The men, all in their mid-twenties or thirties, were punished with five-year jail terms, except Ibrahim and Ghorani, who were imprisoned for seven years. They are all held at the Sednaya Military Prison, near Damascus, where conditions are harsh.
Amnesty International Syria Country Coordinator Ellis Brooks said:
“Our demonstration today is a message to the Syrian authorities that we will not keep quiet while Syria’s prisons are holding people like the ‘Sednaya Seven’.
“We’re calling on President Bashar Assad to release all prisoners of conscience and to initiate immediate human rights reforms. Until he does that, we’ll keep speaking out time and time again.”
The Saturday protest, also supported by the Syrian Human Rights Committee, will see activists gather at the Syrian embassy in central London from 3pm. Similar events are also set to take place on 17 April in other countries, including Belgium, France and the United States.