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Syria: Primary school teacher at risk of torture

Amnesty issues call to its 2.2m members to help Mahmoud al-Najjar

Amnesty International today launched an urgent appeal for Mahmoud al-Najjar, a primary school teacher from Syria, who was arrested last week.

The 48-year-old has a chronic lung infection, joint pain and a slipped disc. His whereabouts are unknown, and he is in grave danger of torture.

He was arrested on 16 June at his house in Aleppo city by State Security agents, who also confiscated political publications.

The Syrian authorities have given no reason for his arrest. However, Mahmoud al-Najjar was known to have been at a meeting of the pro-democracy umbrella group Damascus Declaration for Democratic National Change (DDDNC) on 1 December 2007.

Twelve other people who attended the meeting have all been detained. Eleven are being held in harsh conditions at 'Adra prison, near Damascus, while the 12th is being held at a Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights's prison in Douma near Damascus.

Amnesty International UK Director, Kate Allen, said:

“Amnesty International is very concerned about the safety and well being of Mahmoud al-Najjar. We are calling on all of our 2.2 million members worldwide to write to the Syrian authorities expressing our concern, demanding the reason for his detention and, if no charge is forthcoming, his immediate release.

“Mahmoud al-Najjair is a respected teacher and unless he is charged with a recognizable criminal offence he should be back where he belongs – in the classroom.”

The government began to crack down on the DDDNC on 9 December 2007.
So far 47 DDDNC members have been arrested, of whom 34 were released
within a few days. None of the 34 are known to have been charged.

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