Syria: Martin Ennals Award announces Muhannad Al-Hassani as Laureate for 2010

Published on en.Al Karama.org, 07 May 2010.

Muhannad Al-Hassani, a longstanding Syrian human rights defender and lawyer has been awarded the Martin Ennals Award (MEA) laureate for 2010 – the prize to be presented on 15 October 2010 in Geneva. Hans Thoolen, president of the Martin Ennals Foundation, made the announcement at the Geneva Press Club in the presence of Reid Brody, European Press Director at Human Rights Watch and a Jury member of the Martin Ennals Award alongside the City of Geneva’s Mayor Rémy Pagani. 

Unfortunately, Al-Hassani is currently detained inside Adra prison along with his lawyer Haitham Al-Maleh, and will most likely be unable to to travel to Geneva for the October award ceremony. Both Al-Hassani and Al-Maleh are accused of “weakning national sentiment” and “spreading false news”, though arrested at seperate times. Al-Hassani has been under constant surveillance by Syrian Security forces over the past six years and is currently subjected to a travel ban.

Al-Hassani’s arrest:

Al-Hassani was detained on 28 July 2009 after allegedly having reported on public sessions held at Damascus’ State Security Court, which is of course illegal in Syria. On 10 November 2009, while in jail, Al-Hassani was disbarred in absentia by the Damascus Section of the Syrian Bar Association, effectively prohibiting him from practicing law for the rest of his life.

He is currently sharing a prison cell along with 70 other prisoners and denied proper medical care … //

… Context:

Syria has a long history of repression of the freedom of expression and has instigated a campaign against not only against human rights defenders but also journalist and bloggers, in an effort to further gag its citizens and strengthen its stranglehold on civil society. Alkarama’s most recent Syrian cases have for the most part been that of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention resulting from the exercise of freedom of expression.

Al-Hassani’s award serves to highlight the case of his lawyer, Haitham Al-Maleh, who was arrested after giving a telephone interview on the London-based Barada TV, while also bring attention to cases of Sheikh Abdul Rahman Koki and Ma’an Aqil, both now fortunately released however detained for similar reasons. (full text).

Links:

Muhannad Al-Hassani on YouTube by Google Videos;

Syria: Persecution of human rights lawyer Muhannad al-Hassani, Amnesty International, AI Index Number: MDE 24/023/2009, 24 September 2009;

Syria: the case of Muhannad al-Hassani, European Parliament resolution of 17 September 2009 … , (P7_TA-PROV(2009)0024).

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