Saturday, May 12, 2012

Syria: Writer arrested, held incommunicado

Source: IFEX

(WiPC/IFEX) - 11 May 2012 - The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International fears for the safety of leading writer and thinker Salama Kila, who was arrested on 23 April 2012 for his writings about the recent events taking place in Syria. He remains detained incommunicado at an unknown location, and is considered to be at serious risk of torture and ill-treatment. PEN International considers Salama Kila to be targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Syria is a signatory, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

It urgently seeks information about his whereabouts, any charges against him and guarantees of his safety in detention.

According to PEN's information, Salama Kila was arrested when security forces raided his home after midnight and confiscated his computer and disks. The security forces did not give any reason for his arrest. Kila, who is of Palestinian origin, had been previously detained for eight years in Syrian jails in the 1990s. He suffers from cancer, for which he is currently receiving treatment. Kila has written more than twenty books and currently writes for several Arabic newspapers and magazines.


Anti-government protests were sparked in mid-March 2011 and have since spread across the country. Mass arrests have been taking place and security officers have responded to the continuing protests with excessive force, using tear gas and live bullets to disperse demonstrators, and bombarding opposition stronghold areas with mortar bombs and rockets. Thousands of civilians have been killed and many more wounded.

Protestors continue to demand political reform and to call upon President Bashar al-Assad to step down. Syrian authorities continue to suppress these protests with force, often indiscriminately, despite promises to end the violence.

With the internet and media already severely curtailed in recent years, the Syrian authorities have imposed even greater restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly in reaction to recent events. Most foreign reporters and correspondents have been asked to leave the country and access to any independent media is denied.