[Ed.'s Note: Due to the recent crisis in Lebanon, The
took a temporary back seat. Posting will now resume starting with quick
round-ups from the last few weeks. Regular posting will then follow.]
8/9 - Exiled dissident and former reformist MP Ma'moun Homsi addressed the Lebanese people in a statement expressing solidarity with them. (Arabic. "Free Syria," 8/9/06). He said "the only thing more brutal than the war being waged against Lebanon is the dictatorial, authoritarian family regime in Syria," which is "seeking to take advantage of the carnage in Lebanon to prolong its rule after its behavior and abuse of its people and neighbors have been exposed to the world." He accused the regime of trying to sow divisions and civil strife in Lebanon and said that "the world's turning a blind eye to this regime is a danger to all because [the regime] spreads hatred and systematically supports terrorism according to its interests and in order to stay in power."
8/10 - The Damascus Declaration (DD) groups have formed a national council for the Syrian opposition. (Arabic. Elaph, 8/10/06). Sources inside the DD told Elaph that the DD groups have agreed on an organizational structure and have formed the national council from which emerged follow-up and coordination committees. Hasan Abdel Azim told Elaph that the committees have met and have estabished offices. He added that detained dissident Aref Dalilah was named an honorary member of the follow-up committee.
8/11 - The Committees for the Defense of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights in Syria reported in a press release that on 8/11, security agents and unknown armed men surrounded the house of the Committees' spokesman, lawyer Aktham Naisse where a meeting was supposed to be held between various Arab and Kurdish parties and groups. (Arabic. SHRC, 8/11/06). The attendants were searched individually and their documents seized. Their names were then taken down and they were removed by force. Naisse remained in his house, under siege.
The Committees had declared that on 8/7, Naisse and his wife were called in for questioning at the state security branch in Lattakia as a result of an informant's report. (Arabic. SHRC, 8/8/06). The Syrian Human Rights Committee (SHRC) noted that it has recorded the existence of hundreds of thousands of informants who are either rewarded or coerced and blackmailed into writing reports about their families, friends and colleagues.
8/12 - Elaph reported that the Syrian authorities have put a new list of activists under travel bans. (Arabic. 8/12/06). The report said it found out that among of the banned were human rights lawyer Khalil Maatouq, lawyer Mahmoud Mer'i of the Arab Organization for Human Rights, who was recently released after being detained for signing the Beirut-Damascus Declaration. The Syrian authorities had recently expanded the list of travel bans to include such activists as Riad Seif, former Damascus Spring detainee Ali Khalife, Suheir Atassi, Fawwaz Tello, and Samar Labwani, wife of political prisoner Kamal Labwani.
The Syrian Human Rights Committee had also reported on 8/9 that activist Ussama Naisse was also put under a travel ban, and various other liberal activists were being summoned for interrogation. (Arabic. SHRC, 8/9/06).
8/14 - The trial of writer and dissident Ali Abdallah and his son was postponed. (Arabic. Elaph, 8/14/06). Their lawyers presented a plea for their release but the judge turned it down. The Abdallahs denied all the charges against them. Ali is accused of spreading false news, undermining the state, and defaming the President, while his son Muhammad is charged with disseminating false news, defaming the chief judge of the State Security Court, and starting riots.
8/15 - The military tribunal in Homs -- an extraordinary tribunal -- sentenced Syrian writer and activist Habib Saleh to the maximum sentence of three years in prison for "disseminating false news." (Arabic. AKI, 8/16/06). Saleh is a former Damascus Spring detainee who was jailed for three years on 9/12/01, when Bashar Assad cracked down on dissidents and activists soon after assuming power. (Arabic. Levant News, 8/15/06). Saleh was released on 9/9/04 and was again arrested by military intelligence on 5/30/05 and charged with spreading false and exaggerated news. He had been publishing scathing articles on the web, attacking the Syrian president and his family and some of the symbols of the regime. The articles were in the form of open letters addressed to the Baath Party Congress, which took place in June 2005 and failed to introduce any reforms.
8/15 - The head of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, Ali Sadreddine al-Bayanouni, said in a talk to Radio Sawa that the war in Lebanon has temporarily frozen activities against the regime, but that they would soon resume. (Arabic. Levant News, 8/15/06). He added that the Syrian regime was isolating itself more and more and that the Lebanese have realized that the regime's role in the war was to employ its "cards" and to manage a proxy war outside its own borders, at the expense of the Lebanese people. Bayanouni noted that the war in Lebanon had exposed the Syrian regime and increased its isolation with Arab and Western governments. He said that there was consensus among the Syrian opposition groups that the alternative to the regime would be democratic, pluralistic, and diverse, adding that the National Salvation Front is preparing a transitional government in consultation with all other groups.
8/16 - Activist Ali Said Shehabi, who was formerly detained between 1982 and 1991 for his involvement in the Communist Labor party at the time, was summoned on 8/10 for interrogation at the state security branch and never returned home. His wife inquired about him at the security branch and was told that he was detained there, but did not allow her to see him and was not told why he was being detained. (Arabic. "Free Syria," 8/16/06).