Concerned about ailing political prisoner deprived of treatment, Reporters Without Borders urges Sarkozy to raise human rights during Damascus visit

first_img Reporters Without Borders has written to French President Nicolas Sarkozy asking him to raise the issue of Syria’s political prisoners when he meets Syrian President Bashar el-Assad during a visit to Damascus this week. The press freedom organisation is particularly worried about the health of Ali Abdallah (logo), an independent journalist held since 17 December 2007. Reporters Without Borders has written to French President Nicolas Sarkozy asking him to raise the issue of Syria’s political prisoners when he meets Syrian President Bashar el-Assad during a visit to Damascus this week. The press freedom organisation is particularly worried about the health of Ali Abdallah (photo), an independent journalist held since 17 December 2007. March 8, 2021 Find out more Organisation RSF_en March 12, 2021 Find out more News News Help by sharing this information Receive email alerts Wave of Kurdish arrests of Syrian journalists Newscenter_img to go further SyriaMiddle East – North Africa SyriaMiddle East – North Africa September 1, 2008 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Concerned about ailing political prisoner deprived of treatment, Reporters Without Borders urges Sarkozy to raise human rights during Damascus visit News Toll of ten years of civil war on journalists in Syria Abdallah’s family’s is very concerned about a loss of hearing in his left ear as a result of blows receiving during interrogation in the days following his arrest, and about the fact that he was last examined by a doctor on 28 January. He was transferred more than two months ago to section 13 of Adra prison (on the outskirts of Damascus), where conditions are much harsher. The transfer was a punishment for refusing to stand up during an argument with a guard. In its 28 August letter to President Sarkozy, Reporters Without Borders says:“In recent months, you have expressed France’s firm desire to reconcile with the Syrian government led by Bashar el-Assad. We understand France’s interest in not turning its back on the Syrian leader, an important actor in the region. We were, it is true, deeply shocked by his presence on the VIP stand during the Bastille Day celebrations on 14 July because of the repressive nature of his regime.“You are about to go to Damascus on 3-4 September. During your visit, we hope you will publicly express your concern about the human rights situation in Syria. We think that it is vital that you should raise the cases of the hundreds of prisoners of opinion – opposition politicians, defenders of the Kurdish minority, and journalists – who are rotting in Syrian jails.“Their fate deserves to be raised by the French president. During your last trip to Tunisia, which is governed by an insidious and authoritarian regime, you said to our great astonishment that you did not want to try to ‘teach any lessons’ in a country where ‘the space for freedoms is growing.’ That statement could not have been farther from the truth.“Mr. President, whomever you talk to, we would like to see you speak out in defence of freedom and human dignity, firmly and in plain language. Men and women pay a high price for being outspoken in Syria. Twelve of the people who signed the Damascus Declaration, which calls for ‘democratic and radical change’ went on trial on 30 July. Held since the start of the year in Adra prison, they are charged with publishing false information with the aim of harming the state, membership of a secret organisation designed to destabilise the state and inciting ethnic and racial tension.“They face the possibility of getting very heavy prison sentences on these charges, like writer and journalist Michel Kilo, who is currently serving a three-year jail sentence for advocating the restoration of diplomatic relations between Syria and Lebanon, although these relations are now in the process of being restored. This diplomatic initiative of prime importance makes his detention even more arbitrary.“The state of emergency law that has been in force in Syria since 1962 is a powerful repressive tool that enables military and civilian courts to jail the leading members of the Damascus Spring. Pro-democracy activists, who are stifled by the ruling Baath Party’s intelligence services, need to see you as an ally able to defend the message for which they have been deprived of their freedom.” Damascus TV presenter arrested under cyber-crime law Follow the news on Syria February 3, 2021 Find out morelast_img read more

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Police tighten Congress security in era of rising threats

first_imgLocal NewsUS News Twitter Twitter WhatsApp Police tighten Congress security in era of rising threats WASHINGTON (AP) — The House’s chief law enforcement officer is tightening security for traveling lawmakers as Congress reassesses safety in an era when threats against members were surging even before Donald Trump’s supporters attacked the Capitol. Capitol Police officers will be stationed at Washington-area airports and the city’s Union Station train depot on busy travel days, the acting House sergeant at arms said in a memo obtained Friday. Timothy P. Blodgett said he’s set up an online portal so lawmakers can notify the agency about travel plans, and he urged them to coordinate trips with local police and airport officials and report suspicious activity to authorities. Capitol Police “will not be available for personal escorts,” said the email, sent late Thursday. “However, they will be in place to monitor as members move through the airport.” The steps underscored political divisions that grew increasingly acrid, even potentially dangerous, during Trump’s invective-filled four years as president. In addition to personal verbal attacks against perceived foes, Trump stirred up supporters with relentless streams of bogus conspiracies like his false charge that Democrats stole November’s election from him. The animosity lawmakers face has spread among themselves, with numerous Democrats saying they are wary of GOP colleagues who’ve said they carry guns in Washington. Republicans have bristled at new screening devices installed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that lawmakers are required to pass through when entering the House chamber, where carrying firearms is not allowed. “The enemy is within the House of Representatives,” Pelosi told reporters this week in a chilling characterization of Congress’ internal tensions. She cited “members of Congress who want to bring guns on the floor and have threatened violence on other members of Congress.” In the latest instance of Capitol Hill’s spiraling personal hostility, Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., tweeted Friday that she was moving her office away from that of fellow freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., “for my team’s safety.” Bush wrote that a maskless Greene and her staff “berated me in a hallway,” and wrote later that past Greene tweets have made her feel unsafe. Greene responded with a tweet of her own, saying: “She is lying to you. She berated me.” Greene also called Bush, who is Black, “the leader of the St. Louis Black Lives Matter terrorist mob who trespassed into a gated neighborhood to threaten the lives of the McCloskey’s.” Last summer, Bush was among marchers at whom Mark and Patricia McCloskey waved guns after the protesters walked past their mansion in a private St. Louis neighborhood. The McCloskeys have pleaded not guilty to weapons and evidence tampering charges. Bush is now one of Congress’ most progressive members. She has sponsored a measure that could lead to expulsion for lawmakers who — like Greene — backed Trump’s unjustified effort to reverse his November election defeat. Greene has drawn fire from Democrats and some Republicans for past social media posts reported by various news organizations in which she’s suggested support for killing Democratic politicians, unfounded QAnon theories and racist views. Congress’ 535 members travel frequently between their homes and the capital, and many have said they feel vulnerable in their districts and when they travel. Videos have shown people insulting lawmakers at airports, including Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who has criticized Trump. The Jan. 6 Capitol riot “reminds us of the grim reality that members of Congress are high-profile public officials, and therefore face ongoing security threats from the same domestic terror groups that attacked the Capitol,” 32 House members, nearly all Democrats, wrote to congressional leaders this week. Five people died in the attack, including a Capitol Police officer, and the House impeached Trump on a charge of inciting insurrection. The House lawmakers’ letter said while 902 threats against members of Congress were investigated in 2016, the number surged to 4,894 cases in 2018 and was tracking upward, according to Capitol Police testimony in 2019. Limited local police resources and social media strewn with personal information and their real-time locations make lawmakers more vulnerable when they are home, their letter said. The House members asked for tightened security procedures. Pelosi told reporters that some steps have already been taken and that she’ll likely seek money to bolster safety. Members have been told they can use their office expenses to buy bullet-proof vests, which several have said they are wearing. Blodgett’s letter said they can use those accounts for security for themselves and their offices, and said a Federal Election Commission opinion lets them use campaign funds for home security systems. The acting chief of the Capitol Police, Yogananda D. Pittman, said this week that “vast improvements” are needed to protect the Capitol and adjacent office buildings, including permanent fencing. Since Jan. 6, the Capitol has been surrounded by a tall barrier and the grounds are patrolled by National Guard troops. Many lawmakers have long resisted giving the nation’s symbol of democracy the look of a besieged compound, and leaders were noncommittal about permanent fencing. President Joe Biden is in “close touch” with Pelosi about congressional security, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. Trump backers smashed their way into the U.S. Capitol after a morning speech in which he urged them to go there as Congress formally affirmed Joe Biden’s election victory. That riot left five people dead and prompted the House to impeach him for inciting insurrection, for which he faces a Senate trial in February. ——— AP reporter Alexandra Jaffe contributed to this report. Pinterest Facebookcenter_img TAGS  By Digital AIM Web Support – January 29, 2021 Pinterest Facebook WhatsApp Previous articleCertain BlackRock Closed-End Funds Announce Estimated Sources of DistributionsNext articleVersatility key for Alabama, Oklahoma in SEC/Big 12 matchup Digital AIM Web Supportlast_img read more

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