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Tuesday, February 17, 2015


U.S. Mission to the United Nations: Statement on the Detention of Mazen Darwish, Human Rights Defender, in Syria
02/16/2015 02:31 PM EST
Samantha Power
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
New York, NY
February 16, 2015

Today marks three years since the Syrian regime detained journalist, lawyer and human rights defender Mazen Darwish. Darwish championed freedom of expression and sought to advance the cause of peace and to end the suffering of the Syrian people. A founder of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCMFE) – a partner organization of Reporters Without Borders – he worked to promote journalists’ rights in the face of the oppressive Syrian regime. In July 2011, the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression became the first Syrian-based NGO ever to receive consultative status at the United Nations.

Instead of embracing Darwish for his ideals and the contributions he could have made to Syria’s future, the Assad regime violently silenced him. Darwish is not alone. Two other SCMFE staffers, the prominent blogger Hussein Ghrer and journalist Hani al-Zitani, also remain in prison. They are but a few of the tens of thousands of Syrians arrested by the regime for their non-violent human rights activism.

For three years, Darwish’s powerful voice for reason and peace has been muted by a brutal Syrian regime intent on the complete repression of the civil and human rights of the Syrian people. The United States strongly condemns the continued detention of Mazen Darwish, and we express our deep concern over reports that he and his colleagues have been subjected to torture.

Today, the United States again calls for Bashar al-Assad’s government to release Mazen Darwish, Hussein Ghrer and Hani al-Zitani, along with the staggering tens of thousands of others who are being detained and tortured by the Syrian regime.