Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

30 October 2008

Syrian court sentences activists to two and a half years

Syrian court sentences activists to two and a half years
A Syrian criminal court has sentenced 12 pro-democracy activists to two and a half years in prison for calling for democratic reform and respect for human rights.

The activists, all of whom belong to the broad-based Syrian opposition coalition the Damascus Declaration for Democratic National Change (DDDNC), were found guilty following an unfair trial. They were convicted of "weakening national sentiment" and "broadcasting false or exaggerated news which could affect the morale of the country".

The activists were arrested in December 2007 and January 2008, after taking part in a meeting of the DDDNC. Tens of other participants were arrested but later released without charge.

The trial proceedings were marked by serious irregularities. The 12 activists were initially held incommunicado in Damascus by the State Security Branch for up to several weeks, during which time most have said that they were beaten and coerced into signing false "confessions". Their access to lawyers has been restricted, while the lawyers themselves have been denied copies of the case files.

The DDDNC, established in October 2005, is an unauthorized coalition of political parties, human rights organizations and pro-democracy activists. It brings together groups of different tendencies, including Arab nationalist, Islamic, Kurdish, leftist and liberal.

The coalition has called on the Syrian government to suspend the state of emergency in force since 1963. It has also urged the authorities to release all political prisoners; to allow the safe return of Syrian exiles; to abolish Law 49, which makes membership of the Muslim Brotherhood punishable by death; and to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Amnesty International considers all 12 activists to be prisoners of conscience who have been imprisoned for calling for democratic reform and respect for human rights. The organization will continue its campaign to secure their release.

Read More

Syria: Repressing dissent: Pro-democracy activists on trial in Syria (Public statement, 8 October 2008)
Syria: Release pro-democracy activists immediately (Press release, 28 October
Syria: Amnesty International condemns sentencing of 12 pro-democracy activists (Public statement, 29 October)


Freedom Of Expression 
Prisoners Of Conscience 
Torture And Ill-treatment 
Trials And Legal Systems 




Middle East And North Africa 

@amnestyonline on twitter


24 October 2014

Equatorial Guinea’s government should reveal the names and the reasons for the arrest of all prisoners set to benefit from the country’s newly announced amnesty on... Read more »

24 October 2014

The dismissive reaction of the Dominican Republic to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ ruling on human rights abuses suffered by Dominicans of Haitian descent and... Read more »

22 October 2014

The release from prison of one of Viet Nam’s most high profile prisoners of conscience is a positive step, but authorities must now free the scores of other peaceful... Read more »

24 October 2014

The decision to authorize the extradition to Russia of Kazakhstani banker and opposition figure Mukhtar Ablyazov by a french Court of Appeal has set in motion a procedure... Read more »

24 October 2014

The Iranian authorities must stop the execution of a woman due to be hanged tomorrow morning after being convicted for the killing of a man whom she said tried to... Read more »