Brother of Syrian Human Rights Defender Arrested

The brother of Syrian human rights defender and opposition figure Radwan Ziadeh, Yassein, was arrested by the Syrian Air Force on August 30 after morning prayers. According to his brother, Yassein was not involved in local protests and risks facing torture at the hands of his captors.  Radwan is a visiting scholar at George Washington University and head of the Damascus Centre for Human Rights Studies. He has been instrumental in calling attention to human rights abuses committed by the regime. As a result of Radwan’s political activity, his family has faced a travel ban since February 2008.

Government forces have killed an estimated 2,200 people, as violence escalated with attacks by the Syrian army on the cities of Hama, Deir Ezzor, Bokamel, Arben, and Madameya. Freedom of expression has come under threat, as cultural figures, activists and journalists face kidnapping, arrest and murder. Laws criminalize the publication of materials that threaten national unity or tarnish the image of the state. In July 2011, composer Ibrahim al-Qashoush, who penned an “anti-regime” song, was killed and his vocal chords removed. Nearly five months after demonstrations began, U.S. President Barack Obama issued a statement calling on President Bashar al-Assad to step down and authorized an executive order imposing sanctions on the Syrian government. President Assad has ignored international pleas to cease attacks on civilians, and his forces continue to use small arms and heavy weapons against Syrian citizens.
Freedom House calls for the immediate release of Yassein Ziadeh, and for Syrian forces to end the harassment of human rights defenders and their families.