Document - Syria: Health concern / prisoner of conscience: Faraj Ahmad Birqdar

EXTERNALAI Index: MDE 24/09/95

UA 250/95Health concern / Prisoner of conscience7 November 1995

SYRIAFaraj Ahmad Birqdar, poet and journalist, aged 43

Faraj Ahmad Birqdar, a long-term prisoner of conscience currently held in Sadnaya prison, is reportedly being denied adequate medical care for serious injuries sustained as a result of torture in pre-trial incommunicado detention. In particular, repeated sessions on al-Kursi al-almani, the German Chair (a metal chair with moving parts which causes acute hyperextension of the spine and severe pressure on the victim's neck and limbs), have reportedly left him with vertebral damage. He is believed to have suffered a lumbar fracture, resulting in him being unable to walk unaided.

Faraj Birqdar was arrested in March 1987 and held incommunicado for nearly seven years, before being brought before a Supreme State Security Court (SSSC) in 1993. He was accused of belonging to the unauthorized Hizb al-'Amal al-Shuyu'i, Party of Communist Action (PCA), and on 17 October 1993 he was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment. Amnesty International believes that SSSC procedures fall far short of international standards for fair trial.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/airmail letters in English or your own language:

- expressing serious concern about the health of Faraj Ahmad Birqdar, and seeking assurances that he is being provided with all necessary medical treatment;

- calling for an impartial and independent investigation into allegations that Faraj Birqdar was tortured in pre-trial incommunicado detention, and for anyone found responsible to be brought to justice;

- calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Faraj Birqdar as a prisoner of conscience.

Appeals from doctors and other health professionals would be welcome.


1) His Excellency

President Hafez al-Assad

Presidential Palace

Abu Rummaneh

Al-Rashid Street

Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic

Telegrams: President Al-Assad, Damascus, Syria

Telexes: 419160 munjed sy

Salutation: Your Excellency

2) His Excellency

Dr. Muhammad Harba

Minister of the Interior

Ministry of the Interior

Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic

Telegrams: Interior Minister, Damascus, Syria

Telexes: 411018 AFIRS SY

Salutation: Your Excellency

3) His Excellency

Dr. Iyad al-Shatti

Minister of Health

Ministry of Health

al-Majlis al-Niyabi Street

Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic

Telegrams: Health Minister, Damascus, Syria

Salutation: Your Excellency

4) Director

Sadnaya Prison

Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic

Telegrams: Director, Sadnaya Prison, Damascus, Syria

Salutation: Dear Director

COPIES TO: diplomatic representatives of SYRIA accredited to your country.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 24 December 1995.

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