Document - Syria: Medical action: Doha 'Ashur al-'Askari (f)

AI Index: MDE 24/11/99

Date: 1 July 1999


Distrib: PG/SC

To: Health professionals

From: Medical Office / Middle East Program


MEDICAL LETTER WRITING ACTION


Doha ‘Ashur al-‘Askari (f)


SYRIA


Theme: prisoner of conscience / health concern


Summary


Amnesty International is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of prisoner of conscience Doha ‘Ashur al-‘Askari who remains in detention in Syria despite the fact that her six-year prison sentence expired on 10 February 1999. Doha ‘Ashur al-‘Askari had been sentenced in connection with membership of a banned organization, the Party of Communist Action.


Doha ‘Ashur al-‘Askari began a hunger strike in ‘Adra Prison on 10 June 1999 in protest at being kept in prison beyond the expiry of her sentence. Amnesty International is concerned for her well-being and is urging the authorities to provide Doha ‘Ashur al-‘Askari with adequate medical care while she remains in detention and to arrange her prompt release.


Background


Doha 'Ashur al-'Askari was sentenced in an unfair trial to six years' imprisonment by the Syrian Supreme State Security Court (SSSC) for her alleged involvement with the unauthorized Party for Communist Action (PCA). She had been in hiding for several years when the Political Security Department arrested her in February 1993, and after her arrest she was held incommunicado for two months and reportedly ill-treated.


At least five other prisoners of conscience are still detained in Syria after the expiry of their sentences. In the past some political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, have been held for up to 13 years after their sentences expired. In a letter to Amnesty International last year the authorities confirmed that her sentence was due to end on 10 February 1999.


Prison conditions in Syria fall seriously short of international human rights standards and torture and ill-treatment of detainees is routine, particularly during the interrogation stage of detention.


Recommended actions


Urgent appeals are requested from health professionals to the addresses below:


  1. introducing yourself as a member of Amnesty International’s health professional network

  2. calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Doha ‘Ashur al-‘Askari as a prisoner of conscience

  3. noting that Doha ‘Ashur al-‘Askari’s prison sentence was due to end on 10 February 1999

  4. expressing concern at reports that Doha ‘Ashur al-‘Askari has started a hunger strike in protest at her detention beyond the expiry date of her sentence and that her health may be deteriorating

  5. urging the authorities to provide Doha ‘Ashur al-‘Askari with access to medical care while she remains in detention


ADDRESSES


His Excellency

President Hafez al-Assad

Presidential Palace

Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic

Telegrams: President al-Assad, Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic

Telexes: 419160 prespl sy

Salutation: Your Excellency


His Excellency

Dr Muhammad Harba

Minster of the Interior

Ministry of the Interior

Merjeh Circle

Damascus

Syrian Arab Republic

Faxes: + 963 11 222 3428

Salutation: Your ExcellencyHis Excellency

Nasser Qaddur

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Al-Rashid Street

Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic

Faxes: + 963 11 224 5747



COPIES:


His Excellency

Dr Iyad al-Shatti

Minister of Health

Ministry of Health

al-Majlis al-Niyabi Street

Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic


Please also send copiesto diplomatic representatives of Syria accredited to your country.

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