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UA 50/94 - Syria: health concern / prisoners of conscience: Ahmad Suwaidani, Muhammad 'Id 'Ashawi, Hadithe Murade, Dafi Jam'ani, 'Abd al-Hamid Miqdad, 'Adel Na'issa, Fawzi Rida and Mustafa Rustum

, Index number: MDE 24/002/1994

Ahmad Suwaidani, a 65-year-old prisoner of conscience, is reported to have been admitted to Teshmin Hospital in Damascus on 4 February 1994. The exact causes of his ill-health are not known, but he is believed to have suffered a stroke, resulting in right-sided paralysis of his face, hand and leg. He has been held without charge or trial since 1969. There is also concern for the health of seven other long-term prisoners of conscience named above, held since their arrest between 1970 and 1972. They are all said to be in poor health, particularly Muhammad 'Id 'Ashawi, who is reported to be suffering from acute anaemia, rheutamism and a stomach ulcer.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: MDE 24/02/94
Distr: UA/SC
UA 50/94 Health concern / Prisoners of conscience 14 February 1994
SYRIA Ahmad Suwaidani, aged about 65
Muhammad 'Id 'Ashawi, Hadithe Murade, Dafi Jam'ani, 'Abd al-Hamid Miqdad, 'Adel
Na'issa, Fawzi Rida and Mustafa Rustum
Amnesty International is extremely concerned about the health of Ahmad
Suwaidani, a prisoner of conscience who has spent nearly 25 years in detention,
who is reported to have been admitted to Teshmin Hospital in Damascus on 4
February 1994 in a serious condition. The exact causes of his ill-health are
not known to Amnesty International, but he is said to have suffered a brain
seizure, causing paralysis of the right side of his face and his right hand
and leg. The organization is also concerned about the health of the seven
other prisoners of conscience named above, held since their arrest between
1970 and 1972. They are all said to be in poor health, particularly Muhammad
'Id 'Ashawi, who is reported to be suffering from acute anaemia, rheumatism
and a stomach ulcer. Amnesty International's concern is heightened by the
fact that, over the past 14 months, three long-term prisoners of conscience
have died either in custody, or soon after release.
Ahmad Suwaidani is one of a group of elderly prisoners of conscience who have
been detained for over two decades. Three of them, Dr Nour al-Din al-Atassi,
the former President of Syria, Muhammad Rabah al-Tawil, a former Minister of
Interior and Salah Jadid, a former Chief-of-Staff of the Syrian Army and senior
official of the Ba'th Party, died during the last 14 months. Nour al-Din
al-Atassi and Muhammad Rabah al-Tawil suffered serious health problems as a
result of which they were released in August 1992, but died a few months later,
in December 1992 and April 1993 respectively. Salah Jadid died in custody in
August 1993. The government said he died from natural causes, although there
was no independent autopsy or inquest into his death. Amnesty International
wrote to President Hafez al-Assad in August 1993 expressing grave concern about
this emerging pattern of deaths among this group of prisoners and about the
well-being of the eight people named above. The organization received no
response.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Ahmad Suwaidani, a diplomat and member of the Ba'th Party Regional Command
was arrested on 11 July 1969 at Damascus Airport after returning from Iraq.
He was suspected of being a pro-Iraqi Ba'thist. Since then he has been detained
in al-Mezze Military Prison in Damascus, and has never been brought before
a judge or allowed to contact a lawyer. However, he has been allowed family
visits. In July 1989, to mark his 20 years in detention, he went on hunger-strike
to demand his release.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams, telexes and airmail letters either
in English or in your own language:
- expressing concern about the health of Ahmad Suwaidani and seeking assurances
that he is being provided with all necessary medical treatment;
- expressing concern about the health of the seven other men named above, and
urging that they, too, receive all necessary medical treatment;
- calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Ahmad Suwaidani and
the other seven prisoners of conscience listed above.
2
APPEALS TO
His Excellency
President Hafez al-Assad
Presidential Palace
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Telegrams: President Al-Assad, Damascus, Syria
Telexes: 419160 munjed sy
Salutation: Your Excellency
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS 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 28 March 1994.

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