PUBLIC AI Index: MDE 24/010/2001
UA 123/01 Fear for safety/"disappearance"/incommunicado detention/torture 21 May 2001
SYRIAHilal Abdel-Razaq Ali, British citizen
The Syrian authorities are reportedly holding British citizen Hilal Abdel-Razaq
Ali without charge or trial, in an attempt to force a relative who is apparently
wanted for committing a “breach of national security” to give himself up. The
authorities deny having him in custody, and he is at risk of torture.
The British Embassy in Syria and the UK Foreign Office have made a number of
enquiries, but the Syrian authorities have consistently denied they are holding
him. They are reportedly holding other relatives of Hilal Abdel-Razaq Ali,
for the same purpose.
Hilal Abdel-Razaq Ali, who is of Iraqi origin, had lived in the United Kingdom
for 10 years, moved to Syria to work as a basketball instructor in July 2000.
It appears that he was arrested in the northern city of Hama on 25 July. He
was apparently beaten twice daily from then until October, when he was
transferred to the Far’ Falastin (Palestine Branch) military intelligence
detention centre in Damascus, where he is now believed to be held incommunicado.
Hilal Abdel-Razaq Ali has high blood pressure and asthma. Before he left the
UK he was undergoing tests to determine whether he was suffering from angina.
His life will be in danger if he is not given adequate medication.
Torture is systematic in Syrian prisons and is frequently used in interrogation
of political suspects or to extract information about missing suspects to whom
the victim is connected.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in English, Arabic or your own language:
- asking where Hilal Abdel-Razaq Ali is being held and urging that he is treated
humanely and allowed access to medical care, consular visits and a lawyer of
- asking the authorities why he was arrested and whether he has been charged
- urging them to release him unless he is to be charged with a recognisably
- expressing concern at reports that he has been tortured and ill-treated,
and calling for an independent and impartial investigation into these
President Bashar al-Assad
Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic
Telegrams: President al-Assad, Damascus, Syria
Telex: 419160 prespl sy
Salutation: Your Excellency