Posts tagged Human Rights.
Human rights activist Saeed Jalalifar arrested | Persian2English #iran #iranelection

Persian2English Human rights activist Saeed Jalalifar was arrested on Sunday afternoon (July 31st) and transferred to ward 350 of Evin prison, according to human rights groups.

The court hearing for the human rights activist has not been held yet nor has a date been announced. Informed sources have told the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR) that Judge Moghiseh from branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court ordered to keep Saeed Jalalifar in ward 350 of Evin prison until a date is issued for his trial.

Saeed Jalalifar’s mother confirmed her son’s arrest in a brief interview with HRANA and said that he had gone to Evin prison to stop [authorities] from confiscating the bail money.

Saeed Jalalifar was arrested on November 30, 2009 and released on a $100 thousand (USD) bail on March 16, 2010, a few days before the start of the Persian New Year.

Since his arrest he has been summoned by the judicial authorities numerous times. His official charge is: “Engaging in propaganda activities against the regime”.

Saeed Jalalifar is a member of CHRR, a banned student from the University of Zanjan, and also a children’s rights activist.

Human rights activist Saeed Jalalifar arrested | Persian2English #iran #iranelection

Persian2English Human rights activist Saeed Jalalifar was arrested on Sunday afternoon (July 31st) and transferred to ward 350 of Evin prison, according to human rights groups.

The court hearing for the human rights activist has not been held yet nor has a date been announced. Informed sources have told the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR) that Judge Moghiseh from branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court ordered to keep Saeed Jalalifar in ward 350 of Evin prison until a date is issued for his trial.

Saeed Jalalifar’s mother confirmed her son’s arrest in a brief interview with HRANA and said that he had gone to Evin prison to stop [authorities] from confiscating the bail money.

Saeed Jalalifar was arrested on November 30, 2009 and released on a $100 thousand (USD) bail on March 16, 2010, a few days before the start of the Persian New Year.

Since his arrest he has been summoned by the judicial authorities numerous times. His official charge is: “Engaging in propaganda activities against the regime”.

Saeed Jalalifar is a member of CHRR, a banned student from the University of Zanjan, and also a children’s rights activist.

Fake Ambulances used to lure injured civilians so the secret police can finish them off. #Syria #symap #Douma #Damascus



Description on YouTube:
Syria is a nation under Military Occupation with Army, Secret Police and private Alawite Militia roaming the streets in search of pro Democracy protesters to beat, arrest and shoot. This video clip a a sample of what is going on in Douma, Damascus today. You will even see in this clip an ambulance which is used to lure injured protesters to their deaths. What happens is the Police will shoot protesters in cold blood in the streets and those who are only wounded and not dead will be picked up by these fake ambulances. Once in the fake ambulance the secret police will finish off the wounded protesters. 

This is only one of countless diabolical evil tricks that the Syria Dictator is using to crush and confuse the pro Democracy movement.
Syria continues now for over 4 months to endure Gunfire and Terror as the hands of their Dictator, Bashar Assad - - Security Forces roam the streets of this nation, randomly shooting at people, kicking in doors and dragging off thousands of people to prison and death. 2,000 people have been known to have been killed by the regime and another 3,000 are missing and may have been executed in the Dictator’s Dungeons. Approx 15,000 civilians have been arrested and are being held in soccer stadiums, schools, hospitals and other buildings.

The following is a Google translation of the YouTube description. If you have a better translation we are happy to amend it.

J and brutality unprecedented .. Orbaini man was returning to his home after Friday prayers, panic to see the heavily armed security and ran to the roof of his house, followed him security and the criminal broke into the roof of the house, the terrified man jumped into a room two meters below the surface .. No mercy and you see the Security section of how to throw stones at him, wounding his head and he fainted and fell from the third floor .. Not only security but followed the offender so stoned with stones until the sinking of his own blood and broken bones .. The first aid by parents to the hospital but the wound was informed that the Adawiyeh doctor and passed away at eight-thirty on Friday 29 \ 7 \ 2011
If you know may Tsakon n videographer is the son of the martyr! Did not know that this man who Argmeh Security stones is the offender and his father …
God bless you Jihad, and inspired by your family patience and solace .. And God will not forget you will not give up on your blood and unto the path are going until we achieve justice for you and people like you who are victims of this system.


Spokesperson Nuland on The Ongoing Situation in Syria «

U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Victoria Nuland

July 05, 2011

The United States remains deeply concerned by the ongoing attacks against peaceful protestors at the hands of the Syrian government. The government of Syria claims it is interested in a dialogue with the opposition. Yet, its actions in cities like Hama and along the Turkish border directly undermine the credibility of its words and its initiative. Syrian security forces have once again stepped up their repression and harassment of peaceful demonstrators and opposition members. There is no justification, no excuse for the Syrian security forces to begin yet another crackdown, killing protesters and arresting people suspected of political opposition.

We urge the government of Syria to immediately halt its intimidation and arrest campaign, pull its security forces back from Hama and other cities, and allow the Syrian people to express their opinions freely so that a genuine transition to democracy can take place. The international community will continue to stand with the people of Syria as they seek their universal human rights.

Sky News: 16 killed by Syrian security forces. #Syria #humanrights #refugees #Lebanon #Turkey

16 killed by Syrian security forces

Updated: 05:45, Saturday June 18, 2011

16 killed by Syrian security forces

Syrian security forces killed at least 16 people on Friday, including a teenage boy, as thousands of people poured into the streets across the country calling for the downfall of President Bashar Assad’s autocratic regime, activists said.

The unrest also appeared to be spilling over into neighboring Lebanon. A senior member of a Lebanese political party allied with Syria was killed on Friday after gunmen opened fire and lobbed a grenade near hundreds of people holding an anti-Assad protest in northern Lebanon, a security official said in Beirut.

The protests in Syria came hours after Syrian troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships seized control early on Friday of another northwestern town in the latest military operation to quell the dissent.

Since the protests erupted in mid-March, Assad has unleashed the military to crush street demonstrations. Human rights activists say more than 1400 Syrians have been killed and 10,000 detained.

'What is our guilt? We just demanded freedom and democracy, nothing else,' said Mohamed, who spoke to The Associated Press from a refugee camp in neighbouring Turkey and asked to be identified only by his first name. He and other refugees offered fresh accounts of summary executions to suppress the pro-democracy movement.

'I saw people who were beheaded with machinegun fire from helicopters,' and a man tortured to death when security forces 'poured acid on to his body', he said.

Mohamed fled with his family as the military besieged Jisr al-Shughour, a rebellious town the government recaptured last Sunday.

He said a sugar factory in the city was turned into a jail where they ‘hold quick trials and execute anyone who they believe participated in protests’.

He is among about 9600 people are seeking shelter in Turkish refugee camps. On Friday, UN envoy Angelina Jolie travelled to Turkey’s border with Syria to meet some of the thousands of Syrian refugees.

The Syrian crackdown has brought international condemnation and sanctions on the regime. On Friday, a French official said the European Union was preparing new, expanded sanctions that would target the economy.

The Syrian government claims armed gangs and foreign conspirators are behind the unrest, not true reform-seekers. In what has become a weekly back-and-forth between activists and the government, both sides offered divergent death tolls.

Syria’s state-run TV said on Friday that a policeman was killed and more than 20 were wounded when ‘armed groups’ opened fire at them. It added that six police officers were wounded in Deir el-Zour when gunmen attacked a police station in the area.

But the Local Coordination Committees, a group that documents the protests, and Syria-based rights activist Mustafa Osso told The Associated Press that eight people were killed, all of them civilians, citing witnesses on the ground.

Nine people were killed in the central city of Homs, two in the eastern town of Deir el-Zour and two in the Damascus suburb of Harasta, one in the northern city of Aleppo. The 16-year-old, who was in the streets protesting, and another person died in the southern village of Dael, the Local Coordination Committees said.

It’s impossible to independently confirm many accounts coming out of Syria. Foreign journalists have been expelled from the country and local reporters face tight controls.

Meanwhile, troops in large numbers poured into Maaret al-Numan, 45km from the Turkish border, said rights activist Osso. He said other forces were now massing around Khan Sheikhon, to the south, where gunmen attacked army forces earlier this month.

Omar Idilbi of the Local Coordination Committees said government forces had taken full control of Maaret al-Numan, a town of 100,000 on the highway linking Damascus, the capital, with the major city of Aleppo.

Many of its residents had fled as troops swept through Idlib province in recent days.

There was no immediate word on casualties in Maaret al-Numan.

Protests were reported across the country on Friday, with thousands pouring into the streets of the central cities of Homs and Hama, the southern villages of Dael and Otman, coastal cities of Latakia and Banias, the Damascus suburbs of Qudsaya and Douma as well as the capital, Damascus.

In the northeast, about 2000 protesters marched in the towns of Amouda and Qamishli, chanting for the regime’s downfall, the Local Coordination Committees said. In the southern village of Dael, activists said cracks of gunfire could be heard at the centre where a protest was held.

Some of the protesters shouted against Assad’s cousin, Rami Makhlouf, the country’s most influential businessman who is widely reviled by Syrians for alleged corruption. On Thursday, apparently as an overture to the protesters, he announced that he will now concentrate on charity work.

'Go play another game Makhlouf,' protesters shouted in Daraa, a city near the Jordanian border where the uprising began in mid-March.

Friday has become the main day for protests in the Arab world, and Syrians have turned out every week in large numbers nationwide, inspired by democratic revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.

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Archetype in Action™ Organization - Zainab Al-Khawaja (a.k.a. @AngryArabiya) arrested in #Bahrain

Zainab Al-Khawaja (a.k.a. @AngryArabiya)

Zainab Al-Khawaja

Zainab Al-Khawaja is a Bahraini woman who caught the media’s attention when she went on a hunger strike to protest the unjust arrest of her father, human rights activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, and her husband and brother.

Zainab’s Tweet about Her Hunger Strike

A Facebook page emerged called ‘We are All Zainab Al-Khawaja’ in support of Zainab’s hunger strike. Zainab ended her hunger strike after 10 days claiming, “being silent in a tomb and not able to speak is not in the interests of my family”.

Today, on Twitter, a Bahraini journalist reported that Zainab Al-Khawaja is being interrogated by Bahraini forces. Zainab and her closest male

relatives are currently in Bahraini custody; their crime? The desire for freedom.

Zainab Al-Khawaja and Her Father (lower left),
Husband and Child (lower right)

This is just one of many cases of unjust arrests and trials conducted by the Bahraini government and this MUST stop. Maryam Al-Khawaja, Zainab’s sister, is a fellow activist who posted a tweet expressing her opinion as to why Zainab is being interrogated. Maryam claims that it is an attempt to blackmail her and her father, an attempt Maryam says has only added to the Al-Khawaja family’s determination.

Nour is a young Kuwaiti woman who started her activism in the Kuwaiti protests demanding women’s suffrage, the rest is history…..literally :) She regularly blogs at “Peace Is the New Black”.

Update: Video of men with fatal headwounds on rooftop was a “trophy” video. #Syria

Someone has kindly put English subtitles on the graphic video of men killed on rooftop in Syria which was posted here earlier. It was one of three videos filmed as a trophy, according to the tweet that linked to it, and they have edited all three together into one.

You can view it here on Universal Subtitles website.

#Egypt : general confirms “virginity checks” forced on female protesters by military #emcom


Via CNN and other sources today, the revolting news that a senior Egyptian general admits so-called “virginity checks” (presumably, forcible examination of the hymen) were performed on women arrested in at least one demonstration this spring. Previously, military authorities denied it. Now, an Egyptian general who asked not to be identified defends the practice—wait for it—as a protective measure for the women’s own good.

As noted previously on Boing Boing, Amnesty International reported and condemned news of this systematic sexual abuse by military agents back in March. At the time, women were at the forefront of the historic Tahrir Square protests that overthrew the regime of President Hosni Mubarak. And Amnesty International was told then by a group of women protesters “that they were beaten, given electric shocks, subjected to strip searches while being photographed by male soldiers, then forced to submit to ‘virginity checks’ and threatened with prostitution charges.”

With that in mind, here’s a snip from Shahira Amin’s report today for CNN:

The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine,” the general said. “These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in Tahrir Square, and we found in the tents Molotov cocktails and (drugs).”

The general said the virginity checks were done so that the women wouldn’t later claim they had been raped by Egyptian authorities.

"We didn’t want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren’t virgins in the first place," the general said. "None of them were (virgins)."

…and if you’re not a virgin, it’s not rape, anyway. But more to the point: these so-called “virginity checks” are nothing less than a form of rape.

As a human biology note, not that it would make this horrific form of militarized sexual abuse any more justified, and not that it was the point of those perpetrating the abuse: examiningthe hymen is not an accurate way to determine virginity. This is a myth.

And a personal observation? My god, but these women out at the protests in Egypt, knowing that these are the sort of barbaric risks they face, are strong, strong human beings.

(PHOTO: Egyptian soldiers stand behind veiled women opposition supporters at Tahrir Square in Cairo in February, 2011; roughly the same period during which reports of this form of sexual abuse by military began to emerge. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic.)

UK training Saudi forces used to crush Arab spring | World news | The Observer

Britain is training Saudi Arabia's national guard – the elite security force deployed during the recent protests in Bahrain – in public order enforcement measures and the use of sniper rifles. The revelation has outraged human rights groups, which point out that the Foreign Office recognises that the kingdom’s human rights record is “a major concern”.

In response to questions made under the Freedom of Information Act, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed that British personnel regularly run courses for the national guard in “weapons, fieldcraft and general military skills training, as well as incident handling, bomb disposal, search, public order and sniper training”. The courses are organised through the British Military Mission to the Saudi Arabian National Guard, an obscure unit that consists of 11 British army personnel under the command of a brigadier.

The MoD response, obtained yesterday by the Observer, reveals that Britain sends up to 20 training teams to the kingdom a year. Saudi Arabia pays for “all BMM personnel, as well as support costs such as accommodation and transport”.

Bahrain’s royal family used 1,200 Saudi troops to help put down demonstrations in March. At the time the British government said it was “deeply concerned” about reports of human rights abuses being perpetrated by the troops.

"Britain’s important role in training the Saudi Arabian national guard in internal security over many years has enabled them to develop tactics to help suppress the popular uprising in Bahrain," said Nicholas Gilby of the Campaign Against Arms Trade.

Analysts believe the Saudi royal family is desperate to shore up its position in the region by preserving existing regimes in the Gulf that will help check the increasing power of Iran.

"Last year we raised concerns that the Saudis had been using UK-supplied and UK-maintained arms in secret attacks in Yemen that left scores of Yemeni civilians dead," said Oliver Sprague, director of Amnesty International’s UK Arms Programme.

Defence minister Nick Harvey confirmed to parliament last week that the UK’s armed forces provided training to the Saudi national guard. “It is possible that some members of the Saudi Arabian national guard which were deployed in Bahrain may have undertaken some training provided by the British military mission,” he said.

The confirmation that this training is focused on maintaining public order in the kingdom is potentially embarrassing for the government. Coming at the end of a week in which the G8 summit in France approved funding for countries embracing democracy in the wake of the Arab spring, it has led to accusations that the government’s foreign policy is at conflict with itself.

Jonathan Edwards, a Plaid Cymru MP who has tabled parliamentary questions to the MoD about its links to Saudi Arabia, said he found it difficult to understand why Britain was training troops for “repressive undemocratic regimes”. “This is the shocking face of our democracy to many people in the world, as we prop up regimes of this sort,” Edwards said. “It is intensely hypocritical of our leadership in the UK – Labour or Conservative – to talk of supporting freedoms in the Middle East and elsewhere while at the same time training crack troops of dictatorships.”

The MoD’s response was made in 2006, but when questioned this week it confirmed Britain has been providing training for the Saudi national guard to improve their “internal security and counter-terrorism” capabilities since 1964 and continues to do so. Members of the guard, which was established by the kingdom’s royal family because it feared its regular army would not support it in the event of a popular uprising, are also provided places on flagship UK military courses at Sandhurst and Dartmouth. In Saudi Arabia, Britain continues to train the guard in “urban sharpshooter” programmes, the MoD confirmed.

Last year, Britain approved 163 export licences for military equipment to Saudi Arabia, worth £110m. Exports included armoured personnel carriers, sniper rifles, small arms ammunition and weapon sights. In 2009, the UK supplied Saudi Arabia with CS hand grenades, teargas and riot control agents.

Sprague said a shake-up of the system licensing the supply of military expertise and weapons to foreign governments was overdue. “We need a far more rigorous case-by-case examination of the human rights records of those who want to buy our equipment or receive training.”

An MoD spokesman described the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, as “key partners” in the fight against terrorism. “By providing training for countries to the same high standards used by UK armed forces we help to save lives and raise awareness of human rights,” said the spokesman.

Labour MP Mike Gapes, the former chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said British military support for Saudi Arabia was about achieving a “difficult balance”.

"On the one hand Saudi Arabia faces the threat of al-Qaida but on the other its human rights record is dreadful. This is the constant dilemma you have when dealing with autocratic regimes: do you ignore them or try to improve them?"

Please help with collecting visual evidence of human rights violations in #Syria رصد المظاهرات بسوريا

Message from Monitoring Protests in Syria رصد المظاهرات بسوريا
We are now collecting convictions for security officers, Alcbihp for use in demanding Syrian referral to the ICC .. If you possessed the videos or images is available and to make certificates, please contact us at the following e-mail (ensure the confidentiality of data):

Yemen Rights Monitor: Hood Human Rights Org Docs+ Press Conference-on mass graves, other violations
From Hood Human Rights Organization
Press conference was held today. Documents are below and videos are here in Arabic. The first document is the doctor’s report referring to the bodies chopped up found in garbage cans in Beit Bous. It is one of the most promiment and also is the most quoated human rights organization in the Yemeni Press.

The conference discussed U.S. involvment supporting Saleh. Meanwhile, below are leaked documents to them about mass graves. Their spokesperson, Burman spoke to Mareb Press News Agency and stated that there were mass graves and bodies chopped up were found in garbage cans in Sanaa, distant Beit Bous suburb. Previously there was a report by Hood on 3 chopped up bodies found in a well at Beit Boos. These bodies were found after 100 taken hostage this past Weds. reports of the parts of the three corpses in a well surfaced after the last major massacre in Sanaa. Photo from http://www.إخبارية.net/ that says 50 kidnapped protesters may have been executed
Part II
Part III

Hood received leaked govt docs on the existance of mass graves. A copy exists below.

Translation of the most significant highlights of Hood’s Press conference May 15th in Sana’a 

National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms “HOOD” documents reveal the existence of a modern security cooperation relationship between the U.S. and Yemeni security is believed to be linked to the suppression of protests, which calls for ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Provided one of the documents attributed to William Mooney (a colonel in the U.S. Army, and the top U.S. military official in Yemen, and supplement the U.S. embassy in Sanaa) on January 17, 2011, carrying 252 addressed to the Yemeni Interior Minister Mutahar Rashad al-Masri, “that a U.S. military plane will arrive to Yemen where the plane will carry the equipment for special operations forces of Yemen and the Central Security Forces – and counter-terrorism unit. It is assumed that they arrived at Sana’a International Airport on January 19th, 2011.The shipment consists of RPG-7 launchers and special operations forces and indicators of risk and ammunition, smoke and light weapons and packs a safety valve for the Central Security Forces – and anti-terrorism units. As they have stated in the message to the American officer. According to Colonel William in his letter to the Egyptian brigade “All this equipment will be shipped by air directly to the Sana’a International Airport and to the representatives of the Central Security Forces and Special Operations Forces to receive such equipment.”

 Hood Revealed another documents addressed to the commander of Central Security from Rashad al-Masri, Minister of Interior on 07.04.2011 letter number (1130 p.) emphasizes that gas bombs being used in the suppression of protesters are already expired and is damaging to health. The letter ”with reference to the note by the Attorney-General (…) attached a copy of the medical report prepared by the committee charged with exploring the fact about the gas bombs that were used in the riots. That report concluded that the gas bombs that were used are already expired and must not be used in such cases , So  (. ..) We stress the need not to use this type of bombs since it cause serious & damaging  health problems. 

Another document revealed some security instructions of pursuing medical ambulances, which believed to be carrying the wounded protesters, who were shot by security forces and arrest them. In addition to private cars, believed to be belonging to activists or supporters of the revolution. That document was dated on April 28th, 2011 and was from the Ministry of Interior to the Director of Capital Security , directors of the security of the provinces, General Manager of Investigation , Director General of Traffic, the central security , police for help,  political security, national security, the Republican Guards and military police. The Document was appended below the name of 1st Lieutenant Abdullah Mohammed Jaman (Alternate operations officer)  and Major General corner Sadik Saleh Haid (General Manager of Operations). In that letter, the following was mentioned  ”requiring a research, investigation and arrest of the following cars immediately:

Medical ambulance Color White Model 2010 plate number  (11760 / 1 ) private.
Medical ambulance Color white 2010 model plate number  (11751 / 1) private.
Medical ambulance Color white 2010 model plate number  (11752 / 1) private.
Vitara car Color white 2009 model plate number  (93059 / 1) private.
Vitara car Color white 2010 model plate number  (55328 / 1) private.
Mercedes green Color plate number (19956 / 3) private.”

Other document with No. (2 / 602) on 28.04.2010 AD, from the Ministry of Interior to the same security services mentioned in the previous document,  requesting the arrest of any person from an area called “ Bait AL’Aley” located in Al-hima and any person from AL-Hadab area, wherever they are being found (these areas are within the outskirts of Sana’a), “and inform us with the results of execution, since that is critical and significant security issue.” These instructions  seem to be related to the clashes that took place between the forces of the Republican Guard recently and tribes over those areas.

Hood also spoke of its possession of official documents reveal the crimes committed by official orders and official complicity to conceal, other crimes committed, related to some political backgrounds.
Hood confirmed that it received information and testimonies written and documented about the central security forces and gunmen in civilian clothes attacking the demonstrators with live bullets, sharp weapons and poison gas on Saturday night 04/09/2011 in Zubairy Street and Ring Road, which led to the downfall of a number of dead and wounded. Hood quoted witnesses saying that ”Nearly 20 people were pulled to some personnel carriers and government vehicles transferred to an unknown destination and their  injuries were at the head, neck, chest, abdomen and some of them had died.” Also, confirmed that it had received ”certificates for a mass graves in the area of “ Bait Boss , body parts were found in trash barrels in that area, it is believed it belong to  protesters who were arrested during the massacre of Kentucky Round in Sana’a. Attorney General has received a notification of this.”
Below is the doctors’ report on the body parts found in Beit Bous.

The document below is orders to pursue following cars, including ambulances
Medical ambulance Color White Model 2010 plate number (11760 / 1 ) private.

Medical ambulance Color white 2010 model plate number (11751 / 1) private.

Medical ambulance Color white 2010 model plate number (11752 / 1) private.

Vitara car Color white 2009 model plate number (93059 / 1) private.

Vitara car Color white 2010 model plate number (55328 / 1) private.

Mercedes green Color plate number (19956 / 3) private.”

It says in document below that smoke bombs are expired and cause long term health problems, addressed to the interior minister Mr. Maisari

January 17 -2011- Doc below on receiving weapons from U.S. cc: Minister of Interior

Syria: Targeted Arrests of Activists Across Country | Human Rights Watch
(New York) - Syria’s security forces continue their nationwide campaign of arbitrary arrests and intimidation against political and human rights activists, holding them incommunicado, forcing them to sign undertakings to stop protesting, and in some cases torturing them, Human Rights Watch said today. 

“Syria’s leaders talk about a war against terrorists, but what we see on the ground is a war against ordinary Syrians - lawyers, human rights activists, and university students - who are calling for democratic changes in their country,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Syria’s emergency law may have been lifted on paper, but repression is still the rule on Syria’s streets.”

Human Rights Watch urged Syria’s authorities to immediately reveal the whereabouts of the targeted activists, to ensure that no harm is done to them in detention, and to release all those held for exercising their basic rights to free expression and association.

In some cases, the security forces have resorted to detaining relatives and neighbors of the government critics, in an effort to obtain information on their whereabouts or force them to stop their activism, prompting many activists to send their families into hiding.

On May 13, security forces detained human rights lawyer Catherine al-Talli, 32, in the Damascus suburb of Berze, at around 6 p.m. She was in a shared minivan taxi, when security forces stopped the vehicle, came on board and detained her, a family member told Human Rights Watch. The security services are holding her incommunicado and have not provided any information on her whereabouts. 

On May 12, security forces in Homs detained Mohammad Najati Tayyara, a prominent human rights activist who frequently appeared in the media to provide information on Syria’s crackdown on protests. Security forces picked him up off the streets of Homs, a friend of Tayyara told Human Rights Watch, and have not provided any information on his whereabouts since then. 

On May 11, security forces detained Wael Hamadeh, a political activist and husband of prominent rights advocate Razan Zeitouneh, from his office. The security forces had gone to the couple’s house on April 30 searching for them but detained instead Hamadeh’s younger brother Abdel Rahman, 20, when they could not find them. The couple had been staying with different friends to avoid being caught. To date, there is still no information about Abdel Rahman Hamadeh’s whereabouts.  Zeitouneh told Human Rights Watch:

I don’t know what made Wael go to work. He had stopped going lately. We don’t know which security service picked him up. We just know that they showed up at his office and took him.

Security forces also detained nine people after a peaceful sit-in at Arnous Square, in central Damascus, on May 10, and released only two, dermatologist Dr. Mazen al-Sayyid and student Ahmad al-Qattan. Syrian authorities have sought to try Jalal Nofal, a psychologist, and Ammar Ayruka in court on charges of provoking a riot, for their role in the demonstration. According to an activist, their lawyer reported seeing signs of torture, including beatings, on their faces. The remaining five - Ammar Dayoub, Malak al-Shanawani, Mohannad Amin Hussein, Ali Omar, and Omar al-Katib - have not been heard from since their arrests.

This is the second arrest in a month for Malak al-Shanawani, a women’s rights activist, first detained at her workplace on April 10 for participating in anti-government protests.

“The Syrian government is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to detain and punish every last voice for civil society reform in the country,” said Whitson.

Activists have told Human Rights Watch that the security forces are exerting enormous pressure on their families and neighbors, forcing many to send their own families into hiding. A prominent opposition activist, who preferred not to publish his name for fear of further reprisals against his family, told Human Rights Watch:

They went to my home and broke the door; when they couldn’t find anyone there, they went to my neighbor. They asked him if he could tell them where they could find me, my wife, or one of my children. He refused, so they arrested him. But he is a known Ba`ath supporter, so they released him after 10 hours. They then went to my wife’s shop and did the same thing with two men who own a grocery store and electronics shop near her workplace. One was in prison for two days, and the other is still in prison now. My wife and small child are now living in one place, and my other two children in another. I am in hiding in Damascus, changing my location every two days.

Razan Zeitouneh told Human Rights Watch that she had asked her elderly parents to go into hiding because she could not bear the thought of the security forces detaining them to exert pressure on her.

A veteran 67-year-old human rights activist from Salamiyeh, a city in central Syria that is home to the Middle East largest group of Isma`ili muslims, told Human Rights Watch that a group of 30 young men, many on motorcycles, drove up to his house on May 13 at around 3pm:

They drove up and started throwing stones on my house. I was out, and only female members of the family were inside. They had to rush to close the shutters. They kept throwing rocks for 15 minutes. They want to terrorize us. I am worried for my family. We were able to recognize some of the attackers. Some work as bodyguards for the head of local branch of the Ba`ath party.

The Salamiyeh activist, whom security services had detained for 24 hours on May 10 along with another 69 protesters and activists from the town, told Human Rights Watch that the aim of the arrest and intimidation campaign was to force activists to sign undertakings to stop protesting.

Another Damascus-based activist who was recently detained and released concurred:

They are obsessed with the protests. They just want them to stop and are willing to do anything to make them stop. Those refusing to sign the undertakings get referred to criminal trials for inciting riots or risk seeing security forces showing up at their home, office, or even their spouse’s office.

“When families and neighbors of wanted activists are fair game for the security services and their Ba`ath thug agents, you know that the government is morally bankrupt,” said Whitson “Behind the empty rhetoric of promises and national dialogue, there is a systematic campaign to rebuild Syria’s wall of fear with only one purpose: allowing Asad and his cronies to maintain their absolute grip on power.”

Human Rights Watch has called for sanctions against Syrian officials who bear responsibility for the use of lethal force against peaceful protesters and the arbitrary detention and torture of hundreds of protesters and for an international investigation into the grave human rights violations in Syria.

The United States and European Union have imposed sanctions on certain high-ranking officials in the regime but have so far avoided imposing sanctions on President Bashar al-Asad. On April 29, the UN Human Rights Council called for an urgent investigation by the UN high commissioner for human rights into killings and other human rights violations in Syria.