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Middle East
Syrian blogger's release demanded
Human Rights Watch says writer has been detained for nine months with no contact from family, apparently over her blog.
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2010 11:34 GMT

Syria's government has been widely criticised for its human rights record [GALLO/GETTY]

Human Rights Watch has urged the Syrian government to free a 19-year-old female blogger who has been held incommunicado for nine months, apparently due to the contents of her blog.

Security services summoned Tal al-Mallohi on December 27 and immediately detained her, the New York-based rights group said.

Two days later, security officers went to al-Mallohi's house and confiscated her computer, some CDs, books and other belongings, the group said in a release on Monday.

Since her arrest, al-Mallohi has not been able to contact her family and authorities have not offered an explanation for her incarceration, according to HRW.

"Detaining a high school student for nine months without charge is typical of the cruel, arbitrary behavior of Syria's security services," Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said.

Al-Mallohi's parents told HRW that their daughter, who is in her last year of high school, does not belong to any political group.

This is my country, where I posses a palm tree..

A drop of rain within the clouds...

A grave to contain my dead body...

Sir !!! I wish to take over power, even for a single day

So I can establish a "republic for wisdom"

But wisdom calls the lame Not to break his baton

Over his enemy's head

Tal al-Mallohi, jailed blogger and poet

Some Syrian activists have expressed concern that security services may have detained her over a poem she wrote criticising certain restrictions on freedom of expression in Syria, according to HRW.

Much of the blog focuses on poetry, expressed in implicit or symbolic form, rather than overt political commentary about the Syrian government. "If you can only see what is highlighted, can only hear what is voiced, in reality you neither see, nor hear," reads a translation of one passage.

'Trampling citizens rights'

On September 1, al-Mallohi's mother issued a public appeal to Bashar al-Asad, Syria's president, urging him to provide her with information about her daughter.

"A government that thinks it can get away with trampling the rights of its citizens has lost all connection to its people," Whitson said.

Al-Mallohi's blog shows a picture of Gandhi, the famed Indian pacifist, with the quote: "You will remain an example."

Her blog contains poetry and social commentary, focusing mostly on the suffering of Palestinians.

Al-Mallohi is not the only person held by Syrian authorities because of writing or political activism.

Several Syrian rights groups have issued a joint statement expressing deep concern at what they called "the disappearance through force of several Syrians in recent times".

Rights activist held

Another case concerns Ismail Abdi, a human rights activist whose whereabouts have been unknown since his arrest at Aleppo airport on August 23.

Abdi, who also holds German nationality, had been visiting his native Syria when he went missing, said the statement signed by three groups including the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Abdi - a father of three who heads the German branch of the Committee for the Defence of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights in Syria - had published a list of 600 people arrested or tortured in Syria.

"We haven't head any word from him since" his arrest, Farah, his 20-year-old daughter said on September 10.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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