Syrian dissidents on trial

Twelve accused in Damascus deny harming the state and spreading false information.

    Freedom of expression briefly improved when al-Assad came to power [GALLO/GETTY]

    In a statement, the NOHRS said: "They rejected all accusations made against them and stressed that the Damascus Declaration was not an undertaking [carried out] in a secret manner and that its aim was to defend the homeland."    

    It is the biggest collective trial of Syrian dissidents since 2001 after the so-called Damascus Spring, the brief period of relative freedom of expression that followed Bashar al-Assad's, Syria's president, rise to power in 2000.    

    The court adjourned the case until August 26.    

    Among those being tried are Fidaa Horani, president of the NCDD, Ali Abdallah, a writer, Walid Bunni, a doctor, Akram Bunni, a writer and secretary of the NCDD, and Riad Seif, a former member of Syria's parliment.    

    The 12 are charged with "spreading false information which weakens the morale of the nation and national sentiment, joining a secret organisation with the aim of modifying the nation's political and economic status, incitng racial and sectarian dissent and harming the state," according to Syrian non-governmental organisations.    

    Several lawyers and Western diplomats attended the trial opening.    

    The NOHRS called on the authorities "immediately to release all detainees" in Syria and "halt proceedings against them so as to consolidate national unity and preserve citizens' rights to free speech guaranteed by Syria's constitution and the international human rights charter".    

    Another human rights group, the Syrian League for the Defence of Human Rights, denounced the trial of political activists and also called for their immediate release.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'It takes a village to kill a child': Uganda's hidden children

    'It takes a village to kill a child': Uganda's hidden children

    Faced with stigma and abuse, many children with disabilities are hidden indoors, with few options for specialised care.

    Medieval Arabic cookbooks: Reviving the taste of history

    Medieval Arabic cookbooks: Reviving the taste of history

    A growing number of cookbooks have been translated into English, helping bring old foods to new palates.

    India-China border row explained in seven maps

    India-China border row explained in seven maps

    Seven maps to help you understand the situation on the ground and what's at stake for nearly three billion people.