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"My husband jailed for defending press freedom"

Yara Bader's appeal for the release of Mazen Darwish

Jailed journalist Mazen Darwish

Jailed journalist Mazen Darwish US Center for International Religious Freedom

Syrian journalist Yara Bader, co-director together with  her husband of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, wrote a letter to British paper The Guardian to demand his release after over one year in prison. 

"In a country where everything is forbidden except for applause, everything is bound to security, which is in the hands of very few people, and none of the fighting groups recognizes freedom of expression, my husband is detained in inhumane conditions because he speaks a language that few in Syria understand, a language in which the words human rights, ethics of journalism and freedom of expression still retain their value".

According to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Mazen Darwish was first illegali kidnapped for nine months, during which he was severely tortured, and then deferred to the central prison of the city of Hama.

For the Syrian authorities his center violated article 8 of Anti-terrorism act, "destabilizing the domestic situation to ensure  that the international organizations would condemn Syria in all forums.

Actually, he had simply criticized a law of 8 March 1963 forbidding all kinds of gathering, political opinions different from the regime's and independent journalism: "One day will come in which no group, government or regime will hold the monopoly of the truth or hide it as a whole or in part, even in times of iron walls, one-sided ideologies and closed societies".

According to his wife, Mazen Darwish drew inspiration directly from journalists like  Edward R. Murrow, the US reporter who exposed the repressive plots of Senator McCarthy, and the editors of Charlie Hebdo, whom everybody is mourning today. Furthermore, he shared the need for profound humanity expressed by Chaplin in the world-famous monologue at the end of The Great Dictator.

Yara Bader concluded by writing: "With our words, we will resist this reality as prisoners of time, because when we defend people like these, we defend humanity, an ideal that will never perish".

Mazen Darwish won the prize Writer of Courage of International PEN Club in 2014. He was remembered by Rana Zaitouneh as she came to Italy to participate in the European Day of the Righteous and together with Gariwo she demanded the liberation of her sister Razan

26 March 2015

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