URGENT: Dr. Kamal Labwani placed in solitary confinement in Syrian jail
Human rights activists in Damascus have relayed the news that Dr. Kamal al-Labwani, a peaceful Syrian political activist who has been in jail since November 8, 2005, has been placed in solitary confinement by Syrian authorities since Wednesday March 21, 2007. Dr. Labwani had a hearing in court on March 19, 2007, and delivered a personal statement (to be posted in the near future) to the court after hiding it from prison guards.
Friends and relatives of Dr. Labwani are worried for his health and mental situation because, according to reports, he is in solitary confinement in a small, underground, rat-infested room with no lights, shoes, or washing facilities. He is allowed only small portions of food and water, and it is too cold for him to sleep at night.
It should also be noted that Dr. Labwani's transfer into solitary confinement should be understood as being a response to his appearance in court two days prior, where he and his lawyers delivered statements to the court. Dr. Labwani's attorney, Muhannad al-Hasani, was called to the Security Services for interrogation three times in the days immediately following his appearance in court to defend Dr. Labwani on March 19. It is believed that both the interrogations and the transfer into solitary confinement are retaliatory actions by the Syrian authorities meant to intimidate the prisoner and his attorney into further silence. Mr. Hasani's defense statement to the court is available below as an attachment in Arabic (if you are able to translate it into English, please do so and let us know so that we can post it).
Please help spread awareness regarding Dr. Labwani's continued detainment, especially in such inhumane conditions, by writing letters to the press, congressional representatives, and others with access to the public sphere calling for Dr. Labwani's release. If you run a blog or website, please consider posting this news there in hopes that it may reach a wider audience. For more information, please visit Dr. Labwani's profile on this website by clicking here.
If you would like to further help the cause of political prisoners in the Middle East, please read this.
Update Mar 28 2007: Mr. Hasani's defense statement in Arabic has been attached below. Dr. Labwani's personal statement should be posted soon.