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Beirut, 03/08/2010

The Syrian opposition activist Suheir Atassi faces the risk of arrest

(07/03/2010) – SKeyes – Damascus

The Syrian activist and opposition leader Suheir Atassi is coming under
intense pressure to shut down a chat group she had set up on Facebook
recently. She was summoned three times by the State Security Service to
force her to shut down the chat forum. Her ID card was confiscated and she
was threatened with a prison sentence of no less than two and a half years,
according to what Syrian media and human rights sources reported to
SKeyes on Sunday night.
In a telephone conversation with SKeyes, the Syrian human rights activist
Malath Omran recounted the details of what had happened with Suheir
Atassi and said: “They asked her to come for a fourth time but she refused
to, and said “I will not come and subject myself to humiliation at your hands
and to the long waiting hours. You already know what I have to say...either
give me back my ID card or arrest me. I have already prepared a bag for
prison””.
Suheir Attassi, along with a group of young Syrian activists, had re-launched
the Jamal Attassi National Dialogue Forum, but this time on Facebook, after
the Syrian authorities closed down the Forum‟s headquarters in the capital
Damascus in 2005.
To date, the online forum discussed six papers regarding issues related to
public Syrian affairs, including two papers entitled “Syrian youths and
participation in public affairs”, and “nonviolent struggle” written by the
Syrian journalist Ahmad Mawloud Tayyar.
The most recent issue raised by the forum was the one presented by the
Syrian journalist Hassan Shams from the occupied Golan, in which he spoke
about his experience and about the Syrian authorities‟ failure to endorse the
cause of the Golani immigrants. The paper was entitled “Golani concerns:
the tragedy of the immigrants as an example”.
A source in the Syrian press in Damascus who asked not to be named said
that a number of summonses and harassments that Atassi was subjected to at

Samir Kassir Foundation, Aref Saghieh Bldg.( Ground Floor), 63, Zahrani St., Sioufi, Achrafieh, Beirut, Lebanon
Tel /Fax: 00961 1 397334, Mobile: 00961 3 372717, E-Mail Address: info@skeyesmedia.org
the State Security Service came as a result of her comments on the two
dialogue papers connected to the Golan and the Kurdish question.
Commenting on the pressures facing Atassi, the journalist Hassan Shams
said in a telephone conversation with SKeyes on Sunday night that the
Syrian authorities “should be ashamed of themselves. What I said regarding
the Israeli occupation both past and present is many times more
consequential than what I said and wrote about the totalitarian regime that
governs my country. This is despite the fact that they are both equally
oppressive. Yet, I was never summoned [by Israel] and left their airport with
my dignity unscathed. Also, no threat messages were sent to my mobile
phone by the occupation, like our „resistance‟ regime did”.
Shams then continued: “Concerning the issues I raised in the paper I
presented in Atassi‟s forum, and on the basis of which Suheir addressed
facts, numbers and questions, the regime should have answered them and
discussed them”.
Shams who requested that his statement be published in full then added:
“shame on them that although the Syrian radars were bombed in Dahr al-
Baydar (East Lebanon – 2001), and the Ayn Shab and Deir el-Zour sites
destroyed (2008), and although Israeli warplanes flew over their beautiful
palaces, they responded by negotiating with Israel while they respond to the
peaceful Syrian people with further crackdown, terrorism, brutality,
summonses and arrests”.
Shams then expressed his regret for the harassments faced by Atassi, and
said: “I talked with Suheir yesterday (Saturday), and she is fully convinced
of what she is doing and is determined to refuse the dictates of the regime by
caving in or shutting down the online forum. She packed her things and is
ready to move from the large prison to the smaller one with pride and
dignity”.
He concluded by saying: “Suheir Atassi‟s only crime is that she is seeking a
free country that is worthy of her and us, a country that does not resemble
the gang that currently rules it. The last thing she told me was „do not worry
about me‟”.

Samir Kassir Foundation, Aref Saghieh Bldg.( Ground Floor), 63, Zahrani St., Sioufi, Achrafieh, Beirut, Lebanon
Tel /Fax: 00961 1 397334, Mobile: 00961 3 372717, E-Mail Address: info@skeyesmedia.org