By Alyxandra Stanczak
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
DAMASCUS, Syria – Student and blogger Tal Bint Dawser al-Ballouhi was summoned on 27 December 2009 by Syria’s intelligence apparatus, the Syrian Intelligence Services. The goal of the summoning was to interrogate al-Ballouhi about articles and poetry she wrote about her home country, Palestine, as well as Syrian and Arab affairs in general. After her interrogation, she was arrested and detained, and her family has not seen or heard from her since her disappearance.
Syrian authorities seized al-Mallouhi’s computer from her Damasucus home after her detainment. Al-Mallouhi specifically criticized the Partnership for the Mediterranean (an EU initiative to reach out economically to certain Arab countries), a French diplomatic initiative bringing together Arab and European countries, as well as Israel. The Syrian authorities have not commented on her arrest, which is common in the arrest of political activists.
Al-Mallouhi’s situation is not unique, as many Syrian bloggers have been arrested and sentenced to long prison terms. Syrians have turned to the internet as an outlet of news and information since print media in the country is largly regulated and censored by the government. Blogging has allowed citizens to express their opinions and obtain news to which they would otherwise not have access.
Al-Mallouhi’s Mother has appealed to Syrian president Bashar Assad and has attempted to make compelling pleas to the government for her daughter’s release. She has even gone so far as to talk to specific Syrian security branches and obtained a promise from one security branch that her daughter would be released before Eid ul-Fitr, or the end of Ramadan, which this year occurs on 10 September 2010. Al-Mallouhi’s mother does not believe this security branch will honor their deadline and is petitioning President Assad to intervene, citing that her daughter, who is a high-school student, did not know the political implications of her writings.
For more information, please see:
Arab News – Mother of young Syrian blogger appeals for her release – 3 September 2010
The Peninsula – Arrested blogger’s mom writes to Assad – 3 September 2010
Syrian Human Rights Committee – Humanitarian campaign for the release of prisoners of conscience – 2 July 2010