Though many of us watched with glee as Bridget Jones interviewed Mark Darcy about his help in freeing his human rights activist client, such warm and fuzzy endings are not always the case. Activists who put their lives on the line for their causes are captured, imprisoned and even killed for trying to create positive change all of the time—and we don’t normally hear about it.
Take, for example, Mohanad Al-Hasani. He is a lawyer as well as a human rights activist from Syria. (Sounds rather like Mark Darcy, right?) He’s also the president of the Syrian Human Rights Organization, or Swasiah, as well as a serving monitor of the State Security Court.
The State Security Court is much like something straight out of George Orwell’s 1984. It’s a controversial intelligence agency out of Syria (though other countries have them as well) that exists outside the normal state government to keep an eye on—and “prosecute”—those who would disagree with, protest and possibly create conflict with the government—people like Mohanad Al-Hasani.
According to Human Rights Watch, the State Security Court has used fake trials to prosecute at least 153 such people—such as bloggers, activist, and even people who are said to have “insulted the president” in private conversations!
Boy, if I lived in Syria, I would have been prosecuted a million times over during the past two presidential terms.
Now Al-Hasani faces a similar fate. On July 28, he was detained because of his role in monitoring the State Security Court after repeated questioning. He is currently held in Adra prison, which is located in Damascus.
This follows over three years of constant harassment from the Court, during which security employees have destroyed his notes while he witnessed trials. The head prosecutor of the Court has argued that his notes were “revealing secrets” and that Al-Hasani was in fact “committing felonies” by taking the notes in the first place.
Of course, note-taking is not illegal in the country; nor is witnessing the trials held, according to Syrian laws. In fact, they are open to the public.
Since then, Al-Hasani has been charged with “weakening national sentiment” and “spreading false or exaggerated information.”
We must speak up against these ludicrous charges and try to win Al-Hasani his freedom back. To send your own message to the President of Syria, Bashar Al-Assad and the Syrian Minister of Justice, Muhammad Al-Ghafri, click here.