New York, N.Y., Sept. 29 -- In a letter hand-delivered today
to Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Sharaa, the Committee to Protect
Journalists (CPJ) urgently appealed to the Syrian government to release
Nizar Nayyouf, the imprisoned journalist, writer, and human rights
activist, and to ensure that he receive immediate and thorough medical
Nayyouf is gravely ill and may die unless he receives immediate treatment
for Hodgkin's disease, a form of cancer that can be successfully treated
with proper medical attention. Syrian authorities have reportedly
refused him treatment for this disease unless he pledges to refrain
from political activity and renounces alleged "false statements" he
made about the human rights situation in Syria.
CPJ's Vice Chairman Terry Anderson, a former Associated Press correspondent
who was held hostage by Islamist militants in Lebanon for seven years,
said: "Nizar Nayyouf has committed no recognizable offense under international
law. He is in prison solely for practicing his right to free expression
by speaking out about human rights in Syria. In light of Mr. Nayyouf's
grave illness, CPJ calls on the Syrian government to release him from
prison immediately on humanitarian grounds and ensure that he receives
immediate and thorough medical attention."
Nayyouf, a leading member of the independent Committees for the Defense
of Democratic Freedoms and Human Rights in Syria (CDF) and editor
in chief of its monthly Sawt al-Democratiyya, was arrested in January
1992 and later convicted by the Supreme State Security Court of being
a member of an unauthorized organization and of disseminating false
information. He is currently serving a 10-year sentence in solitary
confinement at Mezze military prison in Damascus.
In addition to Hodgkin's disease, Mr. Nayyouf suffers from several
other serious ailments, including partial paralysis of his legs, kidney
failure, and deteriorating eyesight.
to read a copy of the letter that was hand-delivered to Foreign Minister
to add your voice to the campaign to free Nizar Nayyouf.