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Syrian Blogger Hussein Ghrer on Hunger Strike in Protest of His Fifth Month in Detention
Front Line Defenders has learned that Syrian blogger Hussein Ghrer began a hunger strike to protest his continued incarceration after spending more than five months in detention.
Ghrer was detained on 16 February 2012 in a raid on the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression's office in Damascus by Air Force Intelligence - Mazzah branch (see Syria: 14 Human Rights Defenders arbitrarily arrested and taken to an unknown location). This was Ghrer's second arrest - he was detained on 24 October 2011 and released on 1 December 2011 on bail and is still on trial in that case.
Air Force Intelligence had confiscated computers and arrested the entire staff of the Syrian Center along with their visitors. Eight employees were released and they are now facing a military trial on charges of "disseminating banned publications." The other five staff members are still in detention: Director of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, Mazen Darwish, Hussein Ghrer, Abdel Rahman Hamada, Hani Zetani and Mansour Al-Omari.
We learned that Abdel Rahman Hmada, Hani Zitani and Mansour Al- Omari were transferred from Air Force Intelligence – Mazzah branch, to a detention center belonging to the 4th Brigade of the Syrian Army. Our sources also mentioned that Mazen Darwish was transferred from his cell in AFI – Mazzeh Branch, but it is unknown if his transfer was to another branch or inside the same one.
Syrian blogger Hussein Ghrer, on the other hand, was transferred alone from AFI – Mazzah to AFI in in Tahrir Square in Damascus, where he began a hunger strike to protest his continued detention.
Ghrer is a prominent Syrian blogger known for his participation in Syrian blogosphere debates on public affairs. He took part in solidarity campaigns with occupied Palestine and the occupied Golan as well.
33 year-old Ghrer is a Computer Science graduate. He is married with two children, Ward and Zain.
Ghrer suffers from hypertensive vascular disease and mitral valve prolapse. Colleagues fear a deterioration in his health condition in Syrian detention cells, known for their poor environmental, psychological and physical conditions. The detention centers’ environment and their lack of the necessary medical equipment may pose a direct threat to his life.
Front Line Defenders calls on the Syrian authorities to immediately release Hussein Ghrer as well as his other detained colleagues from the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression.