US embassy cable - 05DAMASCUS6509

HUMAN RIGHTS ROUNDUP: PROMINENT ACTIVIST CONSIDERS RELOCATION TO EUROPE; HUMAN RIGHTS DAY DEMONSTRATION STOPPED BY POLICE; GOETHE INSTITUTE LECTURE ON IRAQ POLICY CANCELLED

Identifier: 05DAMASCUS6509
Wikileaks: View 05DAMASCUS6509 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Damascus
Created: 2005-12-14 14:44:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PHUM SY
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXYZ0017
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDM #6509 3481444
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 141444Z DEC 05
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6162
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0552
C O N F I D E N T I A L DAMASCUS 006509 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
PARIS FOR ZEYA, LONDON FOR TSOU 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/12/2015 
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, SY 
SUBJECT: HUMAN RIGHTS ROUNDUP: PROMINENT ACTIVIST CONSIDERS 
RELOCATION TO EUROPE; HUMAN RIGHTS DAY DEMONSTRATION 
STOPPED BY POLICE; GOETHE INSTITUTE LECTURE ON IRAQ POLICY 
CANCELLED 
 
REF: DAMASCUS 6075 
 
Classified By: CDA Stephen Seche for reasons 1.4(b)/(d) 
 
 
1.  (C)  PROMINENT ACTIVIST MULLS RELOCATION TO UK:  Civil 
society and women's rights activist Maan Abdul Salaam told 
PolOff and visiting NEA Senior Advisor David Denehy on 
December 7 that he is considering relocating to the United 
Kingdom following recent difficulties with Syrian security 
services.  Abdul Salaam, the owner of the Etana Press 
publishing house, organized the recent conference on Women 
and Tradition (reftel).  During the conference, Abdul Salaam 
distributed copies of a book by journalist Louay Hossein 
highly critical of the hejab (the Islamic headscarf.) 
 
2.  (C)  Despite having received official permission from the 
Ministry of Information for the publication and distribution 
of the book, Abdul Salaam came under enormous official and 
unofficial criticism following the conference.  He received 
threats from Islamists, the University of Damascus, and the 
University security apparatus.  After receiving a summons to 
appear at meeting with the security services, Abdul Salaam 
fled to Lebanon for ten days and only returned to Syria 
because was unable to depart Lebanon for a third country 
without his Syrian passport.  Abdul Salaam then met the head 
of an unidentified security branch for a five and a half hour 
interrogation on December 1, during which he received a 
lecture on the importance of Islam from his Ba'athist 
interrogator and was threatened with three years in prison. 
Abdul Salaam informed Poloff and Senior Advisor Denehy that 
he would be traveling to London in late December to 
investigate the potential of relocating to the UK where he 
feels he could work more independently and without government 
interference. 
 
3.   (C)  SMALL HUMAN RIGHTS DEMONSTRATION SHUT DOWN BY 
POLICE: A small demonstration held by Kurdish activists to 
commemorate Human Rights Day was broken up by police forces 
on December 10.  According to human rights activist Anwar 
al-Bunni, approximately 50-100 Kurds attended the rally held 
in Saba'a Bahrad Square near the Central Bank of Syria. 
About 200 police officers were also present.  They disrupted 
the demonstration and began beating demonstrators with 
sticks.  However, no demonstrators were arrested.  According 
to Bunni, the event was organized by the Kurdish Azadi, 
Yekiti, and Kurdish Tayer Mustaqbal parties; other opposition 
groups, including the Damascus Declaration supporters, chose 
not to participate, feeling that such an act would be too 
dangerous and they did not want to "put themselves in front 
of the gun," according to Bunni. 
 
4.  (C)  GERMAN CULTURAL CENTER FORCED TO CANCEL EVENT: The 
Damascus branch of the Goethe Institute, the worldwide German 
cultural organization, was forced to cancel a lecture by 
leading civil society activist Abdul Razzaq Eid on Aspects of 
Germany's Iraq Policy.  The Goethe Institute management 
distributed an e-mail to its mailing list on December 11, 
informing subscribers that the lecture was canceled "as we 
were not granted permission for the Arabic contribution." 
According to a German diplomat, Razzaq Eid's presentation 
made heavy use of veiled language about the Iraqi Ba'ath 
Party to criticize the Syrian Ba'ath Party.    (NOTE: The 
Goethe Institute has held a number of similar lectures 
throughout the fall, featuring other prominent Syrians like 
Michel Kilo and MP Suleiman Haddad.) 
SECHE 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04