Securing Urgent Justice for Detainees in Syria
Why It Matters:This week it was announced that Bassel Khartabil Safadi, the Syrian internet activist widely credited with opening up the internet in Syria, was executed by the Syrian regime in October 2015 at the age of 34. He had been held in detention since his arrest in March 2012 during a Syrian regime crackdown on peaceful protesters, and his fate had been unknown for the past two years. During the Syrian Revolution, Bassel was repeatedly targeted by the regime for helping Syrians evade regime surveillance and online censorship using open source software. Despite these attacks, he remained a firm free culture advocate and active Wikipedia contributor, serving as Creative Commons’ Syrian project lead. Foreign Policy magazine ranked Bassel as the 19th most influential thinker in 2012 for “insisting, against all odds, on a peaceful Syrian revolution.”
Today, tens of thousands of Syrians remain in Syrian regime custodywhere torture and mass executions are rampant. Bassel’s tragic death is an urgent reminder of the need for the international community to take decisive action to release those unlawfully held in detention and to hold the Syrian regime accountable for their crimes.