The UN’s cultural body today awarded its annual press freedom prize to Syrian journalist and rights activist Mazen Darwish who has been jailed by the Assad regime for more than three years. Darwish was arrested on February 16, 2012 along with Hani Zaitani and Hussein Ghreir, his colleagues at the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression. They are accused of “promoting terrorist acts.”
The award will be handed over to Darwish’s wife by the UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova at a ceremony in Riga, which will be attended by Lithuanian President Andris Berzins.
Spokesman for the Syrian Coalition Salem al-Meslet calls on the UN Security Council to put pressure on the Assad regime to implement the Un resolution 2139 urging the release of all detainees in Syria. He also calls on as the International Red Cross’s mission to organize visits to detention centers to check on the safety of detainees and report on their status.
Meslet stresses that the file of detainees in Assad’s secret jails is a top priority for the Syrian Coalition, adding that “we constantly raise the issue of the detainees in all our meetings with Arab, international and UN officials and call upon them to exercise pressure on the Assad regime to release the detainees and alleviate their suffering. “No-one must forget the role of activists who have been detained by Assad’s security forces, and that almost every Syrian person has a brother, a friend or relative who is waiting a bleak fate in Assad’s secret jails.” (Source: Syrian Coalition + Agencies)