Urgent – Syria: Death in detention of activist Ghiyath Matter, Fear for the life of fellow activist Yahya Sharbaji
Human Rights Watch: Today, the body of Ghiyath Mattar, 26, was returned to his family in Daraya, a suburb of Damascus. Ghiyath was a leading activist in Daraya who played a key role in organizing antigovernment protests (his photo is attached). A friend of Ghiyath who saw his upper body today said that there were bruises on the chest, and his face had traces of wounds. Security forces (most likely Air Force intelligence according to friends and relatives) had detained Ghiyath on September 6 with another leading protest organizer in Daraya, Yahya Sharbaji.
Given the death in detention of Ghiyath, Human Rights Watch is gravely concerned about the wellbeing of Yahya. It is very important to publicize the case of Yahya in the hope that it provides him with some sort of protection. The friends and family of Yahya are very worried about his fate.
Below are the details as documented by Human Rights Watch so far:
In the early hours of September 6, security forces detained Yahya Sharbaji, a leading non-violent protest organizer in Daraya, and his friend Ghiyath Mattar, from their car while driving to the Damascus suburb of Sehnaya, according to one of Sharbaji’s relatives who lives in Sehnaya and saw the security forces’ cars chasing them. Sharbaji last called home at 7 a.m., then both men stopped answering their phones within 20 minutes of their departure. Mattar’s family later received a phone call from an air force intelligence officer, who said he captured the pair and threatened to harm them.
Sharbaji had been hiding from the security forces since March 15, when security forces seized his ID card, camera, and mobile phone at a sit-in in front of the Ministry of Interior. He set out with Mattar to Sehnaya after he had received a call from his brother Mohammad (known as Ma`en) Sharbaji, at 5 a.m. that day, telling him he had been shot by the security forces after they raided the house and arrested three of his friends. Activists and friends believe that security forces had detained Ma`en and forced him to make the call, a common security force tactic, as he can also not be found. Mattar’s body was returned to his family on September 10 after he was tortured to death in detention, according to activists who saw his body. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43DNtud8qe4&feature=youtu.be
Video of leader of Darya Coordination Committee Yahya Shurbaji: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fLdS3_d090&feature=youtu.be [click on 'cc' below the picture for sub-titles]
Update: Daraya (11/09/2011): This is the funeral of Ahmad Ayrutt, 17 years old. He was shot dead yesterday while attending the funeral of his friend Ghayath Mattar. Other funerals took place in Idleb, Homs, and other parts of Damascus. For many people Syrian daily life seems to revolve around protesting, martyrs fall, funerals, martyrs fall again, protests again …
13 September 2011:
The Syrian Days Of Rage – English: Several foreign ambassadors to Syria have travelled to the district of Daraya, near the capital Damascus, to attend a condolence ceremony for a prominent slain Syrian activist, opposition sources said.
21:42 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Tuesday in Daraya, near Damascus, shows the US and French Ambassadors to Syria sitting among the people at a condolence ceremony for slain Syrian activist Ghiyath Matar.
21:17 Syrian security forces attacked the condolence ceremony of slain Syrian activist Ghiyath Matar in Daraya after US, French envoys left the area, Al-Arabiya television reported.
17 September 2011
Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre: This is a note written by Ghayath Mattar directed to the security forces: “You and I are brothers. If I were in your place I wouldn’t kill peaceful protesters. The country is enough for all. Please let us protest peacefully.”
The regime and it’s apologists always talk about armed extremists but they fear people like Ghayath a lot more. Why else would extremists be released from jail while activists like Ghayath are arrested, tortured and killed?
Syria – The Syrian government should stop harassing the family of the martyr Ghiath Matar
Syrian television is following the family of Ghiath Matar to force them to tell fake stories about the death of their son.
Local Coordination Committees in Syria (LCC) have said that the Syrian authorities should stop harassing the family of the martyr Ghiath Matar, and stop threatening his family members. The family of Ghiath woke up today to find the walls of their home filled with sentences saying “Down with the Matar family for hosting the American Ambassador”, in reference to the visit of 5 western ambassadors to the wake of martyr Matar where they expressed their condolences to the family of the martyr.
The LCC have said: “There is a history to harassing the family of the martyr Matar which dates back to before he was killed. His brother Anas Matar was detained for almost two months and was not release until Ghiath was killed. His other brother, Hazem, his father, and one of his relatives were also detained and then released later. However, harassment continued until Ghiath was martyred where some officers in airforce intelligence, the security service division who arrested the martyr Matar and who are responsible for his death under torture, called the family of Ghiath and threatened them until they told them that their son is detained and that they will return him dead. Airforce intelligence forces attacked the funeral of Martyr Ghiath Matar and opened fire on mourners, killing young man Ahmad Ayrout. The next day, agents from security services and airforce intelligence went to the wake of Ayrout, and claimed that they were there for paying respects. Then Addounia TV station (which accompanied the agents to the wake) asked the family of Ayrout to claim that Ghiath Matar was the one who killed Ahmad. The family of Ayrout refused and they pointed to the killed who was with security agents in the wake”
Hozan Ibrahim, the spokesperson of Local Coordination Committees in Syria said: “Only in Syria, sufferings of activists don’t end by their martyrdom, but are extended to their funerals and wakes and maybe even more, harassments to martyr Ghiath’s family can not be imagined, security forces did not stop at killing their 26 years son”
Syrian authorities didn’t stop at opening live fire on the funeral of martyr Ghiath, they’ve surrounded the wake and prevented people from reaching the area to pay their respects to his family, and after the five ambassadors arrived to the condolences tent, air-force intelligence surrounded the tent and stopped people from getting in, one person at least was arrested, his name is Osama Myassar Ziadah.
Ibrahim added: “The martyr’s family is under immense pressure to condemn the visit of the five ambassadors to condole them, Syrian TV is still chasing the family, accompanied by security forces, to force them to give a false story about Matar’s cause of death, in short, you can’t imagine what the family is going through”: the local coordinating committees in Syria
Al Arabiya: “A few days after he was arrested, Syrian activist Ghayath Mattar was returned by security forces to his family as a corpse. The condition of his body not only spoke of the torture to which he was subjected before his death, but also showed clear signs that some of his organs were taken right after his death.”
Syrian rights group says activists subjected to organ theft, torture before death