Anas Shughri أنس شوغري
One day in March 2011, after Friday prayers in the coastal city of Banyas, he stood up and called to a crowd of people, “If you’re for freedom, come out with me!” Many followed him, making Banyas one of the first sites of unrest outside of Daraa, where the country’s uprising began. Anas was a strong leader in demonstrations because of his charisma, integrity, and commitment to nonviolent protest.
Anas, 23, didn’t hesitate to use his real name in reporting regime atrocities to international media. He was subjected to arbitrary detention on May 15, 2011, and remains incommunicado.
The lack of any channel of communication with Anas is distressing because the Syrian state is able to avoid acknowledgement of his prisoner status. This leaves him at high risk for ill-treatment and torture, to which he has likely already been subjected because of his charismatic role in the Banyas protests. According to a report in July 2012 by Human Rights Watch, a slew of 27 “detention centers” have been established as havens for the torture of political prisoners.
We must hold Syria accountable for the life and health of Anas Shughri. Supporters have alleged that he was held by military security in solitary confinement at a prison in Tartus, a city just south of Banyas, then transferred to the custody of state security in Damascus. We don’t know for sure because the state has been silent about his whereabouts.
Anas is from the town of Bayda, located in the countryside outside Banyas. The Syrian regime is claiming he is a “terrorist” who leads “armed gangs,” a story used to describe the entire country’s uprising in order to justify the crackdown on Syrian citizens. Yet Anas in particular is well known for having demonstrated a commitment to peaceful means of protest.
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