[Marxism] [SUSPICIOUS MESSAGE] One of Syria’s best-known democracy activists has been executed

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Aug 3 11:35:50 MDT 2017

Washington Post, August 3 2017
One of Syria’s best-known democracy activists has been executed
By Liz Sly

BEIRUT — Most of the activists who embraced the calls for freedom that 
resonated across Syria in 2011 were imprisoned, killed or forced into 
exile before anyone even knew their names.

One whose reputation had become known beyond Syria’s borders was Bassel 
Khartabil Safadi, an Internet pioneer who embodied the hopes of a new 
generation that technology could be leveraged to build a fairer world. 
He was a successful Internet entrepreneur in the years before the 2011 
uprising and then became an enthusiastic participant in Syria’s protest 
movement — until he was detained by government security forces in March 

This week, his family heard confirmation from an undisclosed source in 
Damascus of the news they long had dreaded: Safadi was executed by the 
government in October 2015, just days after prison guards came and took 
him away from his cell, never to be heard from again.

“Words are difficult to come by,” wrote his wife, Noura, in a Facebook 
post Monday that announced the news of his death to family and friends. 
“This is the end that suits a hero like him.”

Safadi’s fate is one that has been shared by untold thousands of Syrians 
who took part in the protests only to vanish into the black hole of 
Syria’s prison system. Many simply disappear without a trace, their 
families left frantically scrambling to find out where they are.

According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, more than 100,000 
people have been detained since the uprising began, and the whereabouts 
of many remain unknown. Amnesty International has reported thousands of 
secret executions of political prisoners at the prison of Sednaya 
outside Damascus. Safadi was held at a different but equally notorious 
facility, Adra, where executions also have been held.

A brief trial by a military court preceded Safadi’s execution, but such 
courts “are notorious for conducting closed-door proceedings that do not 
meet the minimum international standards for a fair trial,” Amnesty said 
in a statement issued Tuesday.

His death “is a grim reminder of the horrors that take place in Syrian 
prisons every day. The tens of thousands of people currently locked away 
inside Syrian government detention facilities face torture, ill 
treatment and extrajudicial executions,” said Anna Neistat, Amnesty’s 
senior director of research.

It is also a reminder of the cruel trajectory of the Syrian revolt, 
which began peacefully with widespread anti-government demonstrations 
but rapidly mutated into raging war.

Safadi, a Syria-born Palestinian who was 34 at the time of his death, 
remained a staunch proponent of peaceful change. But in conversations 
with The Washington Post over Skype throughout the first year of the 
protests, his mood shifted, from confidence that change was coming to 
fear that he was being targeted for his activism. He went underground, 
moved frequently and became afraid to talk after learning that security 
forces were hunting for him.

His connections with the international Internet community prompted 
widespread appeals for his release after he was detained, without 
result. The Index on Censorship awarded him its annual prize for digital 
freedom. Foreign Policy named him one of the top 100 Global Thinkers of 
2012 “for insisting, against all odds, on a peaceful Syrian revolution.”

Friends who mourned him Tuesday said they were struck by the contrast in 
outcomes between those who are detained by the government for advocating 
peaceful change and the militant Islamists, thousands of whom have been 
freed since the uprising began, who often go on to head armed groups.

“Bassel was a threat to the regime because he spoke a language they 
don’t understand,” said Mohammed Najem, a friend of Safadi’s who met him 
in 2009. “The regime prefers to deal with Islamists because they speak 
the same language, of sectarianism and violence.”

As word of his death spread, tributes came from those who had known and 
worked with him. “Bassel Khartabil lived and died for his belief in 
transparency and a free Internet,” said the Index on Censorship, which 
awarded him its 2013 Digital Freedom Award.

“His death is a terrible reminder of what many individuals and families 
risk in order to make a better society,” said Creative Commons.

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