Syria: Free Amina

Posted: 8 June 2011
On Monday, Amina Arraf, a popular young Syrian American blogger was abducted by three armed men in Damascus. Her high profile kidnapping is an ominous sign that the Syrian regime's gloves are now totally off.

Amina is one of over ten thousand men and women who have been detained and tortured in the last few months just for calling for democracy. Security forces have shot dead over one thousand peaceful demonstrators, and are laying siege to entire cities to crush the movement. But despite this brutality, a total ban on foreign reporting, and internet blackouts, courageous Syrians, like Amina, refuse to be silenced.

Every hour that passes she is in greater danger of unimaginable persecution, and experts say only the US and Turkey's diplomatic influence could get her out. Let's call for Amina's immediate release, an end to the violent crackdown, and for all political prisoners to be freed. Send an urgent message straight to the inboxes of the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Turkey and the President and Secretary of State of the USA -- then share this with everyone.

The regime has steadily escalated repression against protestors, with 80 civilians killed just this past Friday by security forces and dozens dying of gun shot injuries since then. The army has repeatedly fired on unarmed demonstrators in Dera'a, Hama and Homs and horrific tales of sexual torture of children, men and women, fingernail extraction and psychological torment are rampant. Given that homosexuality is illegal in Syria and Amina's forceful and frank platform as a gay blogger, her treatment by the regime could be terrifying, and her life could be in danger.

So far, the Syrian regime has proven deaf to international pressure, including European Union and US sanctions. But, cracks are appearing in the regime and as we saw in the case of Iman al-Obeidy in Libya and Sakineh Ashtiani in Iran, Turkey can play a crucial role, and massive global public pressure can save the life of an individual, even in times of chaos and violence.

Amina is a symbol for the extraordinarily brave Syrians struggling for basic rights. She has written extensively in her blog about her family's experiences during the repression, about being a gay woman in Syria, and she has given voice to many demonstrators' criticism of the regime. Recently she had been forced into hiding. Two hours before her detention she posted a poem that ended:

Soaring and flying
Freedom is coming
Here am I wanting
To know it one day


Later that day Amina's cousin posted on the blog, "I have been on the telephone with both her parents and all that we can say right now is that she is missing. Her father is desperately trying to find out where she is and who has taken her." Let's send an avalanche of messages now to the USA and Turkey to help stop Amina's torment and secure the freedom that she saw soaring and flying.

Together, the Avaaz community is assisting Syrian citizen journalists to break the blackout and get key footage out across the world, and are directly supporting the efforts of peaceful, pro-democracy protesters. Let's secure Amina's freedom now and continue to stand with Syrians struggling for a free, inclusive future.