April 7th 2010
President Bashar al-Asad
Your Excellency, President Bashar al-Assad
Re: Raghdah Sa’id Hassan
PEN International expresses serious concern for writer Raghdah Sa’id Hassan.
She was arrested on February 10th of this year, apparently for wanting to publish a novel, The New Prophets. The novel, her first one, is said to discuss the political situation in the country in the 1990, as told through a love story.
Her home has been ransacked and she has been held incommunicado at the Political Security Branch in Tartus. There is serious worries for her well-being, whether she is being badly treated, perhaps even tortured and also that she is deprived of the medicines she needs for her recurrent renal colic, which causes her great pain.
PEN International seek information regarding the actual reason for the arrest. We also seek assurances that she is not being tortured or ill-treated in detention. We would also like to express our sincere concern that she may be held in violation of her right to freedom of expression, and we urge Syrian authorities to abide by their obligations under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, securing all citizens the right to peacefully express their political opinions.
Your Excellency, I urge you to look into this case immediately and make sure that Raghdah Sa’id Hassan is released from detention as soon as possible.
Member of thew Writers in Prison Committee of Norwegian PEN