HRAS is a non-governmental organization established on the 2/7/2001 by a group of intellectuals and activists working in the field. The association is headed by the prominent Syrian lawyer, Mr. Haythem Maleh, recently re-elected by the Board of Directors, and currently has around 70 members. HRAS has no religious, political or social group biases or affiliations and does not seek private gain. The association attempts to fulfill its goals through pacific means.
We aim to:
Monitor and document any violation of human rights occurring within the Syrian Arab Republic.
Educate the community about human rights principles and values and promote the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other related human rights conventions. We strongly believe in the indivisibility and interdependence of civil and political and economic, social and cultural rights.
Defend the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the individual.
Improve the principles of human rights and work on their growth in the light of developing knowledge, the gradual increase of human consciousness and scientific experience.
Cooperate and coordinate with human rights institutions and NGOs in the Arab world and the wider international community, to share in elevating the stature of the human being and his rights, in all corners of the globe.
We seek to achieve our goals through a range of means, including:
Holding lectures and seminars in human rights
Establishing a research center for human rights
Informing the public of any violations of human rights through publications and the media
Restoring to the judiciary when it is necessary and activating the role of the law
HRAS has cooperative relations with some international and regional organizations such as Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, the Arab Commission for Human Rights and the Arab Organization for Human Rights. We are currently seeking to establish links with the UN system and international NGOs working in the field.
The importance of our Association lies in the fact that the human rights situation in Syria is very deteriorated, due to the prevailing political and security atmosphere which has been dominating for decades. This has created a climate of oppression and fear and further prevents any civil society organizations or associations from existing. It is worth mentioning that our association is the second body which works in this field in Syria.
CURRENT WORK AND CAMPAIGNS
Civil and Political Rights- The denial of the right to freedom of expression remains of central concern in the Syrian Arab Republic. We are currently providing legal support and campaigning on behalf of 9 individuals, amongst them two former MPs, lawyers, doctors and a university professor. All of these 9 individuals were imprisoned in September 2001 for a term of between 3-10years. All were imprisoned due to their speaking out against human rights abuses in Syria, for drawing attention to the institutionalization of corruption, and for demanding an end to the state of emergency, which has existed since 1963 and provides an excuse for the authorities to boycott many human rights standards. All were active in Civil Society meetings seeking to bring about positive change in Syria, some were active members of HRAS.
There are also many other cases we support regarding people who were imprisoned due to there criticism of the government who are not involved in political issues.
We further campaign and issue press releases to draw attention to a large number of people who were detained or disappeared due to their involvement with Islamic parties, whose whereabouts and conditions of detention remain unknown.
HRAS has established a Committee of Prisoners Families which tries its best to communicate with prisoners and their families and offer them support, both materially and spiritually. It also organizes activities to improve the often terrible and inhuman conditions in which the detainees find themselves and campaigns for their release.
We are also currently conducting a research into the denial of civil rights to former prisoners such as the right to vote and their right to leave the country.
We hope to soon conduct a research into the use of torture in Syria's prisons.
Women's Rights- We have established a committee for women's and children's rights. We are currently conducting research into the situation of working women in Syria, the results of which will be available soon.
Minority Rights- The situation of the Kurds in Syria remains a central human rights issue. There are currently about 260,000 Kurds living in the Syrian Arab Republic who are denied a Syrian nationality and remain without official papers. We support the Kurds in their struggle against violations of their human rights.
We are currently providing legal support to two members of a Kurdish political party, Mr. Maruan Authman and Hassan Saleh. Both these two men participated in a demonstration outside the Syrian parliament on human rights day 10/12/2002 to demand greater rights for Kurds. Both were imprisoned for their activities by the High State Security Court.
Economic and Social Rights- we hope to expand our work into this field and a suggestion has been made to conduct research into the situation of the right to housing in Syria as a response to the many instances of forced eviction without compensation that occurs.