Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Syria: Free Bassel

Free Bassel banner by Naeema Zarif (more CC sets here)

As the crisis in Syria enters its 16th month, and the international community continues to turn a blind eye to the daily atrocities and human rights violations, the number of activists rounded up by government forces is swelling by the day.
The latest online campaign is to #FreeBassel – i.e. Bassel Khartabil, who was detained last March.
A #FREEBASSEL site allows visitors to sign a support letter calling for Bassel’s safe and immediate release.
According to the site:
#FREEBASSEL is a campaign to bring about the safe and immediate release of Bassel Khartabil from wrongful detainment in Syria since March 2012. He is a well-known contributor to global software and culture communities like Creative Commons, Mozilla Firefox, Wikipedia, Open Clip Art Library, Fabricatorz, and Sharism. He is missed by these communities, his family, friends and loved ones. We will not stop campaigning for him until we see him as a free global citizen once again.
On March 15, 2012, Bassel Khartabil was detained in a wave of arrests in the Mazzeh district of Damascus. Since then, his family has received no official explanation for his detention or information regarding his whereabouts. However, his family has recently learned from previous detainees at the security branch of Kfar Sousa, Damascus, that Bassel is being held at this location.
Bassel Khartabil, a Palestinian-born Syrian, 31, is a respected computer engineer specializing in open source software development, the type of contributions the Internet is built upon. He launched his career ten years ago in Syria, working as a technical director for a number of local companies on cultural projects like restoring Palmyra and Forward Syria Magazine.
Since then, Bassel has become known worldwide for his strong commitment to the open web, teaching others about technology, and contributing his experience freely to help the world. Bassel is the project leader for an open source web software called Aiki Framework.
Since his arrest, Bassel’s valuable volunteer work, both in Syria and around the world, has been stopped. His absence has been painful for the communities that depend on him. In addition, his family, and his fiancée, whom he was due to marry this past April, have had their lives put on hold.
Bassel Khartabil has been unjustly detained for nearly four months without trial or any legal charges being brought against him.
We, the signees of the #FREEBASSEL campaign, demand immediate information regarding his detention, health, and psychological state.
We urge the Syrian Government to release the community member, husband-to-be, son to a mother and father, and celebrated International software engineer Bassel Khartabil, immediately.
Joi Ito, who is also chairman of Creative Commons, has joined the campaign. He wrote on June 29:
“Creative Commons supports efforts to obtain the release of Bassel Safadi, a valuable contributor to and leader in the technology community. Bassel’s expertise and focus across all aspects of his work has been in support of the development of publicly available, free, open source computer software code and technology. He pursues this not only through his valuable volunteer efforts in support of Creative Commons, but in all of his work in the technology field. Through his efforts, the quality and availability of freely available and open technology is improved and technology is advanced.”
Although the Syrian regime has so far ignored all international appeals regarding political prisoners, it is only right, as a Creative Commoner, a supporter of open source and human rights, to back the call for helping #FREEBASSEL by signing the support letter at

Related posts:
How Effective Are Free Speech Campaigns? by Jillian C. York, July 19, 2012

Free Bassel by Jillian C. York – June 30, 2012
The forgotten bloggers by Jillian C York – June 23, 2012
Jailed Syrian teen defines terrorFebruary 17, 2011
Another Syrian blogger heldFebruary 22, 2011