Syrian-Palestinian web developer Bassel Khartabil aka Bassel Safadi has been missing for more than a year. But he has not been forgotten. More than five years after he was arrested by the Syrian regime, his supporters and loved ones continue to campaign for his freedom and celebrate his contributions to the open web.

This year’s edition of re:publica, the annual digital culture conference held in Berlin, featured a session dedicated to the #FreeBassel campaign.

Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay, a researcher at the France-based CNRS Institute for Communication Sciences, and Barbara Rühling, the CEO of Book Sprints, a rapid book production and publishing company, read excerpts from the book Cost of Freedom: A Collective Inquiry.

The book, published last year and available in the public domain, contains a series of essays reflecting on free culture in the face of oppression. It is a tribute to Bassel and his work. The introduction reads:

The open source web developer and digital activist has been in the custody of Syrian government authorities since March 2012. In October 2015, Bassel was taken from Adra prison, a civilian facility, to an undisclosed location. His wife, writer and lawyer Noura Ghazi, reported that “military police took Bassel from his cell in Adra with a ‘top secret’ sealed order from the Military Field Court.”

On November 12, 2015, Ghazi reported that she was contacted by people who identified themselves as insiders in the Assad government who informed her of an alleged death sentence against her husband. However, his location and condition remain unknown.

A Creative Commons leader in Syria and active in projects like Mozilla Firefox and Wikipedia, Bassel played a pivotal role in extending online access and knowledge to the public in Syria.

Barry Threw, a designer and technologist who is currently the interim director of New Palmyra, a project founded by Bassel, writes on pages 10 and 11 of the book:

Noura Ghazi also contributed to the book, writing about her husband’s passion to share knowledge with others, even while in prison:

Ghazi is also the author of Waiting, a prose book written to her husband between 2012 and 2015, while he was in prison. Bassel and Noura spent a year working together on the book. She smuggled the texts to him when she visited him, and he would translate them from Arabic into English. The book is available in the public domain.

Bassel’s story is not unique in Syria. Since the beginning of the protests against the regime of Bashar al-Assad in 2011, more than 65,000 people have disappeared, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights.

Those who have been arrested or forcibly disappeared by the regime have faced torture and even executions. As of 2016, at least 17,723 Syrians had died in custody since 2011, according to the international human rights group Amnesty International. The stories of many more people remain unknown.

The Global Voices community has called for Bassel’s release since 2012. We repeat our call today in the hope that it will be our last.

Source: Global Voices

syadminGeneral
Syrian-Palestinian web developer Bassel Khartabil aka Bassel Safadi has been missing for more than a year. But he has not been forgotten. More than five years after he was arrested by the Syrian regime, his supporters and loved ones continue to campaign for his freedom and celebrate his contributions...