Seven months ago, I was proud to welcome the decision by the UN Economic and Social Council to grant special consultative status to the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression. This staunch defender of human rights, the first Syria-based NGO ever to be welcomed through the doors of the United Nations, was honored for championing freedom of expression and advancing political solutions over violence as a means to end the suffering of the Syrian people.
Today, the organization’s director, Mazen Darwish, is under arrest. Seven more SCM administrators and staff are likewise detained by Syrian forces, without warrant and without cause. Their detention lays bare the hypocrisy of the Syrian government, which claims to want dialogue with the political opposition at the same time as Assad’s thugs arrest and kill those who dare oppose it. The United States condemns the imprisonment of Darwish, the SCM staff, and thousands more who have been detained arbitrarily in Syria, and calls for their immediate release.