We know petitions won't convince Syria (or anyone) but it's all we've got. Please help get the word out so Bassel stays safe.— #freealaa (@jilliancyork) October 3, 2015
When there is no longer respect for human rights, public calls can only state what one hopes for. This brings us to the second point: the more the affirmation of our hope is shared and present on the Web and social media, the more it may turn to a reality. Bassel’s engagement in favor of a free Internet may have brought him to jail, but the attention that we, citizens on the Internet, give to this case may, to some degree, help bring him out of the darkness. To demonstrate interest for his life is one of the ways by which people can become aware that in Syria, one can die because one uses a smartphone and understands how the Internet works.
Survival in Adra, even under the bombings
Bassel Khartabil, who was forced by restraint to remain in Syria, is yet another of these prisoners whose number is hard to establish: one speaks of 8,000 prisoners, of which 600 women, only in Adra prison, three times its nominal capacity. Prisoners have been jailed in Adra for a wide variety of motives such as drug dealing or use, murder or robbery, but it also detains prisoners whose name is known abroad for the engagement in favour of freedom of expression. Mazen Darwish, for instance, is one of them. He is the President of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, arrested in February 2012, almost a month to the day before Bassel Khartabil. He was freed temporarily on 10 August 2015 (http://en.rsf.org/syria-mazen-darwish-free-at-last-10-08-2015,48211.html) before being found not guilty of the charges of “publishing information on terrorist acts” on the 31st of the same month.
Detained under other charges, Bassel Khartabil was accused in front of military courts, and thus excluded from the general political amnesty of June 2014, which, though opaque, cleared many peaceful activists from the charges brought against them. He was thus still in Adra when the jail was stormed by the armed rebel group Jaysh al-Islam, who took control of two of its buildings on last September 12th, a date that may be symbolic as it is the day after Bashar al-Assad’s fiftieth birthday. The prisoners found themselves caught between bombings by the regular army and fire by the rebels trying to free the jail. Bassel Khartabil survived to this deluge of fire, but it seems that around twenty other prisoners were killed and several dozens, possible a hundred, were injured (http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2015/Sep-12/314959-11-dead-in-rebel-shelling-on-damascus-activists.ashx).
Again, when it comes to Syria, information sources are difficult to obtain. Numbers are approximate, speech is choked in fear, and communication is slowed because of regime surveillance. As stressed by the lawyer Benoît Huet in an op-ed published in the French newspaper Libération, the war in Syria has also become, in a connected world, an information war, raising the question of its dissemination and manipulation. Internationally, this information war prevents us from clearly seeing the facts in a media-pervasive but terribly distant conflict because of its extreme complexity. This should not make us overlook the other information war, which raged this time at local level: in the heart of Syria, personal information and content posted on social networks are used as weapons.
Internet, and particularly social media such as Facebook, have been privileged communication means used by Syrian population to testify of the revolution of 2011 and the regime‘s bloody repression. The documentary Syria: Inside the Secret Revolution (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_SIeljZ3Tc), initially broadcasted by the BBC on 26 September 2011 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b015flwq), gathers some of these videos which, after their publication online, allowed the international community to realize the revolt on Syrian streets.
the people who are in real danger never leave their countries. they are in danger for a reason and for that they don't leave #Syria— Bassel Safadi (@basselsafadi) January 31, 2012