Amnesty raises alarm over Red Crescent worker held by Syria

AFP , Thursday 20 Mar 2014

A member of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent helps a woman from a besieged area of Homs upon her arrival. (Photo:Reuters)

Rights group Amnesty International has raised concern about the detention of a Syrian Red Crescent worker who has not been heard from since her arrest by authorities in January.

In a statement released late Wednesday, the group said Maryam Haid was arrested on January 13 by men believed to be members of the Syrian Criminal Security forces.

Amnesty said Haid was initially detained at a Criminal Security branch in Damascus, but there had been no word on her whereabouts or condition since her arrest.

A relative of Haid's told the group that her arrest could be related to the activities of her cousin, with whom she shared an apartment in Damascus, or other relatives active in the opposition.

"Maryam Haid is volunteering with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in psychosocial support projects but is not known to be a political activist," Amnesty said.

It said the last time Haid's family had seen her was when she appeared on March 5 on a pro-government Syrian channel.

"She was presented as a 'terrorist' before 'confessing' to organising demonstrations, contacting journalists and receiving money and equipment from them," Amnesty said.

"She may have been coerced into making the 'confessions', a common practice by Syria's security forces, and this would heighten concern for her safety."

Tens of thousands of people are believed to be held in Syrian government prisons, which rights groups say are notorious for prisoner abuse and torture.


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