Summary and Current Status
On December 1, 2007, Syrian medical doctor Kamal al-Mwayel participated in the first meeting of the National Council of the Damascus Declaration for Democratic National Change(DDDNC)—an umbrella organization comprised of representatives of opposition political parties and pro-democracy groups in Syria. Arrested on February 21, 2008, Dr. al-Mwayel’s whereabouts were unknown until his release on September 18, 2008. No charges were brought against him.
Dr. al-Mwayel is a medical doctor and former political prisoner from the town of Zabadani. According to Amnesty International (AI), he was imprisoned from 1982 to 1989 for alleged involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is an illegal organization in Syria.
Dr. al-Mwayel was one of a group of 163 individuals who attended the first meeting of the National Council of the Damascus Declaration for Democratic National Change (DDDNC) on December 1, 2007. The National Council of the DDDNC is an umbrella organization comprised of representatives of Syria’s opposition political parties and pro-democracy groups. The Syrian government considers it to be an illegal organization. National Council members reportedly are from every Syrian province and from every sect, ethnic group, and political leaning, including leftists, liberals, conservatives, Kurds, and moderate Islamists. The DDDNC, often referred to as the Damascus Declaration, is a document—first made public on October 16, 2005—that calls for the establishment of a democratic system in Syria that respects citizens’ rights, ensures freedom of speech and association, and ends discrimination based on religious or political beliefs.
On February 21, 2008, Dr. al-Mwayel was summoned to the Military Security Branch in Damascus. When he voluntarily presented himself there, he was arrested and taken into state custody. He is one of more than 50 people who were subsequently arrested after they attended the first meeting of the National Council of the DDDNC.
Dr. al-Mwayel remained in detention for seven months. During this period, his whereabouts were unknown, and no charges were levied against him. AI expressed concern that he was at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. On September 18, 2008, he was released from prison without charge or trial.