Prisoner of the Month May 2005 Dr Abdul Aziz Al-Khayer

Dr Abdul Aziz al-Khayer, medical doctor and dissident writer, was arrested in Damascus on 1 February 1992 in connection with his membership in the Hizb al-‘Amal al-Shuyu’i (Party for Communist Action). Following his arrest, Dr al-Khayer and four colleagues (including the poet and journalist Faraj Bayrakdar, an honorary member of English PEN) were held incommunicado for three months and reportedly interrogated under torture. Dr al-Khayer was not tried or sentenced until August 1995, when the Syrian State Court sentenced him to twenty-two years’ imprisonment. He was not given the right to appeal.

Bayrakdar, who worked with Dr al-Khayer on a number of publications, noted that his work includes many political essays as well as a publication called The Black Book, which accuses President al-Assad’s regime of corruption. Amnesty International reports that Dr al-Khayer was sought by the authorities long before his arrest. Some of his family members were detained as a means of exerting pressure on him; his wife was kept imprisoned without charge or trial from August 1987 to December 1991.

All four of Dr al-Khayer’s counterparts were released in 2001 under a presidential amnesty; it is not known why Dr al-Khayer was not included. Despite his knowledge of medicine and reputation as an informal prison doctor, Dr al-Khayer is reported to have been denied family visits for over a year. For the present he continues to serve out his sentence in Sednaya prison on the outskirts of Damascus. He is due for release on 31 January 2014.

Please send appeals to:


His Excellency Bashar al-Assad

Presidential Palace

Abu Rummaneh, Al-Rashid Street

Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic

Fax: 00 963 11 332 3410

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