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Syria: Safana Baqleh, the “Freedom Harp”, Arrested in Damascus

UPDATE 19 April: Friends have confirmed that Safana Baqle was released on Thursday, after being taken to court for a few hours. The rest of activists detained for holding a “Stop the killing” banner are still under arrest. __________________________________________________________________

When Rima Dali was arrested on April 8 for holding a banner reading “Stop the killing. We want to build a country for all Syrians”, Safana Baqleh was the first person who rushed to defend her and try to stop the security forces from taking her with them. For this attempt she too was arrested, together with other activists attending a peaceful protest in front of the Syrian parliament. Rima Dali was released on April 10, but Safana remains in detention, as do activists Hussam Dahna, Ali Zain and Assem Hamsho.

Safana Baqleh, 30 years old, is a musician. She plays the harp and is known by her friends as the “Freedom Harp”. She was due to give a concert at the Opera House in Damascus on April 11. She graduated with honors from the High Institute of Music of Damascus and has a degree in English language and literature. Safana is a strong believer in nonviolent resistance and is a member of Nuwab Shabab (Young Members of Parliament), an organization promoting the presence of young people in parliament. She has also been a volunteer for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent since 2001.

Safana Baqleh, the "Freedom Harp". Image from Activist News Association on Facebook

Activists do not know Safana's whereabouts or what she is accused of, and are therefore deeply concerned about her. Her friends have created a Facebook page to share news on her detention and demand her release. Updates on her detention can also be followed under the #freesafana hashtag on Twitter.

Demonstrations and sit-ins have taken place in solidarity with Safana, Hussam Dahna, Ali Zain, Assem Hamsho and all Syrians imprisoned since the beginning of the regime´s brutal crackdown against all forms of opposition. The following video shows activists holding a banner reading “Stop the killing. We want to build a country for all Syrians”, at a shopping mall in Damascus on April 11.

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