Syrian activist banned from leaving the country

Government prevents former lawmaker from leaving Syria to receive urgent medical treatment.

Syrian camp 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
Syrian camp 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
A Syrian human rights activist said Tuesday that authorities were preventing him from leaving the country so he could receive urgent medical treatment. Riyadh Seif, who also is a former lawmaker, said he has been waiting for more than two months for government permission to leave the country for medical treatment for prostate cancer and heart problems. He said he only received "procrastination and evasion" from security authorities in response to his request to leave the country. "After reaching a dead-end, I have no alternative but to appeal to all those who are interested in human rights issues in Syria and in the world and am hoping it will help me get my natural and legitimate right to receive medical treatment abroad," Seif said. Seif was stripped of his parliamentary immunity and sentenced to five years prison on charges of "inciting hatred against the state." He was released in January 2006 after serving 45 months of the sentence but is banned from leaving the country. Authorities have banned several other human rights activists from traveling abroad. The Syrian Organization for Human Rights has described the travel bans as "punishment, or a precautionary measure, that contravenes the Syrian constitution and law and runs counter to the international legitimacy." The government usually does not announce travel bans, and Syrian authorities almost never comment on measures taken against democracy activists.