Free Bassel Khartabil

Forgive me for being a little late with this, but it’s a matter of grave importance that needs your attention and action, if you haven’t acted on it already.

On March 15, 2012, Bassel Khartabil (also known as Bassel Safadi) was detained in a wave of arrests in the Mazzeh district of Damascus, Syria. Bassel is the project leader for an open source web software called Aiki Framework. He is well known in online technical communities as a dedicated volunteer to Creative Commons, Mozilla Firefox, Wikipedia, Open Clip Art Library, Fabricatorz, and Sharism.

In short, Bassel contributes much to the FOSS paradigm. He’s one of us.

Since Bassel’s arrest, his family has received no official explanation for his detention or information regarding his whereabouts. However, his family has recently learned from previous detainees at the security branch of Kafer Sousa, Damascus, that Bassel is being held at this location.

A side note: Human Rights Watch outlines what’s happening in Syria in an interactive map here. This does not bode well for Bassel being detained, incommunicado, for the last four months, and adds geometrically to the urgency of this matter.

EFF is on it, as is the Mozilla Foundation’s Mitchell Baker, who wrote this piece on her blog. C|Net Donna Tam also wrote an article here outlining the situation.

Now it’s your turn.

If you haven’t done so already, visit http://freebassel.org, read up and sign the letter of support. The facebookers among you can go here to do the Facebook thing.

Hashtag for Twitter/identi.ca: #freebassel

Wait. You’re not finished yet.

This is not a criticism of the great work these organizations do, but the International Committee of the Red Cross and Human Rights Watch unfortunately don’t take up the cause of freeing imprisoned individuals — I would be happy to be wrong about this, if someone knows who to contact in these organizations. However, I did find a contact address for a program at Amnesty International called Eyes on Syria which, in effect, is taking names. There’s a link on that page, “Tell Us,” that provides an address to drop them a line.

I wrote the following to Amnesty International and I would urge others to write to AI in your own words (copying my message and sending it as your own is spamming, and I do not encourage that) something along the following lines:

+start+

Dear Amnesty International –

I am writing on behalf of Bassel Khartabil, a free/open source software developer in Syria who has been arrested and detained since March in Damascus. Bassel has been instrumental in various open source software projects like Creative Commons (www.creativecommons.org), Mozilla Firefox (www.mozilla.org), Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org), Open Clip Art Library (www.openclipart.org), Fabricatorz (www.fabricatorz.com), and Sharism (www.sharism.org).

On March 15, 2012, Bassel Khartabil was detained in a wave of arrests in the Mazzeh district of Damascus. Since then, his family has received no official explanation for his detention or information regarding his whereabouts. However, his family has recently learned from previous detainees at the security branch of Kafer Sousa, Damascus, that Bassel is being held at this location.

More information on Bassel can be found at http://freebassel.org/ which is a Web site set up to help free Bassel.

Ultimately, my hope is that Bassel is freed as soon as possible, and like many in the free/open source software community concerned about his well-being, I am very troubled that he has been held incommunicado for four months. I hope Amnesty International can bring some of the facts of his detention to light, and ultimately can assist in freeing
Bassel.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,
Larry Cafiero
Felton, California, USA

+end+

Now let’s get Bassel back home to his loved ones, and let’s get him coding again.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

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  1. Colonel Panik
    July 15, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Signed the letter, will watch this issue to see if I can do more.
    Maybe send a bazillion emails?

    Good job Free Software Guy, this is what the compute/internet are for.

    • July 15, 2012 at 11:25 am

      One of the things it’s for, yeah. :-) Thanks for signing the letter.

  2. Darrel Johnston
    July 15, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    I signed the letter @ freebassel.org and emailed a letter to Amnesty International. One small point. You said: “the Mozilla Foundation’s Mitchell Baker, who wrote this piece on his blog”. Mitchell is actually a woman.

    • July 15, 2012 at 7:44 pm

      Oops! Thanks for the heads up on that, Darrel. Fixing it now, and remembering when I was on TV once back in the ’70s and corrected someone about George Eliot’s gender :-)

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