A fast for Bassel

December 23, 2012

Many of you who know me know that — how can I put this tactfully? — I’m a bit on the rotund side. More specifically, I’m a little short for weight; short by about, oh, at least a foot or so. I weigh about the same as most power forwards in the NBA but lack the height they have. You get the picture.

I bring this up because supporters of Bassel Khartabil (also known as Bassel Safadi), who have been working tirelessly to have him freed from a Syrian jail, have come up with a one-day fast for people to do to raise awareness of Bassel’s plight. I fasted on Friday and will do so each Friday going forward until Bassel is freed. It’s not hard: For me, I just get a gallon of purified water and drink that throughout the day (sorry, but I can’t not have water, my age being what it is and all that).

The schedule, if you want to participate, can be found here. Incidentally, I can’t seem to mark each subsequent Friday on the schedule for some reason, but I’ll be fasting anyway.

Al-Jazeera has done a very good piece on the fast, and on Bassel’s plight, here. In addition, Foreign Policy Magazine calls Bassel one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2012.

A recap from the July blog item: On March 15, 2012, Bassel was detained in a wave of arrests in the Mazzeh district of Damascus, Syria. As I wrote back in July, 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.

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.

As updated on the Free Bassel site, “Bassel has been transferred from a civilian (Adra) to a Military Field Court, which denies him a lawyer and witnesses. This is bad. Please act now.”

Also, this from Amnesty International paints a bleak picture of Bassel’s current plight, but provides information about who to contact with messages to leaders to appeal for Bassel’s freedom.

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