Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Syria: the case of Muhannad Al Hassani

Delivered in Plenary - 17th September 2009

Mr President,

Syria is an important country in the Middle East and has a vital role to play in reducing the ability of Iran to support terrorist actions, via its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas, against Israel. Syria also has a habit of fomenting unrest in Lebanon, which Syria still regards as barely sovereign and within its sphere of influence.

Syria is also a secular regime. In fact, it remains the only vestige now of the once powerful Ba’athist Party which ruled Iraq as well, so things like women’s rights are advanced. However, overall it remains a brutal one-party dictatorship.

The detention of Muhannad Al Hassani as a leading human rights defender is alarming. If Syria really wants us to support an EU association agreement, it should please release Mr Al Hassani immediately and end the persecution of human rights defenders such as Mr Al Hassani.