Next Thursday, Bassel Khartabil, a.k.a. Safadi will celebrate his 33rd birthday — his third in a prison cell in Damascus.
Bassel was arrested in Damascus on March 15, 2012, on the first anniversary of the Syrian uprising.
Bassel was about to get married to Noura, his lawyer and future wife, whom he later wedded while in prison.
Bassel is a Syrian-Palestinian computer engineer who believes strongly in the power of open network and collaboration. Before his arrest, he was a leading member of Syria’s open Internet community, promoting open source software development, open culture and supporting the creation of collaborative workspaces in Damascus.
He was and remains a respected leader who inspired and facilitated the work of so many others, not only in Syria but across the region. The Syrian regime could not tolerate this. In sum, Bassel is in jail today because he is one of the brightest and most inspiring minds in his generation.
In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine ranked Bassel 19th in a list of 100 most influential global thinkers for “insisting, against all odds, on a peaceful Syrian revolution.”
In March 2013, he was awarded the Index on Censorship Digital Freedom Award for “for his strong commitment to the open web, teaching others about technology, and contributing his experience freely to help the world.”
Bassel is a close friend of the Global Voices community who joined the second Arab Bloggers summit in Beirut in 2009. His friends still remember him as a gentle and generous character who was great to have around and take the lead from.
We do not want Bassel to spend his birthday, alone in his prison cell. We want him to hear our voices loud and clear and know that we are still supporting his case.
We therefore call upon everybody to participate in a day of action on Thursday, May 22, that Global Voices Advocacy, together with a coalition of partners, will be organizing in support of Bassel’s freedom. Our rallying cry: “It’s About All Of Us: On May 22, Say #FreeBassel.”
Here are 3 ways to participate:
1- Participate in our Twitter marathon (Tweetathon) on May 22 from 1 PM to 4 PM GMT (click here for a time conversion). Please try to use the day’s hashtags as much as you can: #FreeBassel and #ItsAboutAllOfUs.
2- Submit a photo to the FreeBassel Tumblr with a message of support including either one or two of the hashtags: #FreeBassel, #ItsAboutAllOfUs.
3- Print one of these original posters by artist Kalie Taylor — hold it in your photo or post it in a public space in your city or town.