On May 22nd, more than four years after his detention and six months after his disappearance, Bassel Khartabil (Arabic: باسل خرطبيل) will turn 35 years old. Bassel’s imprisonment by the Assad regime is a brutal human rights violation and the continued lack of answers about his fate is a hindrance to the fight for free information in the Middle East and beyond. While Creative Commons has been actively involved in the Free Bassel Campaign since the beginning, Bassel’s rumored death sentence makes today’s call to action particularly pressing.
As Lawrence Lessig wrote in 2012, “We distract ourselves with a million other things, but distraction doesn’t change reality: thousands have died; thousands more are being held; tyranny still lives.”
Bassel Khartabil is a Palestinian-Syrian Free Software and Free Culture activist and project lead for Creative Commons Syria. Bassel’s work on Mozilla Firefox, Wikipedia, Fabricatorz, and other open culture projects with his research company Aiki Labs has been credited by the European Parliament with “opening up the Internet in Syria and vastly extending online access and knowledge to the Syrian people.” Shortly after his detention, Bassel was named one of the top 100 global thinkers by Foreign Policy for “insisting, against all odds, on a peaceful Syrian revolution.”
This weekend, we’re joining with his friends around the world to continue to demand his immediate return to life as a free global citizen.