Happy Birthday to you my father, in Al-Assad prison of Adra

Today Sunday August 15th, 2010 is also the 5th day of Ramadan the Muslims holy month of fasting. While Syria is witnessing an extreme unprecedented heat wave, Haitham Maleh, a 79 years old devout Muslim, a judge, a lawyer, a human rights defender, a great father and a hero to all Syrians sits behind bars in his beloved country of Syria getting ready to break his fasting on some boiled potatoes and a large cake to celebrate the beginning of his eightieth year of age.

Haitham Maleh,
Haitham Maleh,
Today is my father’s birthday but a cruel dictator, Bashar Al-Assad and his regime of corrupt criminals, stopped my father from celebrating his birthday among his family and friends. So, he has to celebrate it among criminals, thieves, murderers, and rapists.

My father, after he spent 7 years in the prisons of Hafez Al-Assad the late dictator of Syria who is the father of the current dictator, came out of prison suffering from several illnesses. An over active thyroid gland and diabetes not to mention the eye surgery he had to go through right after he came out of prison. Today, this current detention added a degenerative arthritis infection in his knees in addition to an infection in his intestine accompanied with diarrhea which lead him to break his fasting on boiled potatoes only.

I am not sure if his diabetes and his stomach problems will allow him to eat a piece of his own cake but nevertheless, he requested a large cake to celebrate among his 60 square-meters cell companions, about 65 of them.

The UN working group on arbitrary detention ruled that Mr. Haitham Maleh’s detention was arbitrary, Amnesty International consider him a prisoner of conscious, and the largest human rights organizations around the world signed petitions demanding his immediate release. The White House, the US Secretary of State, The EU Parliament President, the EU High Representative, Canadian, British, French, German, Norwegian and Dutch Ministers of Foreign Affairs all condemned his arrest and demanded his immediate release. Syrian from all walks of life, from the far left to the far right, old and young condemned his arrest and demanded he should be set free. Yet, Bashar Al-Assad remains in contempt ignoring all those voices and proving to the world that he is not a friend of his own people, nor a friend of the west. He puts himself as an enemy of all and a friend of his own ego and hunger for power, a friend of his own security apparatus that is built on corruption.

My father will be breaking his fasting away from his family; he will be celebrating his birthday away from his family, while he is struggling with his illnesses. But, he will remain happy and content that he stood up for all Syrians freedoms and did not barter his principles.

While, Bashar Al-Assad, is jumping ropes with his principles one day begging the west for their friendship, and the other begging Turkey to improve its relations with Israel so it can be a good peace mediator, while he is trying to show himself a friend of the Palestinian’s struggle. That only proves he is trying to find the best deal for himself and not for the Syrian people. Bashar Al-Assad might fool those who do not know him well but he cannot fool his Syrian people, because they know him better.


Sunday, August 15th 2010
Iyas Maleh

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