Yassin al-Haj Saleh (born in Ar-Raqqah in 1961) is a Syrian writer and political dissident. He writes on political, social and cultural subjects relating to Syria and the Arab world.
From 1980 until 1996 he spent time in prison in Syria for his membership in the left-wing opposition group Syrian Communist Party (Political Bureau), which he calls a “communist pro-democracy group”. However, he has also stated that his time in prison allowed him to break out of the “internal prisons [of] narrow political affiliation [and] rigid ideology”, and has called the Syrian revolution an “open-ended and multi-leveled struggle”, while remaining supportive of aspects of Marxism. He was arrested while he was studying medicine in Aleppo and spent sixteen years in prison, the last in Tadmur Prison. He took his final examination as a general medical practitioner in 2000, but never practiced.
He has been granted a Prince Claus Award for 2012 as “actually a tribute to the Syrian people and the Syrian revolution. He was not able to collect the award as he is living hiding in the underground in Syria. He was one of the talkers in a two-day anti-capitalist forum, which was held in Ankara, Turkey, on Nov 23rd-24th, 2013. Additionally, he was speaking at the event ‘Reporting Change – Stories from the Arab region’ in Amsterdam on 15 June 2014, an event jointly organized by Human Rights Watch and World Press Photo.
Al-Haj Saleh is married to Samira Khalil, a communist dissident, former political detainee and a revolutionary activist abducted in Douma in December 2013. After 21 months of hiding in Damascus and whole Syria, for being wanted by both the government and radical Islamist militants, he fled to Turkey. He now currently lives in Istanbul.