Syria ‘general amnesty’ fails
to free hundreds detained after protests
A new “general amnesty” announced in Syria falls far short of the
political reforms called for by protesters, Amnesty International said today.
According to the state news agency SANA, the amnesty will apply to chronically
ill prisoners as well as those held for some criminal offences committed before
yesterday, including theft and smuggling. It will not affect hundreds of people
being held for their involvement in peaceful political protests.
Several hundred political prisoners were reportedly
released following another “general amnesty” announced on 31 May. However,
hundreds more remain detained, many of them held incommunicado and at risk of
torture or other ill-treatment.
“President al-Assad has once again failed dramatically
to address the legitimate demands of people who’ve been risking their lives to
make their voices heard,” said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty
International’s Middle East and North Africa
“All those being held without charge for their
perceived link to the ongoing protests must be put on trial or released.”
The newest amnesty announcement came a day after
President al-Assad addressed the nation in a televised speech, in which he said
calls for reform were legitimate but also blamed armed “saboteurs” for causing
the recent unrest.
protests demanding reform began in February, Syrian security forces have waged
a campaign of violence against protesters. According to Amnesty International’s
latest information, at least 1,200 people have been killed since mid-March.
In recent weeks, around 20,000 people from northern Syria have fled
to the Turkish border to escape violence by Syrian security forces. Half of
them are in camps inside Turkey
and the other half are in makeshift camps just inside Syria.