Amnesty welcomes release of scores of Syrian political prisoners, but calls to free more
Amnesty International on Thursday welcomed the release of scores of political prisoners from prisons in Syria. However, the organization has called on the Syrian authorities to take additional measures to address other "outstanding concerns."
It said many of those released were imprisoned for decades after "unfair trials or were held beyond expiry of their sentences." Those released are believed to include 38 people suffering from serious illnesses, as well as members of different groups across the political spectrum.
Some 120 detainees were reportedly released over three days starting last Thursday but, to date, the names of only 47 could be confirmed. Others released include at least 62 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, six members and six affiliates of Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Liberation Party), three members of the Ba'ath Party of Iraq, at least one Palestinian and one Kurd, and two Syrian military pilots who were accused of taking part in an attempted coup in the early 1980s.
Since coming to power in July 2000, President Bashar al-Assad has released hundreds of prisoners in amnesties including scores of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
While welcoming these released, Amnesty International said that more political prisoners remain in prolonged detention without trial or are serving sentences imposed after unfair trials. These include prisoners of conscience and scores of people who had "disappeared" following their arrest or detention by Syrian security services, it said.
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)