EU calls Damascus to free political prisoners

Published August 9th, 2002 - 02:00 GMT

Denmark, holder of the EU presidency, on Thursday urged Syria to free all its political prisoners after several were sentenced in a crack-down on dissent. 


"EU urges Syria to release all political prisoners," the presidency said in a statement. 


Rights group Amnesty International last week demanded that Syria release activist Walid al-Bunni and liberal economist Aref Dalila, who were sentenced to five and 10 years respectively on July 31 for trying to overturn the constitution by calling for political freedom. 


"The EU deeply regrets the prison sentences passed recently against a number of individuals peacefully exercising their legitimate right to freedom of speech," it said. 


The statement particularly condemned the sentences against al-Bunny and Dalila and against the communist opposition member Riad al-Turk, novelist Habib Saleh and the two independent members of parliament Mamoun al-Homsi and Riad Seif. 


"In the context of freedom of speech the EU is also concerned about the continued worsening of working conditions of the regional and international media in Syria," it said. 


“The EU noted with satisfaction the early promises of political and economic reform in Syria immediately following President Bashar Al-Assad's accession to office, but is concerned about the limited progress so far,” the statement added. “The EU looks forward to continuing the dialogue on human rights with the Syrian Government,” it concluded. (  


© 2002 Al Bawaba (

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