#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 13°C Saturday 31 July 2021

Prisoners detained during unrest released in Syria

The Syrian government released 755 prisoners yesterday who had been detained over the past nine months of unrest. Meanwhile, observers toured Homs to see whether authorities were complying with a plan to stop the bloodshed.

Image from amateur video and released by Shaam News Network, purports to show a woman mourning over a close relative in Homs.
Image from amateur video and released by Shaam News Network, purports to show a woman mourning over a close relative in Homs.
Image: (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via APTN)

Zeina Karam, Associated Press

THE SYRIAN GOVERNMENT released 755 prisoners yesterday detained over the past nine months in the regime’s crackdown on dissent, as observers toured a flashpoint city to see whether authorities were complying with an Arab plan to stop the bloodshed that has killed thousands.

The prisoners’ release, reported by the state-run news agency SANA, followed accusations by Human Rights Watch that Syrian authorities were hiding hundreds of detainees from the observers now in the country.

The New York-based group said the detainees have been transferred to off-limits military sites and urged the observers to insist on full access to all sites used for detention.

HRW’s report, issued late on Tuesday, echoes charges made by Syrian opposition members that thousands of detainees were being transferred to military sites ahead of the observers’ visit.

Syrian officials have said the Arab League monitors will have unrestricted access to trouble spots but will not be allowed to visit sensitive military sites.

“Syria has shown it will stop at nothing to undermine independent monitoring of its crackdown,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. She said it was essential for the Arab League “to draw clear lines” regarding access to detainees, and be willing to speak out when those lines are crossed.

SANA said the prisoners released Wednesday did not include those with “blood on their hands.”

Last month, Syrian authorities released 2,645 prisoners in three batches but activists and critics say thousands more who were picked up in the past months remain in jail.

The Arab observers kicked off their one month mission in the violence-wracked country with a visit on Tuesday to Homs — the first time Syria has allowed outside monitors to the city at the heart of the anti-government uprising.

A local official in Homs told The Associated Press that a team of four observers were in the city on Wednesday as well, touring various districts. He declined to give his details and spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

Homs residents said anti-government protesters were preparing for a second day of demonstrations, despite a massive security presence in the city.

Read: Four Syrian soldiers killed as Arab League begins second day of observing>

About the author:

Associated Press

Read next: