quinta-feira, fevereiro 19, 2004
Syrians Demand Reform
No Arab Reform Bulletin.
A new petition signed by more than 700 Syrian intellectuals, writers and lawyers calls on the Syrian government to lift the state of emergency in force since 1963. The petition's organizers intend to submit the document to the Syrian authorities on March 8, the forty-first anniversary of the ruling Baath party's assumption of power.
An English translation of the petition, which was published in Arabic in Lebanon's Al Nahar on February 10, reads as follows:
"On March 8, 1963, the National Council of the Revolutionary Command declared a state of emergency in Syria. Forty one years later, the country remains burdened by the emergency law whose effects have spread to all the elements of the citizens' and society's life, creating a situation which besieges the society, freezes its movement, and imprisons thousands of citizens for reasons pertaining to their views or political stances or for accusations that do not constitute criminal acts.
The emergency law has developed to include extraordinary rules that have depended to a great extent on the mood of its enforcers.
We the signatories demand that the Syrian authorities abrogate the state of emergency and all its legal, political, and economic effects including:
-Abrogating all emergency and extraordinary trials
-Halting all oppressive detentions
-Releasing all political detainees and prisoners of conscience, with adequate compensation
-Restoring the dignity of those deprived of civilian rights for political reasons
-Allowing the return of exiled citizens to their homeland under legal guarantees
-Opening a file for missing people that discloses their location, settles their legal conditions, and compensates their relatives.
-Allowing democratic liberties, including the right to form political parties and civil society groups."
On January 31, the Syrian government abruptly released some 130 political prisoners. Both the petition and the prisoner amnesty are reminiscent of developments in 2000, when 99 Syrians signed a petition calling for an end to the state of emergency, and the Syrian government responded by releasing some 600 political prisoners. A crackdown on Syrian democracy activists and liberal intellectuals soon followed. It remains to be seen whether the changed regional climate, created by the U.S. occupation of Iraq, will lead the Syrian regime to respond differently this time.
posted by Miguel Noronha 10:32 da manhã
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