Assad grants amnesty, supporters rally
Beirut, June 21, 2011
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad issued a general amnesty on Tuesday, a day after he promised wide-ranging but vague reforms to counter a three-month popular revolt against his autocratic rule.
Activists and analysts had dismissed Assad's promises on Monday, saying they failed to engage the demands of protesters who for three months have defied a fierce military crackdown in rallying for greater freedoms, posing the gravest challenge to his 11-year tenure.
The pardon, the second of its kind in three weeks, includes anyone who committed crimes until June 20, the state news agency Sana said. After the first amnesty, Syrian authorities freed hundreds of political prisoners but rights groups say there are still thousands languishing in Syrian jails.
Assad said on Monday he would ask the Justice Ministry to look into issuing a wider amnesty because, according to meetings he held with local leaders, he 'felt that the (first) amnesty was not satisfactory for many...and there is a desire that this (second) amnesty be more inclusive'.
Rights groups say the crackdown against protesters has intensified since the first amnesty was announced on May 31 and hundreds of people have been arrested.
On Tuesday tens of thousands of Syrians turned out for pro-Assad rallies across the country in support of Assad's address in which he promised reforms that were immediately dismissed by protesters.
State television showed rallies in Aleppo, Damascus, and the southern city of Deraa, where protests against Assad first erupted in mid-March. People waved the country's tri-colour flag, carried pictures of the president and flew red, white and black balloons in the air.
Witnesses in Deraa said security forces opened fire to disperse several thousand protesters in the city's old quarter. They took to the streets in reaction to a pro-government rally in the Mahatta area which they said employees and army forces in civilian clothes had been ordered to attend. - Reuters
More Government & Laws Stories
- UAE summons Iraq envoy over Saudi comments
- Saudi clarifies no pilgrimage ban on Brotherhood
- Bahraini minister evades municipal council quizzing
- Terrorists' identities in Bahrain exposed
- Arab nations called to fight terror in unity
- Bahrain to fast-tract action against terror suspects
- Alwaleed Foundation backs women in politics
- Saudi 'must name and shame corrupt officials'
- Libya's ousted PM Zeidan on way to Europe
- Bahrain set for big eGovernment forum
- Ministries under fire for 'failing to implement projects'
- Bahrain finance minister to be quizzed over irregularities
- 2 policemen hurt in Eker blast
- Libyan parliament sacks PM after tanker escape
- Saudi sets up panel on labour disputes
- Sand-dredging bill is hit by funding row
- Saudi rejects Maliki's charges on funding militants
- Independent foreign policy non-negotiable: Qatar
- Bahrain to crack down on bogus investments
- Bahrain urged to set up national plan to fight cyber crime
- Galfar ex-CEO gets 15 years' jail over bribes
- New law on family violence on the way in Bahrain
- Four blast suspects are remanded in Bahrain
- Bahrain to step up war on terror
- Norton Rose Fulbright moves London head to Dubai
- DSG ‘ready to implement Smart Dubai Strategy’
- Iraqi women protest new draft law
- Bahrain police 'face more danger in line of duty'
- Saudi names Brotherhood as terrorist group
- Qatar outraged over terror claims