Syria lifts emergency, but repressive measures still intact

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Amman, April 20: In yet another sign of giving up to popular demands, the authorities in the Islamic nation of Syria have put an end to the state of emergency imposed since long. However, going by the arrest of a leftist opposition figure, there is enough indication that there will be no stopping to the repressive measures in place.

President Bashar al-Assad on April 19, passed the law to lift the state of emergency after mass protests against his authoritarian rule increased.

However, the removal of the draconian law failed to satisfy the increasing unrest among people who, under a new legislation are now supposed to obtain a permit from the state to stage protests. Protests and sit-ins were still held at several parts of the country.

Mahmoud Issa, a prominent leftist on April 19, was taken from his house by members of Syria's infamous political security division and reports also suggest that more than 20 pro-democracy protesters had been shot dead by the security forces.

Rami Adelrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, was quoted from Reuters as saying, "Issa is a prominent former political prisoner. Arresting him hours after announcing a bill to lift emergency law is reprehensible...Lifting emergency law is long overdue, but there are a host of other laws that should be scrapped, such as those giving security forces immunity from prosecution, and giving powers to military courts to try civilians."

Meanwhile concerns have been raised by international organisations about the heavy loss of life involved. Malcom Smart, Amnesty internationals director for the Middle East and North Africa, was quoted by Reuters as saying, "The concessions now being made by the government have been achieved at a very heavy cost in human lives..There must be no more slaughter. Syria's president must take firm action now to stop the bloody crackdown by his security forces and ensure that those responsible for it are held to account."

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