Region | Syria

Former Syrian lawmaker flees to Jordan

Former Syrian lawmaker and democracy activist Ma'moun Al Homsi last week fled to Jordan and vowed to launch an international campaign to free 13 "prisoners of conscience" as well as to work for democracy.

  • Gulf News Report
  • Published: 00:00 June 20, 2006
  • Gulf News

Dubai: Former Syrian lawmaker and democracy activist Ma'moun Al Homsi last week fled to Jordan and vowed to launch an international campaign to free 13 "prisoners of conscience" as well as to work for democracy.

Speaking to Gulf News from Amman, Al Homsi said he was planning to launch a campaign to free the 13 activists jailed in Syria.

"The activists, including Michele Kilo and Anwar Al Bunni, were arrested last month along with 11 others for signing a Beirut-Damascus declaration that called for balanced relations between the two countries.

They were referred to court on charges that carry life imprisonment.

"The international community should put pressure on the Damascus regime to free them, because the charges against them were simply faked," he said.

Al Homsi said he would meet European Union parliamentarians and human rights activists to discuss ways of granting the rights of Syrian intellectuals to express their views freely.

"The European Union is responsible for the deterioration of basic human rights in Syria, and EU parliamentarians should act now to help Kilo, Al Bunni and the others.

"Syrian regime has arrested more than 500 people in recent months for their views and beliefs. EU has remained a mere spectator, watching the regime crush the opposition," he said.

He said if Kilo, Al Bunni and their colleagues were to be imprisoned then the plan for a balanced political environment would not materialise for another 30 years.

"The lack of democracy in Syria is not in the best interests of the EU and would not help its investment in the region," Al Homsi warned.

He said he attended part of the court sessions of the 13-activist group when he was in Damascus two weeks ago and felt that the court was trying to prolong hearings.

"The support the activists enjoy for the time being will wear off after some time which will allow the regime to serve harsh sentences," he said.

Al Homsi was himself imprisoned for being a member of what is known as the 2001 Damascus-Spring group.

He served his five-year term in jail for calling for the scrapping of emergency laws. He was released in January this year along with another MP and two lawyers.

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