Wednesday, February 25, 2004

# Posted 12:25 PM by Patrick Belton  

700 LIBERAL SYRIAN INTELLECTUALS have drafted a petition calling for an end to Syria's 41-year old state of emergency, release of political prisoners, and reforms toward multiparty liberal democracy. Here is their petition:
On March 8, 1963, the Council of the Revolutionary Leadership declared a state of emergency in Syria. Although 41 years have passed since then, the state is still bowed under the yoke of the emergency laws, whose effect encompasses all areas of the life of society and citizens in Syria. As a result, society is under siege, its movement is halted, its potential is damaged, and thousands of citizens are thrown into prison because of their opinions, political views, or charges that do not constitute a criminal offense.

The ramifications of the emergency law (the military laws and the special courts) have engendered special military laws, that depend to a large extent on the whim of those carrying them out.

We, the undersigned, ask the Syrian authorities to remove the state of emergency and to abolish its ramifications and its effects (legal, political, and economic), including:
* Abolition of all the military laws and all the state-of-emergency laws;
* Ceasing all arbitrary arrests;
* Releasing all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and compensating the injured parties;
* Reexamining [cases] of revocation of citizenship (for political reasons);
* Returning the exiles to their homeland, with legal guarantees;
* Opening the case of those who have disappeared, revealing their fate, regularizing their legal status, and compensating their relatives;
* Giving democratic freedom, including the right to establish [political] parties and civil associations.

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