Hundreds of tortured detainees released, says Syria rights group

Apr 14, 2011, 12:37 GMT

Damascus – Syrian security released hundreds of detainees on Thursday, whom the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said had been tortured.

The rights group said the detainees had been accused of taking part in anti-government protests last week in the city of Banias, a coastal town in northwestern Syria, and the nearby town of Baida.

Testimonies by the recently released group of detainees prove that that they were subject to severe acts of torture, said the rights group.

The effects of abuse on their bodies was documented in videos and photos, but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it would not release the images. No further details were given.

Their release comes after more than 5,000 women and children had gathered Wednesday on the main road linking the towns of Tartus and Banias to demand the release of their relatives.

A Syrian activist told the German Press Agency dpa that ‘in an apparent attempt to calm the women’s demonstration, authorities released about 100 of the detainees and brought them to the area where the protesters had gathered.’

International rights groups have said that over 100 people have been killed since anti-government protests began nearly one month ago.

Meanwhile, Syrian state TV aired confessions from another batch of detainees, who said they had received money and arms from Lebanon to ignite protests and destabilize the country.

The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that some of the protesters taking part in demonstrations against his government are part of a foreign conspiracy to sow strife in Syria.

One man in the taped confession said he was the head of an ‘armed terrorist group’ and that he had received arms and money from Lebanese parliamentarian Jamal Jarrah.

Jarrah belongs to the Future Current Movement led by former Lebanese premier Saad Hariri, who was assisinated in 2005.

The Lebanese parliamentarian denied the accusations and said the Future Current Movement ‘has neither the desire nor the capacity or means to interfere in Syrian affairs or destabilize the country.’



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