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Syria Jails Activists

Syria has arrested and detained twelve activists. They include Anwar al-Bunni, Syria's leading human rights lawyer; Michel Kilo, an opposition leader and journalist; and Ghalem Amer, a board member of the Arab Organization for Human Rights in Syria.

In a written statement, Human Rights Watch, an independent monitoring group, says that those taken into custody are among some three-hundred Lebanese and Syrians "who signed a petition on May 12th calling for improved Lebanese-Syrian relations based on respect for each country's sovereignty."

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says that the arrests "are merely the latest examples of Syria's blatant abuse of the rights of those who would peacefully seek to express their views":

"We continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Syria. . . .The United States is disturbed by a clear pattern of increased repression by the Syrian government of democracy and human rights activists. The United States deplores the atmosphere of fear being fostered by the Syrian authorities."

The crackdown in Syria comes after the passage of United Nations Security Council resolution sixteen-eighty, which calls on Syria to "respond positively to the request made by the government of Lebanon. . . .to delineate their common border. . . . .and to establish full diplomatic relations and representations."

Syria's two-decade occupation of Lebanon ended in April 2005 after international pressure and massive Lebanese protests following the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri and twenty-two others in a car bombing.

"Arrests without warrant and sentences without evidence are not acceptable means of addressing political dissent," says State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. He says the United States urges Syria "to cease harassment of Syrians who seek to defend their rights and to bring democratic change to their country."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.