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Thursday, August 07, 2008 

Last of the Damascus Spring prisoners released

Campaigner Aref Dalila has been released.

He was jailed in 2002, as the Damascus Spring - a period of openness at the start of Bashar Al-Assad's presidency - came to an end.

Aref is an economist, and former head of Economics at Damascus University, who was charged with trying to incite armed rebellion. He says he will continue to voice his opinions strongly, and his release wasn't conditional on staying silent.

Interestingly, it's just a few weeks since Ammar Qorabi - head of the National Organisation for Human Rights in Syria - made a plea to Bashar for Aref to be freed: "because of a deterioration in his state of health and to turn a new page with the Syrian opposition". Qorabi continues to be the voice of moderation, and seems to be able to get away with a lot, and achieve even more. That man is on the up.

A handful of other dissidents - most notably Riad Seif - are still in prison.


A good start, hope to see more.

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