Last updated: 16 April, 2012

42 Syrians held over parliament demonstrations

A Syrian rights activist expressed alarm on Monday after the arrest of 42 protesters among 500 people holding a candle-lit vigil outside parliament last week to demand an end to killings.

A group of youths carrying candles staged the sit-in on Thursday in front of the parliament building in Damascus, “demanding an end to the killings,” said Anwar Bunni, who heads the Centre for Legal Research and Studies.

“Forty-two people were arrested, and some of them were seriously hurt,” Bunni wrote on his Facebook page, condemning the “savagery employed against peaceful protesters.”

He confirmed the number of arrests to AFP by telephone.

“They carried candles… to demand an end to the killings. They were attacked with massive brutality by security forces, who hit the demonstrators, including aged women,” he wrote.

Although protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime have raged in Damascus suburbs and the provinces since March 2011, they remain rare in the heart of the capital.

Last week, a woman was arrested after staging a solo protest outside parliament, also to demand an end to the killings, which monitors said on Monday number more than 11,000 people since March 2011.

A YouTube video posted online shows the young woman holding a red placard bearing the message: “Stop the killings. We want to build a Syria for all Syrians.”

On Saturday, security forces also arrested journalist and writer Marie Issa and her husband, urologist Joseph Nakhle, “in front of their children,” at their home in the Damascus suburb of Jaramana, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

It said they were arrested for their “peaceful activities in support of the revolution in Syria.”

Basketball player Fateh Srour was also arrested on Sunday at Damascus airport after an internal flight from Aleppo where his team Al-Jaish had played a Syrian championship game, said the dissident Free Sports Union.

“Intelligence services could have arrested him at the game, but they preferred to wait until he arrived in Damascus, due to the presence of media during the championship,” the union said in a statement.