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Sweden warns Syria over dissident harrassment

Sweden warns Syria over dissident harrassment

Published: 04 Oct 2011 15:18 GMT+02:00
Updated: 04 Oct 2011 15:18 GMT+02:00

Sweden and France on Tuesday warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime against attacking or intimidating Syrian opposition in exile, amid reports of assaults and threats in several European capitals.

Global rights watchdog Amnesty International said Syrian pro-democracy activists had been harrassed in eight countries, with Sweden's foreign minister Carl Bildt among those issuing a stern warning:

"If there are diplomats who engage in activities in this country that are not compatible with their diplomatic status they are not welcome in Sweden."

Amnesty International has said it had documented cases of attacks and intimidation against 30 activists in eight countries: Britain, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the United States.

It urged countries hosting Syrians, such as Sweden and France which have become hubs of opposition activity, to "take stronger action against Syrian embassies accused of orchestrating this kind of harassment and intimidation."

Amnesty's Syria researcher Neil Sammonds said Syrians living abroad are becoming increasingly vocal in their support of the growing protest movement back home that has been demanding Assad step down.

"In response the regime appears to have waged a systematic - sometimes violent - campaign to intimidate Syrians overseas into silence," he said.

Amnesty said protesters outside Syrian embassies are initially filmed or photographed by officials then subjected to harassment, including phone calls,

emails and Facebook messages warning them to stop.

Some activists say they were directly threatened by embassy officials.

Naima Darwish, who set up a Facebook page to call for protests outside the Syrian embassy in Santiago, Chile, told the rights group she was contacted directly by a senior official who asked to meet her in person.

"He told me that I should not to do such things," she told Amnesty. "He said I would lose the right to return to Syria if I continued."

A number of Syrians said their families back home were targeted by security forces, apparently to deter them from their activities overseas.

After Malek Jandali, a 38-year-old pianist, performed at a demonstration in front of the White House in July, his mother and father, aged 66 and 73, were attacked in their home in the central city of Homs and have since fled Syria.

"We look to host governments to act on credible allegations of abuses," said Sammonds, adding many dissidents were often "too scared of what could happen to them to make formal complaints with the police."

France meanwhile confirmed that it had launched an investigation after thugs attacked a protest in Paris.

A foreign ministry spokesman said arrests had been made and extra police protection assigned to Syrian opposition protests after the August 26th attack.

"We would not tolerate a foreign state organising acts of violence or intimidation on our territory, and we have made this known in the clearest possible terms to Syria's ambassador in Paris," Bernard Valero said.

"The right to protest freely and peacefully in safety is fully guaranteed by the French constitution, and it is also obvious that France supports the Syrian people's hopes for freedom," he said.

"An inquiry is under way, and we hope that it will come quickly to a conclusion," he added.

According to the French daily Le Monde, a small group of Syrian protesters that gathers regularly in a square in central Paris has been insulted, filmed and on at least one occasion violently attacked by thugs.

Valero confirmed that there had been arrests after one such incident on August 26th, but denied a report in the Le Monde that suggested that two of the suspects were carrying Syrian diplomatic papers.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:23 October 4, 2011 by motti
Hmmm, Wouldn't Sweden like to have Syria, Egypt, Lebanon as near neighbours and Iran with Iraq just a short missile away?
18:34 October 4, 2011 by Scott McCoy
Sweden Warns Syria,,Whats Sweden gonna do,throw there powder puffs at them.
19:17 October 4, 2011 by gh2008
i just hope that i am wrong regarding what is happening in M.E.
23:31 October 4, 2011 by wxman
Not to worry, Israel has the answer to all our Islamic problems. Most of the M.E. will be unapproachable for 50 years or so.
23:52 October 4, 2011 by gh2008
Israel is part of the M.E.

being part of the problem is not going to help solving the problem; regardless the intention the Israelis have. so our friend, Motti, won't get upset about it.
13:37 October 6, 2011 by motti
GH, what is to be upset about, is what you are not being informed by the international media. Assad has warned that if NATO attacks Syria, then Syria will fire thousands of rockets against Israel. His allies, Lebanon and Hezbullah along the northern border, Hamas in Gaza and the PA (fatah) west of the Jordan river) will also act in accordance.

Just to let you know that Barak has warned these groups and countries, that if they do start a heavy (thousands) missile attack, against Tel Aviv and other places, it will not just be Damascus and Beirut that will be destroyed. No doubt, as usual, when Israel retaliates she will be condemned and told to act proportionately.

I agree, Israel will need to fire thousands of missiles against civilians in the neighbouring countries, in proportion of deliverance and destination.

As mentioned above, I am sure, you are pleased not have any of the Arab or Moslem countries bordering your country with the open intention to wipe you off the face of the earth.

The USA has just confirmed that Israel is now the world's 3rd largest arms exporter. When Israel withdrew to her present lines on the Golan Heights after the 1973 war, Syria began a bombardment against the Israeli held lines. Israel retaliated with an artillery response that hit military targets in Damascus. Syria then stopped the bombardment.

May I suggest you check out the excellent Israeli intelligence website DEBKAFILE to locate facts and to understand the depth of any ongoing problems, militarily, politically etc. Believe me please, you will not need to bother with your daily newspaper nor CNN, Sky, BBC, etc etc. in order to obtain unbiased facts. Let me know what you think.
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