Syrian Sit-in Protest Dispursed

Syrians protest the government arrests of 8 opposition members:

About 100 Syrians held a pre-dawn sit-in Wednesday in central Damascus to protest at the arrest of all eight members of the only opposition political forum that had been tolerated until a crackdown 24 hours earlier.

The demonstrators included opposition members, human rights activists and friends and family of the eight people seized on Tuesday, an AFP correspondent said.

Those in Wednesday’s sit-in denied to AFP that the Al-Atassi Forum for National Dialogue, made up of the eight detainees, had any links with the banned Muslim Brotherhood, with one man stressing that they “were working for democracy and respect of human rights.”

Police later dispursed the protesters:

Syrian police dispersed 200 people holding a sit-in in central Damascus to protest at the arrest of all eight members of the only opposition political forum which had been tolerated by the government.

Opposition members, human rights activists and friends and family of the eight people seized on Tuesday had gathered a second night to protest the arrests of the members of the Al-Atassi Forum for National Dialogue.

Forum founder Suhair al-Atassi and writer Hussein al-Awadat, who previously headed the official SANA news agency and served as an advisor in the prime minister’s office, were among the detainees.

Also arrested were activists Nahed Badawiyah, Hazem al-Nahar, Jihad Massouti, Mohammad Mahfouz, Abdulnasser Kalhous and Youssef al-Jihmani.

The Atassi Forum was one of a number set up in a brief political honeymoon after President Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father Hafez in 2000 but was the only one still operating amid an intensifying crackdown by the authorities.

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