Bashar al-Assad has passed a general amnesty for political prisoners, including the Muslim Brotherhood. However, only a few hundred were realeased, while thousands remained in custody. Further, according to the Syrian Communist Party’s leadership, the amnesty is not inclusive of their group, as it is does not cover individuals who are members of organisations seeking to alter the economic or social fabric of Syria; whatever that means. Also, Haitham al-Maleh notes the amnesty was not coupled with an annulment of the law carrying a death penalty for any individual who is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Thus, while Bashar al-Assad superficially announced an amnesty, he continues with the prohibition of any political acitivism outside the state security apparatus. Further, as an amnesty was announced, with empty platitudes regarding a new timetable for national dialogue, the army continued to siege and assault towns and cities across Syria. Only recently both Rastan and Talbisa, in the Homs province, faced a brutal military repression that included tank bombardment – scores of citizens were killed, though the exact numbers are not clear. The operations in these two towns also consisted of mass arrests, this while an amnesty was being announced! Also, there was further arrests across Syria.
In other news, As-Sharq al-Awsat narrates the arrest of the influential Muslim scholar Muhammad Rateb al-Nabulsi, according to his students. Further, they claim he has been under arrest for a few days and is held in one of the many prisons of the Syrian intelligence. Muhammad Rateb al-Nabulsi provided a mellow critique of the regime’s crackdown and signed a statement calling on the state to desist from its brutal security crackdown.