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 Syrian political prisoners go on hunger strike


Today, 13 Syrian political prisoners have begun a hunger strike to demand their release and the lifting of emergency laws that give authorities a free hand to jail political and human rights activists, a rights group said Monday.
The prisoners include prominent human rights activist Haitham al-Maleh, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Al-Maleh, who is 80 years old and has diabetes and thyroid problems, has been under arrest since October 2009. He was jailed from 1980 until 1986 for demanding constitutional reforms.
The rights group said the activists launched the hunger strike in Damascus' Adra prison. The political detainees also include Ali Abdullah of the Damascus Declaration opposition group, prominent lawyer Anwar al-Bunni and Kurdish activist Mashaal Tammo.
The political detainees demanded an end to the emergency laws in force since the Baath Party came to power in 1963.
"Time has come to end this persecution matter as the winds of democratic change spread in the Arab world," the political detainees were quoted as saying in a statement from the rights group.
The rights group said it backs the detainees and called for their immediate release.

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