Your Non-Shocking News Story of the Day

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on July 17, 2010

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One really hopes that nobody was surprised by this:

An international human rights organisation on Friday criticised Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, for failing to deliver on promises of political reform 10 years after he took office, saying his decade of rule had been marked by repression.

In a report titled “A Wasted Decade,” Human Rights Watch said state security agencies continue to detain people without arrest warrants, frequently refuse to disclose their whereabouts for weeks or even months, and regularly engage in torture. It also said special courts set up under emergency laws sentence people following unfair trials, while the Kurdish minority was denied its basic rights.

The report comes two weeks after Syria attracted condemnation from human rights groups for jailing a prominent human rights lawyer and veteran activist, Haitham al-Maleh, for three years for charges of “weakening national morale”. Mr Maleh is 78 years old, in poor health and spent several years in prison in the 1980s.

A second prominent human rights lawyer, Mohannad al-Hassani, was also jailed for three years last month on similar charges.

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