Thousands are gathered under the President’s Bridge in Central Damascus on this Wednesday evening, waiting for the arrival of batches of freed detainees, and hoping to see their missing loved ones among them. In fact, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad issued Sunday Legislative Decree No. 7 granting a general amnesty for most “terrorist crimes” committed by Syrians before April 30th, 2022, except for those that led to the death of a human being.
The pro-government newspaper al-Watan quotes the regime’s Justice minister Ahmad al-Sayed as saying that “the decree is the most important and comprehensive amnesty decree for terrorist crimes, stressing that this demonstrates the strength of the Syrian State, through which it asserts that it is time to open a new page for those who have been deceived or wronged in their right to return to society and contribute to building and reconstructing the country.”
And in fact, Syrian human rights defenders published a list of names of detainees released from the prisons of the Assad regime, during the past hours, while an informed source from Homs spoke to the opposition website al-Souria Net about the release of 150 detainees from the Sednaya Military Prison.
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However, many of those who were waiting to see their relatives were deeply disappointed, according to the opposition website Syria TV. In fact, the Syrian regime deliberately harboured chaos and did not issue lists of names of detainees released by the Ministry of Justice. Thus, it allowed brokers close to officers and influential people in the security branches, to exploit the families’ concern over their detained children, and requested huge sums of money to put them on the lists of releases. However, many were deceived and ended up going back home alone.
Nevertheless, the issuance of this amnesty occurred at a delicate time for the regime. In fact, the leaked videos of the Tadamn massacre might hinder its normalization efforts, as the footage sparked worldwide outrage. Furthermore, the regime and the opposition are preparing for another round of constitutional talks in Geneva on May 28th.