Syrian security officials have arrested a leading human rights activist as anti-government protests in the country enter their sixth day in defiance of the state’s strict crackdown against any form of dissent.
Loay Hussein, a former political prisoner, was seized from his home in the Sehnaya district in Damascus, according to Syria's Observatory for Human Rights.
Meanwhile, protests marched in the southern city of Deraa, chanting the people want to bring down the regime, according to CNN. There were also rallies in the towns of Sanamain and Jassem.
Deraa was the site of previous demonstrations and clashes between government troops and protesters who were outraged by the killing of six people on Friday by security forces over the weekend.
A witness told CNN that a massive round of protests are also scheduled for Friday.
After a delegation was sent by President Bashar al-Assad to offer condolences” to the families of the dead, local tribal chiefs have put together a list of demands, including a request to have the local police chief and governor of Deraa be held accountable for the deaths of protesters.
Syrian officials have said that the provincial governor of Deraa Faisal Kalthoum was indeed sacked.
The United Nations Human Rights has called for an independent, transparent and effective investigation into these killings.
The use of excessive force constitutes a clear violation of international law, which provides for individual criminal responsibility for violations committed, said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
People have the legitimate right to express their grievances and demands to their government, and we urge the Syrian government to enter into a broad, meaningful dialogue with the protesters in an attempt to address those grievances.”
Syria, which has been ruled by the Baath party for almost the past half century under emergency rule, is now facing a unprecedented and rising wave of protest and expression of dissension – something unheard of before the recent revolutionary fervor that has swept across the Arab world.
The Assad regime has been accused of massive human rights violations, including murder, torture and illegal detentions.
Opponents of the government are now demanding democratic reforms and political freedoms.