Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, had issued a general amnesty in a desperate effort to restore order to a country that has convulsed with rioting and violence over the past two and a half months.
State-run media announced that Assad “has by decree issued an amnesty on all [political] crimes committed before May 31, 2011.
The amnesty will cover members affiliated with all political movements, including even the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and all political prisoners.
Membership in The Muslim Brotherhood was punishable by death since 1982 when Assad’s father, Hafez, brutally cracked won on an armed rebellion by that group.
The Damascus regime had been repeatedly blaming the unrest on “foreign agitators” and “armed criminals.”
However, Syrian opposition figures who are meeting in neighboring Turkey have scoffed at the amnesty offer.
This measure is insufficient: we demanded this amnesty several years ago, but it's late in coming, activist Abdel Razak Eid told Agence France Presse.
We are united under the slogan: the people want the fall of the regime and all those who have committed crimes brought to account. Blood will not have been spilled in vain.”
Syrian human activists estimate that at least 10,000 people have been detained by the authorities since the revolt broke out, while at least 1,000 have been killed.
The amnesty comes as tanks keep rolling into Syrian towns to quell ongoing protests.
Moreover, the amnesty offer might be a sign of desperation from Assad, who is now likely feeling the heat from sanctions that have been imposed upon him and some of his top officials by both the European Union and The United States.