“Yes, there has been a crackdown on opposition leaders in Syria,”
They are the words of Syria’s liberal Ambassador to the US, Imad Moustapha. “But,” he adds confusingly, ‘it is not the long term policy of Syria.’
So why has Anwar Al-Bunni (above) been arrested? Has Bashar lost control, or suddenly found control?
Anwar Al-Bunni is the country’s leading human rights activist. I’ve quoted him many times in the Syria News Wire, and just yesterday I watched him on Al Jazeera talking about the arrest of Michel Kilo.
His family say he was dragged away from his house after asking two police officers who came to his door to show him their arrest warrant.
Others are reporting many arrests across Syria in the biggest crackdown on opposition since Bashar came to power. There have been a handful of arrests since the start of his presidency, but it has been characterised by prisoner releases – the most recent was just a few months ago.
What is happening to Syria that causes the country’s defenders to be locked up – Michel Kilo yesterday, Anwar Al-Bunni today. We can only hope that they’ll be released in the next couple of days, and it’s just Syrian government paranoia kicking in.
In these situations, we normally turn to Anwar for a comment. We normally rely on Anwar for the real version of events. Now it is Anwar who is the story.
The arrests mount:
– Kamal Labwani – arrested as he returned to Syria after holding talks with dissidents and US government officials in Washington
– Mohammed Ghanem – runs the surion.org website
– Michel Kilo – called for Damascus to sort out its relationship with Beirut
– Anwar Al-Bunni – defended the government’s opponents