The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 24, 2006

Statement on a Call for the Release of Remaining Prisoners of Conscience in Syria

Syrian authorities recently released five opposition activists arbitrarily detained in 2001 following the "Damascus Spring." The President joins the families and friends of these men -- Riyad Seif, Mamun al-Homsi, Walid al-Bunni, Habib Issa, and Fawaz Tello -- in celebrating their freedom and saluting their courage. The President has deep concern, however, that many political prisoners remain jailed in Syria. The United States calls upon the Syrian authorities to release immediately all remaining Syrian prisoners of conscience, including Dr. Kamal Labwani, Habib Saleh, Nizar Rastanawi, and the final remaining Damascus Spring detainee Arif Dalilah. The Syrian regime continues to deny these prisoners the fundamental rights of freedom of opinion and expression in an ongoing attempt to intimidate any who would oppose it.

The Syrian regime continues to respond to the Syrian people's legitimate calls for change with harsh repression. The United States calls upon the Syrian Government to cease its harassment of Syrians who peacefully seek to bring democratic reform to their country. The United States stands with the people of Syria in their desire for freedom and democracy.


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