10 Reasons Why Arab Spring Happened and Continues a Year on

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July 14, 2012 00:25
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REASON # 7: POLICE STATE

Police state can be described as a state in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls with the help of secret police forces and agencies over the social, economic and political life of the nation.

Syria is one such state in the Middle East where the dynastic Al-Assad regime represses people with the help of the secret services and other state apparatus. The country is void of any form of political freedoms and the decades long arbitrary laws forbid any form of demonstration, activism or dissent.

syria police state

President Bashar Al-Assad, 45, is the autocratic leader of Syria. His regime is accused of human rights abuses, economic mismanagement, interference in Lebanese affairs, corruption and nepotism. Critics insist members from his Alawi Shiite sect dominate the state security apparatus as well as the military elite. Photo - Presidentassad.net

Fuelled by poverty, unemployment and harsh economic conditions, the masses rose up against the Bashar Al-Assad regime. The regime retaliated with full force and has killed at least 5,000 people by opening fire on protestors and summarily executing suspected opposition activists. Many opposition political activists and human rights groups insist the Syrian military and intelligence services, commonly known as the ‘Shabiha’ are behind the massacres and arbitrary arrests taking place in cities like Homs, Daraa, Deir Az Zor, Hama, Latakia, Idlib, Banyas, Duma, Qamishili and other towns and cities.

The Human Rights Watch, along with Syrian Human Rights Committee, maintains that thousands of political prisoners, including bloggers and journalists critical of the Baathist regime, remain imprisoned in Syrian jails without any trials.

The country remains under a state of emergency when the Baath Party seized power in 1963. The four major organs of security forces are the air force intelligence, general intelligence directorate, military intelligence and the political security directorate. These agencies, known as Mukhabarat (intelligence), enjoy wide ranging powers including the right to detain any person on suspicion for longer periods without any arrest warrant.

Syria is one of the most repressive countries in the world in terms of freedom of expression and information. Criticism of the president, ruling Baath party or discussions on the ethno-religious issues in Syria remain particularly sensitive and are often punished. The repression comes despite the fact that Syrian constitution enshrines the right of every citizen “to freely and openly express his/her views in words, in writing, and through all other means of expression,” while also guaranteeing “the freedom of the press, of printing, and publication in accordance with the law.”

Flash points: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordan, Iraq.

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