[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [text] Tuesday that Syrian security forces have stopped medical personnel, sometimes violently, from attending to injured protesters. A spokesperson for the group called the practice “both inhumane and illegal.” According to the report, at least 28 protesters died Friday in protests spread across three cities. Witnesses said security forces opened fire when civilians tried to remove the injured from the scenes and that in Daraa an ambulance was blocked from reaching wounded protesters. Witnesses also reported that security forces controlled hospitals in Daraa and Harasta and would not admit injured protesters. State-controlled media claimed that protesters attacked members of the security forces [Sana report, in Arabic], killing 19 of them. The HRW report called on security forces to allow peaceful protest and for an end to the violence in Syria. The recent protests in Syria have led to more than 170 deaths [AP report].
Last month, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [Al Jazeera profile] ordered the formation of a committee [JURIST report] that will discuss repealing the country’s 48-year-old state of emergency law that bans protests and allows police to detain civilians without charges. Al-Assad announced earlier in March that the government would consider ending the state of emergency [JURIST report]. Also last month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] urged the Syrian government [JURIST report] to ensure protesters’ rights to peaceful expression and to work toward addressing their concerns instead of responding with violence. As demonstrations continued throughout the country in March, the government freed 260 political detainees [AFP report] in an overture to the protesters. Last month, Syria appeared to be lifting the four-year-old ban [JURIST report] on social media sites Facebook [website; JURIST news archive] and YouTube [website; JURIST news archive] as a concession to avoid popular upheaval [DP report].