BEIRUT - Thirteen Syrian political prisoners have gone on hunger strike to protest against "political detentions and oppression" in their country, a rights group said on Monday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced the hunger strike on the eve of the anniversary of a 1963 coup when Syria's Baath Party seized power, banning any opposition and imposing emergency laws which are still in place.

The list of striking prisoners included 80-year-old Haitham al-Maleh, a former judge serving a three year jail term after criticizing corruption in Syria, and lawyer Anwar al-Bunni, jailed for five years in 2007 for "weakening public morale".

"The time has come to end this state of oppression, in line with the winds of democratic change sweeping through the Arab world," the organization quoted the prisoners saying.

They said that rights could not be "legitimate in Egypt and Tunisia and other countries, and not legitimate in Syria".

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