Amnesty Int'l blasts Syrian crackdown on activists

Human rights group Amnesty International criticized Syria on Tuesday for continuing to arrest human rights activists, calling the political crackdown "a blot" on the country's poor human rights record. The statement came a day after a Syrian state security court sentenced Kurdish human rights activist Riad Drar to five years in prison after convicting him on charges of disseminating false news, inciting sectarian riots and forming a secret organization. The same court also sentenced Abdul-Sattar Qattan, a member of the banned Muslim Brotherhood to 12 years in prison. The Amnesty statement cited the two cases among a list of other detainees and called on Syria to release all of those arrested "due to their beliefs." Arrests of human rights and pro-democracy activists are common in Syria. The statement complained of scores of recent arrests of Kurds, Islamists, human rights activists, writers, students and leftists, as well as harsh sentences and unfair trials. It said several hundred political prisoners are being held.