Syrian detainees retake control of Hama prison

Syrian detainees retake control of Hama prison
Political prisoners have taken over a Syrian regime-controlled prison in Hama province for a second time this month, after Damascus halted release of detainees, part of an earlier agreement.
2 min read
26 May, 2016
The prisoners reached an agreement two weeks ago with the Syrian regime [Facebook]

Syrian detainees at Hama prison have taken control of the detention centre for a second time this month and are holding guards captive.

The political prisoners took the action after the Syrian regime went back on an earlier agreement reached two weeks ago to end an earlier protest, a spokesperson said.

Central to the deal was a promise to release detainees in batches. Although 491 political prisoners were promised early release the regime have only freed 163 men before halting the amnesty.

"The protest started because the regime did adhere to the agreement… and released 'shabiha' [armed pro-regime gangs] convicted of criminal charges not political prisoners," a spokesperson for the detainees told The New Arab.

"The regime promised to release 491 detainees and now they are denying the [any agreement]."

This week, the prisoner release ground to a halt with the warden blaming the delay Damascus authorities. Many detainees have also been rearrested shortly after leaving jail.

Following the breaking of the agreement, detainees took control of the main gate separating the prison ward from the guards' offices on Wednesday.

Seven guards and one officer are being held by the detainees, who the spokesperson insisted are being treated well.

The Syrian regime responded by cutting water to the prison and have surrounded the jail making detainees fear "a massacre is imminent".

The protesters are demanding the release of political prisoners, medical care for the sick in the jail, better conditions, and end the death penalty.

The initial protest began at the start of May, when detainees took control of the prison when guards attempted to transport five political prisoners from Hama jail to one of the country's most feared prisons in Damascus, where they were to be executed.