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Syrian state of emergency lifted

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Syrian state of emergency lifted

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Syria’s government has lifted the country’s decades-old state of emergency as protests against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad continue.
The state security court, which handled the trials of political prisoners, has been abolished while a new law allowing peaceful protests has been approved.
The repeal of the emergency law was a key demand of protesters.
Earlier, unverified footage from the western city of Homs appeared to show security forces opening fire.
The BBC’s Owen Bennett-Jones says the legal changes will be remarkable to most Syrians after decades of one-party rule, but it is unclear how much difference they will really make.
The indications are that they will not be enough to satisfy the protesters, our correspondent adds. Anti-government demonstrations are reported to have begun in the north-western city of Baniyas after the repeal of the emergency law.

But the country’s interior minister has nonetheless urged people to refrain from taking part in any rallies in the interests of safety and stability.
Mohammed Ibrahim al-Shaar told people “to refrain from taking part in all marches, demonstrations or sit-ins under any banner whatsoever”, in remarks carried by the official news agency, Sana.
He warned that if demonstrations were held, “the laws in force in Syria will be applied in the interest of the safety of the people and the stability of the country”. (BBC)