Assad Declares Amnesty for Prisoners

Less than a week after winning Syria’s democratic farce, also known as its presidential election, Bashar al-Assad declared a general amnesty for all prisoners within the country on Monday. Syria’s pro-government Al Ikhbariya television station said that the amnesty decree was issued in the “context of social tolerance and national unity,” according to the justice minister. However, it is not remotely clear what Assad means by “amnesty.” It is by no means certain that any prisoners will actually be released. The state-run SANA news agency did not say whether amnesty would apply to tens of thousands of jailed opposition supporters. Instead, SANA’s report implied that the government would reduce sentences rather than free prisoners. Whatever amnesty entails, it is likely not enough to heal the wounds of three years of bloody civil war in which the death toll has been estimated at more than 160,000.