The Syrian regime has carried out a wave of arbitrary arrests against former activists in opposition areas that surrendered under deals brokered by Russia, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Tuesday (May 21st).
The agreements that restored regime control over swathes of central and southern Syria last year offered amnesty to all who agreed to end their anti-government activities, AFP reported.
But HRW said its research showed that former regime critics and opposition fighters who signed up for "reconciliation" had paid heavily for their decision.
It said it had documented 11 cases of arbitrary detention and disappearance in three areas retaken by regime forces last year -- the southern province of Daraa, Eastern Ghouta, and southern neighbourhoods of Damascus.
Syrian organisations have documented at least 500 arrests in the three areas since August, HRW said.
“Active combat has ended in much of Syria, but nothing has changed in the way intelligence branches trample rights of perceived opponents of [regime] rule," said HRW's acting Middle East director, Lama Fakih.
“Lack of due process, arbitrary arrests, and harassment, even in so-called reconciled areas, speak louder than empty government promises of return, reform and reconciliation."
HRW said those targeted included family members as well former opposition activists and fighters, noting that in all cases, the people targeted had signed reconciliation agreements with the Syrian regime.