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Two more activists arrested in Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria, May 30 (UPI) -- The National Organization for Human Rights in Syria revealed that two more people were arrested as part of a campaign to clamp down on public freedoms.

The organization's chief Ammar Kurbi said in a statement that Yasser Melhem was seized from his office and Omar Idlibi taken from his home in Homs in central Syria Tuesday afternoon. They were both then transferred to a detention center in Damascus.

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He said "Melhem was previously imprisoned for belonging to the Communist Action Party and Idlibi is a poet and winner of a prize for Arabic literature."

"The security agencies ordered to transfer the new detainees to Damascus," Kurbi's statement said, indicating that "the arrest was a violation of the law since it was not ordered by a judicial authority."

"The new arrests come within the framework of tightening the noose on human rights and public freedom activists," Kurbi said, urging the authorities to release them immediately.

The Syrian authorities arrested 13 human rights and political activists in the past ten days, released three and referred the others to a civilian court for signing the so-called Beirut-Damascus declaration calling for the rectification of Lebanese-Syrian relations.

In a related development, both Kurbi's National Organization for Human Rights and the Syrian Organization for Human Rights led by Abdel Karim Rihawi denied in separate statements that they were involved in the Beirut-Damascus declaration.

Rihawi said the signatories on his organization's behalf acted individually and they only represented themselves.

Kurbi, for his part, said members who signed the declaration did not reflect the organization's policies or stance.

An estimated 250 intellectuals from Lebanon and Syria signed the declaration.

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