Syrian Woman Raised in Jail Arrested, Says NGO

The daughter of two anti-regime activists who was born in a Syrian jail 26 years ago has been arrested on her return from a brief trip abroad, a monitor said Tuesday.

"Maria Bahjat Shaabo was born in jail in 1988, while her mother was serving a four-year sentence for her political activism. On Sunday, Maria was arrested," said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Maria was detained when she tried to return to Syria from neighboring Lebanon, after visiting her mother who had been taking part in a medical conference.

"She was arrested on the Syrian side of the border by the intelligence," said Abdel Rahman.

"When she was just a year-and-a-half old, Maria's father was able to get her out and to care for her in her mother's absence. Her mother still had another two-and-a-half years to serve," he told AFP, after speaking with her relatives.

"Then shortly after her mother was released, her father was arrested. He spent nearly 10 years in jail, from 1992 to 2002."

Both of Maria's parents are doctors who were persecuted over their alleged membership in the banned Communist Labor Party.

The party was especially active in the 1980s and 1990s, and opposed the regime of then-president Hafez Assad.

Hafez Assad was succeeded by his son Bashar in the year 2000.

Syria is notorious for its imprisonment of peaceful political activists, and human rights groups allege they have been systematically abused and tortured.

Maria's father was born into the Alawite sect of Shiite Islam, like the Assad clan. Her mother is from a Christian family.

A peaceful revolt demanding democratic change broke out in Syria in 2011. It later morphed into a Sunni-led insurgency, after the Assad regime unleashed a massive crackdown on dissent.

Tens of thousands of people are still held in Syria's jails on political charges, and rights groups say they fear for their lives.

Source: Agence France Presse

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