April 4, 2011 / 8:47 AM / 8 years ago

Prominent Syrian rights defender Atassi free: lawyer

AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian authorities have released prominent human rights defender Suhair al-Atassi, one of her lawyers said on Monday.

Atassi, who was dragged by her hair and arrested in Marjeh Square in Damascus at a March 16 silent protest to demand the release of political prisoners, was released just before midnight on Sunday, the lawyer said.

Secret police dispersed the protest and arrested more than 40 activists and relatives of prisoners.

Two days later, protests erupted in the southern city of Deraa, partly fueled by the arrest of Diana Jawabra, an engineer from the southern city, at the Marjeh Square protest.

Jawabra was at Marjeh to demand release of 15 children arrested in her home city after writing slogans on walls that were inspired by the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions.

The Deraa uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s 11 years of autocratic rule was followed by protests in Damascus, the coast and areas in between.

Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis; Editing by Jon Boyle

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