Syrian authorities urge protesters to turn themselves in by mid-May

The Syrian Interior Ministry urged on Monday those who had been “misled” into participating in anti-government protests to turn themselves in before May 15 to avoid punishment, the official Syrian Sana news agency said.

“In accordance to laws and in order to preserve lives and protect security, stability and national unity that the country’s enemies are working to undermine by every means, the Ministry calls upon citizens who were misled into participating in or committing acts punishable by law including carrying weapons, disrupting security or issuing false statements to turn themselves in and hand over their weapons to the relevant authorities,” Sana quoted a statement issued by the ministry as saying.

The ministry also called on Syrians to inform the authorities about “vandals and terrorists and the locations of weapons,” pledging that those who turn themselves in by May 15 will be “exempted from punishment, legal repercussions and prosecutions.”

More than 600 people were estimated to have been killed by Syrian security forces and troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-March.

Protests have continued throughout the country despite Assad’s pledge to carry out political reforms and the lifting of the state of emergency which has been in effect since 1963. Being inspired by the ouster of authoritarian leaders in Tunisia and Egypt, Syrian protesters demand an immediate resignation of Assad, who has been in power since 2000, succeeding his father’s 30-year rule.

The Syrian authorities maintain that the protests have been organized by “extremist and terrorist groups.”

DAMASCUS, May 2 (RIA Novosti)

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