Monday, 28 April 2008

Prison riots

Iraqi prisoners in Bulgaria, Lebanese prisoners in east Beirut and detainees in Syria have mutinied in the last few days:

Bulgaria's news agency reports:
A riot broke up in the Bulgarian prison for temporary detention of illegally staying foreign citizens near Busmanci.

Around 13 o'clock six Iraqi citizens and a few other prisoners barricaded themselves in one of the building's corridors. Shortly after that the police arrived at the scene.

The prisoners set a mattress afire during the riot, but the smoke in the closed hall made them come out and surrender to the police.

The rioters are six Iraqi citizens, who were to be extradited tomorrow through Hungary, then to Syria, and from there to Iraq. The Hungarian authorities denied issuing them transit visas, so the whole journey was pushed back to April 30th.

Apparently the delay is the reason for the unrest. The six Iraquis were caught trying to cross Bulgaria's borders more than a month ago.

The Associated Press reports:
Calm returned to Lebanon's largest prison a day after scores of inmates set their clothes on fire and took guards hostage to demand better conditions and reduced sentences.

Seven policemen who were taken hostage were released early Friday after nine hours of negotiations between senior police officers and representatives of the rioting inmates at Roumieh prison, according to a police statement.

The prisoners returned to their cells amid tight security to prevent additional rioting.

Thursday's riots began when prisoners attacked their guards and took some of them hostage, the officials said. Some of the 200 rioting prisoners set their clothes on fire and black smoke was seen billowing from the building for some time.

The Roumieh prison was built 40 years ago to hold 1,000 inmates, but more than 3,000 are currently held there.

Lebanon's LBc runs interview with a priest and the relatives of prisoners on the reasons behid the protest.

From the Institute for War & Peace Reporting:
Reports of unrest and a fire at the Saidnaya military prison underscore the need for more transparency about the conditions in Syrian prisons, human rights activists and family members of prisoners say.

Numerous reports surfaced this week of disturbances at the jail, northeast of Damascus, where many political prisoners are held, but few details have been confirmed.

The government has not commented on or released any information about the reports of unrest.

The prison, which opened in 1987, holds an estimated 1,000 prisoners, according to rights groups, including Kurds, Islamists and democratic activists.

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