Families of detainees protest for amnesty

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Families of dozens of Islamist prisoners staged a protest Monday in the northern city of Tripoli, demanding general amnesty for their incarcerated relatives. The families demonstrated outside Labor Minister Mohammad Kabbara’s office amid heavy security, according to the state-run National News Agency. The demonstration comes after numerous protests in several areas of the country to demand clemency for those Islamists in prison. Many were arrested on suspicion of joining outlawed Islamist groups, taking up arms against the state or undermining the Army. Many have been in detention awaiting trial for years. Last Monday, detainees at the Roumieh Prison staged a small protest that may have been linked to the calls for release. Concurrently families in east Bekaa and south Beirut protested on the streets and closed roads with burning tires. At Monday’s protest, demonstrators held banners calling on state authorities to pardon the detainees, while blocking the main road to the prominent Nour Square. Following the demonstration, protesters moved on to rally in front Tripoli’s Serail. Several demonstrators urged Lebanon’s political leaders to take up the case and grant the amnesty. The delegation from the families met with North Lebanon Gov. Ramzi Nohra to urge him to relay their message and demands to President Michel Aoun and other authorities, saying that their loved ones were suffering in prison. “The thorny issue ... is being followed up by the relevant authorities,” Nohra said. “More than 70 percent of the detainees from Tripoli are victims of political rifts and tensions,” the delegation said following the meeting. In south Lebanon, families of supporters of radical Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir who have been detained have also been pushing for a similar request. A general amnesty would have to be put forward by the Interior and Justice ministers and be approved by President Michel Aoun.

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