Syria frees horse rider who rivalled Assad brother

Updated 19 June 2014

Syria frees horse rider who rivalled Assad brother

BEIRUT: Syria has freed after 21 years in jail an ex-horse rider known to have been an equestrian rival of one of President Bashar Assad’s late brothers, reports said Sunday.
The release of Adnan Qassar is part of a wide-reaching amnesty that Assad decreed last week, and has seen some 1,500 people freed from the war-ravaged country’s prisons, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“In 1993, Adnan Qassar was one of the top horse riders in Syria and the Arab world. He won a horse race against Bassel Assad,” who at the time was being groomed for the presidency, said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
“Qassar was thrown in Saydnaya jail (near Damascus) for his ‘crime’,” said Abdel Rahman.
Aks Alser, a Syrian opposition activist website, also reported Qassar’s release, and said he had been accused of “possessing explosives, and of trying to assassinate Bassel Assad.”
Qassar was jailed “without trial,” it added.
A year later when Bassel Assad died in a traffic accident, “Qassar was dragged out of his cell to a public square, beaten and then thrown back in jail. It took them 21 years to release him,” said Abdel Rahman.
The Assad clan has ruled Syria with an iron fist for more than 40 years.
“Qassar was not a political activist. But in Syria, no one is allowed to be better at anything than the Assads,” Abdel Rahman said.
Qassar was set free as part of a wide-reaching general amnesty that President Assad decreed last week.
So far, some 1,500 people have been set free from jails across the country, most of them from Damascus, according to the Observatory.
The amnesty is unprecedented because it pledges pardon and reduce sentences for people jailed under Syria’s controversial 2012 anti-terror law, which has seen tens of thousands of people jailed over political charges.
The regime has systematically branded armed and unarmed dissidents, including journalists, of being “foreign-backed terrorists.”
“Some of those released so far are prisoners of conscience, others were in jail over criminal charges,” Abdel Rahman said.
The number of those released so far pales in comparison to the estimated total of 100,000 people imprisoned, including some 50,000 held in security buildings dotted across the country.
Rights groups say torture and ill-treatment are systematic in Syria’s jails.


Abu Dhabi bans travel in, out and within emirate to limit coronavirus spread

Updated 31 May 2020

Abu Dhabi bans travel in, out and within emirate to limit coronavirus spread

  • The restrictions come into force on Tuesday and last for a week
  • Traveling will not be allowed between the areas of Abu Dhabi city, Al-Ain and Al-Dhafrah

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi has banned travel into and out of the emirate and between its three regions from Tuesday.
The restrictions, announced by the Abu Dhabi Emergency and Crisis Committee, come into force on Tuesday and last for a week.
Both residents and nationals will not be allowed to travel between the areas of Abu Dhabi city, Al-Ain and Al-Dhafrah. 
The decision is meant to enhance the effectiveness of the “National Screening Program and reduce the spread of covid-19,” Abu Dhabi Media Office said.
Exemptions are available by a special private permit for employees of vital sectors, or chronic disease patients heading to hospitals, and the transportation of goods.