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Pages 20-25

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From page 20...
... The Syrian government has strictly controlled the activities of the Bar Association, the Engineers' Association, the Medical Association, and the Pharmacists' Association for the past 12 years because of their activities in late 1979 and 1980 in behalf of greater human rights and freedoms. Both the engineers' and bar associations had set up committees in the late 1970s to secure the release of political detainees.14 The associations also adopted resolutions and undertook negotiations with the government.
From page 21...
... Despite the prime minister's promises, no reforms were undertaken, and the government instead tried to get the associations to repudiate the statements they had adopted. On April 4, 1980, at the beginning of a 5-day meeting of the Damascus branch of the Engineers' Association, a group of about 220 military engineers arrived en masse and called for the repudiation of the February 28 statement and the adoption of a resolution and telegram expressing support for President Assad.
From page 22...
... (As noted above, he was released following the protests of Arab medical associations meeting in Algiers.) The government also changed the laws governing professional associations.
From page 23...
... , Syria still had some semblance of democratic government, and the association developed a tradition of free elections, democratic rule, and relative independence from the government. This remained true even throughout the 1960s, when military coups plagued Syria, and into the 1970s.
From page 24...
... None of the professional associations has held a free election since the 1970s or has been able to express views contrary to government policy. In the 1970s, for example, in addition to calling for human rights and democratic reform, the Engineers' Association raised objections to a government decree that required all new engineering graduates to work immediately for the government for 5 years.
From page 25...
... has similarly found that Syrian legislative decrees restrict "the free administration and independence of the management of trade unions" and has requested the government "to remove excessive restrictions on the right of workers' organizations to elect their representatives freely and to organize their administration and activities without interference by the public authorities, including with regard to the exercise of the right to strike" (International Labor Organization, 1991, 1992)

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