Berlin discusses activist's beating with Syrian envoy

28th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

The German foreign ministry held talks with Syria's ambassador to Berlin Wednesday over accusations that the regime's secret services had attacked an opposition member in Germany.

A ministry spokeswoman said its political director had discussed with Syria's envoy, Radwan Lutfi, the beating of a local Green party politician of Syrian origin, Ferhard Ahma, at his Berlin home early Monday.

"It was made clear to him that threatening violence against Syrian opposition members in Germany or attempting to intimidate them will in no way be tolerated," the spokeswoman said in a statement.

"Should this occur, we will not hesitate to take the necessary action."

She said Berlin had also conveyed its concern over the "extraordinarily troubling" situation in Syria, saying "the bloodletting must end, political prisoners must be freed and a democratic transformation must begin".

A ministry spokesman had said earlier that the Syrian envoy had been "invited", not summoned.

The ministry, which said it had been in contact with the 37-year-old Ahma, called on investigators to get to the bottom of the case quickly, "in particular the accusations directed at Syria".

The Green party, which Ahma represents on a Berlin district council, said two men claiming to be police arrived at Ahma's flat at around 2:00 am Monday and when he opened the door, began beating him with metal bars and clubs.

It said it suspected the Syrian secret services were behind the assault, in which Ahma, who is a member of the Kurdish minority and has lived in Berlin since 1996, suffered serious bruises and other wounds.

Earlier Ahma, who describes himself as a member of the opposition Syrian National Council based in Istanbul, called on the German foreign ministry to send a clear message condemning the attack against him.

"That would also serve to protect other members of the Syrian opposition in Germany," he told German news agency DPA.

Syrian intelligence is regularly singled out in the annual reports of Berlin's domestic intelligence service as being particularly active in Germany, which has a large Syrian community.

In the 2010 edition, it primarily reported threats against relatives still living in Syria as well as arrests and ill-treatment of those travelling in Syria, including nationals with German passports.

The United Nations says more than 5,000 people have lost their lives in nine months of bloody repression of anti-regime demonstrators by Syrian government forces.

© 2011 AFP

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