Bloomberg News

Germany Seeks Clarification After Greens Syria Activist Beaten

December 28, 2011

Dec. 28 (Bloomberg) -- The German Foreign Ministry called on investigators to clear up the alleged beating of a Syrian opposition figure and Greens party member in Berlin this week after the party said it was probably the work of Syrian agents.

German officials have been in contact with Ferhad Ahma, a Green politician in Berlin’s Mitte district, ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer told reporters today in Berlin. Ahma, 37, said he was beaten at his apartment early on Dec. 26 by two men posing as police officers, police say. Local Greens officials have accused the Syrian government of trying to intimidate Ahma.

“We have great interest in a speedy and thorough clarification of this incident,” Schaefer said. While he stopped short of making any accusations, Schaefer said that “any kind of attempts at intimidation of opposition activists or figures will not be tolerated by the German government.”

The ministry plans to have a “discussion” with the Syrian ambassador today, six days after formally summoning the envoy to protest government violence against protesters as part of unrest in Syria that the United Nations says has killed 5,000 this year.

The case has been transferred to a special investigative unit that probes possible politically motivated crimes, police spokesman Martin Otter said. Ahma told police that two men with clubs appeared at his apartment in Berlin’s Wedding district at 2 a.m. on Dec. 26 and began beating him after he opened the door, police said in a statement yesterday. Ahma suffered minor wounds and didn’t seek medical treatment.

‘Arab Appearance’

Previous threats against Ahma because of his political activities and the “Arab appearance” of the two men suggest that the beating was carried out by Syrian agents, the Green Party said in a statement on its local website.

“The Syrian regime is showing that it will even target democracy and progress abroad,” Greens council members Jutta Schauer-Oldenburg and Andrea Fischer said in the statement. Ahma is a Greens member of the district’s council.

Calls to the Syrian embassy in Berlin were diverted to an answering machine stating that the call took place outside of opening hours. The embassy’s website contains an Oct. 6 statement rejecting allegations that Syrian diplomats were involved in acts of intimidation, such as filming and photographing anti-regime protesters.

“Syrian diplomats and other employees of the embassy are strictly to observe the regulations of guest countries and international law,” the embassy said in the October statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at pdonahue1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net


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