BEIRUT: Thousands of people dismissed from their public sector jobs in Hama province have been the victims of politically motivated actions by the authorities – as well as arbitrary moves – a report issued Monday by an anti-regime group claimed.
The Violations and Documentation Center, based in Syria, accused the Political Security intelligence agency of being behind many of the dismissals, and included copies of memorandums issued as part of the dismissal campaign and the testimony of those affected.
One of the chief causes for dismissal involved being detained by security authorities, which sets in motion a complex bureaucratic chain of correspondence. The report said that although many people were released after their detention and being found innocent of any wrongdoing, memorandums recommending their reinstatement were usually rejected in the end by the Political Security branch.
“In some cases, Political Security calls up the laid-off employee for interrogation and tries to buy his loyalty by offering him his job back and asking for his cooperation in return,” the report said.
It cited a government policy of laying off thousands of employees to remove anyone suspected of opposition sympathies.
The report estimated that at least 1,200 people had been laid off in Hama as part of the policy, but added that “thousands” of other cases have yet to be processed, meaning the actual figure is much higher.
A number of people were also detained because of the mere similarity between their names and those of wanted individuals.
The report alleged that “laid-off employees are also deprived from their share of food supplies provided by Syria’s Red Crescent as their families’ names are crossed out following the instructions of Political Security.”
It said the layoffs have had “disastrous” consequences because a “wide section of average-income citizens have no other income except government salaries.”
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 20, 2014, on page 8.