Rebecca Hawkes ©RapidTVNews | 18-07-2011

TV actress May Skaf was among 30 people arrested at a pro-democracy protest in Damascus last week, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“Syrian intellectuals organised this demonstration to call for an end to the security crackdown and the release of detainees,” said Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Observatory.

“They were gathering in the Midan in the centre of the city when the security forces arrived and arrested at least 30 of them,” he said.

Prominent film directors Nabil Maleh and Mohammed Malas, and the writer Rima Fleihan were also detained during the protest, which was held opposite the capital’s Al Hassan Mosque on 13 July.

A sit in has now been arranged by friends and family of those detained. Louma Skaf, sister of May, said the purpose of the sit-in was to “show the authorities that they cannot continue crushing peaceful demonstrations while talking about reform and national dialogue.”

The sit-in in front of the Ministry of Interior will usher in the fifth month of the uprising against the 11 year regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

The demonstrations which have been sweeping Syria have been largely prevented in central Damascus through heavy deployment of security forces, including the shabbiha militia, from the minority Alawite sect to which President Al Assad belongs.