Sign a Petition, Go to Jail

When I suggested that HP readers might like to sign a petition calling for the release of the BBC’s Gaza correspondent, Alan Johnston, not everybody was convinced it was worth the bother. One commentator argued:

Signers of petitions are not in a position to ‘demand’ anything, except to be admired for their costless, selective show of concern.

That might be true in democratic, free, Britain.

Signing petitions is not, however, “costless” in Syria:

A Syrian court has sentenced two democracy activists, Michel Kilo and Mahmoud Issa, to three years in prison.

The pair were convicted of spreading false information, encouraging sectarian strife and weakening national sentiment, a Syrian rights group said.

The men were arrested last year after signing a petition that called on Syria to improve its relations with Lebanon.

(Hat tip: Jonz)