Two months ago, when prominent Syrian human rights lawyer Anwar al-Bunni finally stepped onto the streets of Damascus after completing a five year jail sentence, he walked out into a changed world.
On a personal level, the nightmare of his prison existence- a prisoner of conscience surrounded by convicted criminals and living in fear of attack by both inmates and guards - was finally over. But, more broadly, the popular protests that had erupted two months earlier meant that Syria itself had been transformed. He and other human rights defenders no longer felt alone.
“In the past, only a few of us dared to call for freedom and human rights.” he told Amnesty International. “We used to feel isolated, as the majority of people avoided us out of fear of retribution from the authorities. After my release, I have realised that my demands became the demands of all the Syrian people.”