Activists in Syria canceled the first government-approved demonstration in the capital since a 48-year-old state of emergency was lifted last month, an official said today. The silent candlelight vigil in a Damascus public garden was to have honored some 900 people who have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar Assad's rule began in mid-March. All demonstrations had been banned in Syria under state of emergency laws that were abolished last month; now organizers must get official permission. But human rights activists have scoffed at the rule, saying they would be targeted if they tried to organize an anti-government demonstration.
Today’s vigil was canceled on the request of its organizers, according to an unnamed Syrian official. Further details were not immediately released. The European Union imposed sanctions today on Assad because of his government's continuing crackdown. The 27-nation bloc instituted an assets freeze and a visa ban on Assad and nine other members of his regime. Click to read more about secret Syrian jails where hundreds, and possibly thousands, of political detainees are being held. (Read more Syria stories.)