"Many in Congress are getting impatient with what they see as a lack of concrete action by the Obama administration to condemn and punish the Syrian government for its brutal crackdown on civilian protesters. Today, 16 senators are co-sponsoring a resolution calling on the administration to get tough on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) spearheaded the resolution (PDF) with Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and John McCain (R-AZ). The foursome held a press conference on Wednesday afternoon at the Capitol to announce their new effort and demand that the Obama administration expand its activities to sanction, condemn, and pressure the Syrian government to stop killing civilians in the streets.
"I know that there are some who had hoped when these protests first broke out that Bashar al- Assad would pursue the path of reform rather than the path of violence and brutality. But that has clearly not been his choice. He is not a reformer. He is a thug and a murderer who is pursuing the Qaddafi model, and hopes to get away with it," said Lieberman.
"First and foremost, [the resolution] sends a clear message that Bashar al Assad -- through his campaign of violence -- has lost legitimacy, and puts the Senate squarely on record as standing with the aspirations of the Syrian people," Lieberman added.
The resolution condemns the Syrian government for its crackdown on peaceful protesters, violating international human rights agreements, withholding food, water, and basic medical services to civilians, and torturing protesters in government custody. The resolution also mentions Iran's assistance to Syria's repressive government and Syrian meddling in Lebanon, which has included transferring weapons to Hezbollah.
The senators want the administration to expand the targeted sanctions it imposed last month on senior Syrian government officials, sanction Assad directly, expand the effort to combat media and information censorship in Syria, engage more with the Syrian opposition, and seek condemnation of Syria at the U.N. Security Council. The senators also want President Barack Obama to speak publicly about the crisis there.
"It's time to indict the guy who is giving the orders," said McCain. "And it's time for the President of the United States to speak up."
Two senior Senate aides said they expect the resolution to move to the Senate floor and be passed relatively soon.
Importantly, the Senate resolution declares that the Syrian government "has lost legitimacy" and expresses the belief that the Syrian people should determine their own political future. The State Department has resisted making that statement, knowing that once the administration declares Assad is no longer "legitimate," all efforts to work with the Syrian government to encourage better behavior will become more difficult.
Pressed repeatedly on that very question at Tuesday's briefing, State Department spokesman Mark Toner refused to say the Syrian government was no longer legitimate.
"We believe that he needs to take concrete steps to cease violence against innocent protesters and civilians, and he needs to address their legitimate aspirations," he said.
But Syria's main advocate in the Senate, SFRC Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), told The Cable on Tuesday that Assad's chance to be a reformer had passed.
"I said we have to put him to the test. I've always said it's a series of tests," Kerry said. "The chance was lost and that's the end of it."
UPDATE: Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) is now also a co-sponsor of the resolution, bringing the total number of co-sponsors to 17." Link
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
"16 senators are co-sponsoring a resolution calling on the administration to get tough on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad"
Friday, May 6, 2011
Some live information:
Today has been called: "Day of Defiance"
It's been reported that over 30,000 have taken to the streets in Hama.
Also seems the first time all major cities come out on a Friday all together.
In some areas, people are claiming that the army is protecting civilians.
Keep up with more live info here: Breaking News: Syria And on Twitter: #syria
Thursday, May 5, 2011
"Syria said on Thursday army units have begun to leave Deraa, the heart of an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, but residents described a city still under siege.
Soldiers also raided homes across the country as President Bashar al-Assad grappled with the most serious challenge of his 11-year authoritarian rule.
Assad had ordered the army to enter Deraa, where demonstrations calling for more freedoms and later for his overthrow started in March, 10 days ago.
Activists and residents said soldiers backed by tanks had shelled and machine-gunned the city's old quarter and rounded people up in mass arrests.
State news agency SANA quoted an official military source as saying the army had completed its mission, arresting elements of "terrorist" groups and restoring security, peace and stability.
Two witnesses who were heading out of the city told Reuters that around 30 tanks on armored carriers had left the city heading north. They said Syrian army units backed with armor remained deployed at several entrances to the city.
Deraa residents who live in Deraa's Mahatta area said at least six tanks were deployed near government installations and public squares and snipers were poised atop building near Tishrin Square.
They also said security forces had allowed people to move freely until 2 p.m. (7 a.m. EDT) when a curfew was imposed.
"There are security barriers every 100 meters. The security forces have not left yet. They are still spread everywhere in the Balad," said one resident who called himself Abu Jasem.
Pictures of the 45-year-old president have reappeared on business and shop windows, resident said. Infuriated by the crackdown, enraged protesters in Deraa had hauled down a statue of Assad's father, Hafez, on March 24.
Rights groups say at least 560 civilians have been killed since the protests erupted in Deraa on March 18, before spreading to other centers. Officials, who blame armed groups for the violence, give a much lower death toll and say half those killed have been security forces.
Elsewhere, residents said soldiers had made arrests in the Damascus suburb of Saqba and tightened sieges on two defiant urban centers before the Muslim day of prayer on Friday.
The noon prayer is the only time Syrians are permitted to gather legally, and hence the day of the biggest demonstrations and often bloodiest confrontations.
A female resident, who did not want to be identified, told Reuters that hundreds of soldiers in combat gear had broken into houses and made arrests overnight in Saqba, where thousands had demanded Assad's overthrow last week.
"They cut off communications before they came in. There is no resistance. The demonstrations in Saqba have been peaceful. Scores of people have been arrested," she said.
Wissam Tarif, executive director of the Insan human rights group, said at least 260 people had been detained in Saqba. He earlier told Reuters more than 800 people had been rounded up in Deraa since the army moved in.
In a sign that Assad was further widening the use of the military to crush demonstrations, tanks and armored vehicles deployed around the town of Rastan, and army units set up checkpoints in Sunni districts in Banias.
Armed troops also deployed in the Damascus suburb of Erbin and in the town of Tel, north of the capital, where security forces arrested at least 80 men, women and children, the human rights organization Sawasiah said.
A student activist said security forces dispersed a demonstration at the University of Aleppo on Thursday.
Before the army division led by Assad's brother Maher stormed Deraa, Assad had relied mainly on other security forces and secret police to confront the demonstrations.
"Assad's decision to use the army is pretty much the utmost escalation of force he can muster and a clear signal that he has no interest in any reconciliation," said an Arab government official monitoring the situation in Syria." - Reuters
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
|"It is ink that should flow, not blood"|
"French activists have thrown blue paint onto the walls of the Syrian embassy in Paris as part of a protest against the detention of journalists in the Middle Eastern country.
Around 30 demonstrators from Reporters Without Borders (RSF) gathered outside the building in the French capital on Tuesday to mark UNESCO World Press Freedom Day by calling for an end to the crackdown on the media.
They held banners reading "It is ink that should flow, not blood", and also painted the words on the wall of the building. According to RSF, the demonstrators were later arrested by police.
"Syria is the country that worries us most at the moment," Jean-Francois Julliard, the group's secretary-general, said.
"No one knows what is going on there. How many of the demonstrators have been killed? How many have been wounded? No one knows because journalists are being prevented from working. Foreign reporters cannot get visas to go there and local journalists are all being jailed or forced to remain silent."
Reporters Without Borders has expressed concern about journalists being held in Syria, including Fayez Sara, a Syrian journalist and writer who was arrested on 11 April; Mohamed Zaid Mistou, a Norwegian journalist arrested on 7 April; and Kamal Sheikhou, a Syrian blogger who was arrested in March.
The organisation has identified 38 nations that "prey on the media", including Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain, where uprisings against governments are taking place.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has also marked Tuesday by calling for freedom of expression to be protected worldwide.
Irina Bokova, the director-general, said she was concerned about reports of journalists covering anti-government protests in countries such as Syria going missing or being subjected to threats and physical violence.
"Silencing the media or attempting to intimidate them is an unacceptable assault on the right of citizens to be informed," she said.
"I call on all countries in the world to respect the right to free expression, as laid down in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the right to freedom of information."
Al Jazeera has marked World Press Freedom Day by highlighting many of the challenges faced by its journalists and by colleagues from other media institutions.
The network has been under a great deal of pressure during the revolutions occurring in the Arab world
Ali Hassan Al Jaber, an Al Jazeera cameraman, was killed in an ambush that targeted the network’s crew in the Al-Hawwari district, south of Benghazi on March 13. Another Al Jazeera journalist who was with Ali, Nasser Al-Haddar, was wounded and hospitalized in the attack.
A total of nine Al Jazeera journalists were arrested while reporting in Egypt between January and February.
One of its journalists, Kamel Al-Tallou, is currently being held in Libya while another, Dorothy Parvaz, has been missing in Syria since Friday afternoon." Link: AlJazeera
Hey, you know what's more evil than killing your civilians; letting them die a slow and painful death from unattended injuries and/or starvation.
The Red Cross is trying to get into the war zone that is Deraa and urging Syria to lift restrictions into the city:
"The International Committee of the Red Cross has urged Syria to lift restrictions on access to casualties in the besieged city of Deraa, as European Union nations press for sanctions against Bashar al-Assad and leading figures in his regime.Continue reading: AlJazeera
Deraa has been the epicentre of anti-government unrest with protesters demanding an end to Assad's presidency and the Baath Party's near-50-year rule. Soldiers and tanks have been deployed there and in other cities in a security crackdown which activists say has claimed hundreds of lives.
"The violence has resulted in a large number of casualties and we fear that if the situation worsens, more lives will be lost," Marianne Gasser, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Damascus, said on Tuesday.
"It is urgent that emergency medical services, first aid workers and others performing life saving tasks swiftly reach those in need," she added in a statement.
ICRC spokesman Hisham Hassan said the doctors and staff from the agency Syrian Red Crescent and other medical workers needed "immediate access to the injured".
"So far we have had restricted access to certain areas, however today we need to have more larger access especially in the south, and here I talk about Deraa," he told journalists.
"We are in touch with Syrian authorities on a daily basis but so far what we have been able to get is access probably tomorrow or the day after to certain hospitals in rural Damascus, but so far no news about Deraa in the south."
Activists say food, water and medical supplies are in short supply in the city, where electricity and communications have been cut since April 26, and have called on Syrians to protest every day at noon in solidarity with the city.
Syria's government accuses "armed groups and terrorists" of attempting to stir unrest.
Syrian security forces swept into the coastal city of Baniyas on Tuesday, a protest leader told the Reuters news agency.
"They moved into the main market area. The army has sealed the northern entrance and security forces [sealed] the south," said Anas al-Shughri. "They armed Alawite villages in the hills overlooking Baniyas and we are now facing militias from the east."
Sunday, May 1, 2011
April showers bring May flowers?
We only hope the bloody showers of March and April will eventually end with the sweet scent of liberty. Unfortunately, recent events still showcase how violent the situation in Syria is.
MORE DEATH, DERAA STILL A WAR ZONE
Since this Friday, it seems around 50-100 more lives have been taken. UN puts total deaths around 450, but others report around 700 now as well as over 2,000 wounded and thousands detained.
Deraa is still like a war zone. Still surrounded, power/communication/water still disrupted. Tanks still surround the city and men are still being detained. Women and children have taken to the rooftops chanting 'God is Greater.' Reuters
In Salhyia, a district of Damascus, 11 women have been arrested by security forces. These brave women were marching in a silent all women protest in support of the residents of Deraa.
"About 50 women managed to briefly raise signs that said "Break the Deraa siege" and "No to the killings" before they were confronted by security forces." Reuters
FLEEING TO TURKEY
Over 200 have fled to the Turkish border in an attempt to escape the ongoing violent situation.
"About 250 people raced across the Syrian border into Turkey, government officials said Saturday, a flight that reflects the fear and violence gripping the Arab nation.
The people hustled to the southern Turkish Yaylidagi district in Hatay province on Friday afternoon, according to local and federal government officials.
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal said the government is trying to determine more about the people and how and why they chose to leave Syria."CNN
SUPPORT ACROSS THE U.S. and WORLD
There has been ongoing support across the globe.
Syrians in Moscow take part in a rally holding pictures of victims:
Friday, April 29, 2011
Follow #syria on twitter now to keep up with the live coverage.