Friday, April 29, 2011

BREAKING: Thousands Protesting

Although it cannot be confirmed yet, it is after Friday prayer now in Syria and many are stating an eruption of protests around the country. Cities with protests so far: Homs, Latakia, Idlib, Damascus suburbs, and Qamishli among others.

Follow #syria on twitter now to keep up with the live coverage.

Potential Mass Protests Today, 3 Recent Issues

The situation in Deraa is still deadly, violent, and inhumane as security forces still surround the city. The Syrian government has also sent out a 'warning' to its citizens not to participate in protests (judging by this statement, if protesters gather in the masses today, it could become deadly):

"The Syrian government on Thursday warned its citizens not to participate in unlicensed protests, saying that "the laws in force in Syria will be implemented for serving the security of the citizens and the stability of the homeland.

Helicopters hovered as security forces fanned out across the besieged city, breaking into homes and making arrests. Streets were littered with dead bodies and dwellings had no water or electricity."

A resident said people were too scared to take the wounded to hospitals since the streets were filled with security forces.

Residents have gone without electricity, milk and medicine for four days, said the witness, who asked not to be named for security reasons."

The Muslim Brotherhood has entered the scene in the Syrian Revolution. It is a great sign that the Syrians are becoming more united. However, the Brotherhood's involvement can help the Syrian government validate their claims that the protests are salafi in nature (even though they are not):

"Also Thursday, the Muslim Brotherhood entered the fray by offering support for the protesters.

"Hereby, we announce that we will be part of this national project led by the spectacular vision and the great spirit of the Syrian youth and we call upon all Syrians of all backgrounds to join in establishing a national project in which all Syrians achieve what they have dreamt of -- liberty, freedom and progress," the Islamic political group said in a statement."

Syria's ambassador is not welcomed at the Royal Wedding. Unfortunately, this doesn't really mean anything to anyone, but at least the U.K. has some morals to abide by (I'm talking to you Russia):

"The situation has even made its way into the planning for Friday's royal wedding in Britain of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

The entire Syrian diplomatic corps was invited to the event as a matter of protocol, but the British Foreign Office said Thursday that Syria's ambassador to the United Kingdom is now not welcome "in the light of this week's attacks against civilians by the Syrian security forces, which we have condemned."

Read more: CNN

Thursday, April 28, 2011

UN fails to agree on condemning Syria

Well that was useless.
Deraa and the rest of Syria, the world's leaders have failed you.
It was disgusting to watch the words coming out of the Syrian and Russian ambassadors
mouths' yesterday. Even China and India were useless.
U.S. and Europe know the truth and need to step it up before this gets bloodier.

For a summary of the meeting: msnbc article

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

UN Human Rights Council to hold special session on Syria to try to stop regime killing its people

"France’s foreign ministry says leading European nations have summoned Syrian ambassadors across the continent to condemn recent violence in the Middle Eastern country."


List of 600+ Killed in Syrian Revolution

List of the over 600 killed during the revolution: Complete List
Includes the martyrs' names, cities, and for some how they were killed and their ages.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"I Stand With the People of Syria"-Prospect Park Mayor

"Below is a personal statement from the honorable Mohamed T. Khairullah, Mayor of Prospect Park, NJ on the deteriorating conditions in Syria. Prospect Park, NJ: April 26, 2011: I , Mohamed Taher Khairullah, an American citizen who is immensely proud of his Syrian roots, wish to make the following statement:
I call upon the Syrian Government to provide its people what my grandfather, the late Sheikh Taher Khairullah, asked for in his Friday sermons from his pulpit at Al-Rawda Mosque in Aleppo over 30 years ago: that the Syrian people are granted their basic God given right to live in freedom, peace, and dignity. I also declare my unwavering support to the peace loving people of Syria and join them in their demands for their basic human rights, and to enjoy a life free from intimidation, oppression, and harassment.
I am of course cognizant that Syria has witnessed tremendous achievements in the past decade in the areas of technology, infrastructure, and trade. But the people of Syria lacked the basic freedoms to express their opinions, to be creators of new ideas, and the innovators of solutions. The people of Syria deserve more.
My family left Syria 30 years ago under oppressively similar conditions where security forces were killing people indiscriminately. While I live and serve as an elected official in the United States, and have enjoyed the fruits of the freedoms granted under the US Constitution, my heart and my mind is now with my homeland and the people of Syria during their time of hardship.
It has become very apparent in the past few weeks that the Syrian people are simply asking for one thing, “freedom.” Apparently some government agencies, despite the lifting of emergency rules, have continued to deal with the Syrian people in the only way it knows: violence and suppression.
In a civilized society, government should not be the judge and the executioner on the street. Government should be the entity with the bigger heart and mind. It should be the tolerant partner of an oppressed population that is now expressing its mind.
My message to the Syrian people:
• Continue expressing your feelings in the peaceful and respectful manner that you have demonstrated.
• All parts of the Syrian society should work together, regardless of race, religion, or ideology, to formulate clear demands.
• Demand the implementation of all new presidential decrees granting wider freedoms.
• Demand the elimination of the illegal and inhumane practices of the intelligence agencies.
My message to President Bashar Al-Asad:
• To immediately order the cessation of killing and injuring citizens engaged in protests and civil gatherings.
• To listen to the true demands of the Syrian people and dissolve the oppressive agencies which created a gap of fear and suspicion between the people and their government.
• To ensure that current and future reforms are implemented.
• To rid the country from the culture of corruption and nepotism.
• To immediately initiate a national dialogue encompassing a wide range of political activists, intellectuals and any other persons who might contribute positively to the process of consultation on the reforms and where the country is heading.
I call on all people of conscious to speak their mind and support the people of Syria and I ask the Syrian media to report in a truthful and objective manner.
I pray to God that Syria and its proud people will overcome this tumultuous stage in their history.
May God bless Syria and its people.
Mohamed T. Khairullah
Borough of Prospect Park, New Jersey
The statement above reflects my personal view point and not that of the Borough of Prospect Park, New Jersey."


Turkey Increasing Pressure on Syria

"Turkey on Tuesday increased pressure on Syria to cease its brutal crackdown on pro-reform demonstrators, a day after Syrian troops backed by tanks and snipers stormed a southern city, where the dead reportedly lay unclaimed in the streets.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan phoned Syrian President Bashar Assad to urge restraint while Turkey's ambassador to Damascus met Syrian Prime Minister Adel Safar to express Turkey's deep concern and sorrow over loss of many lives, the prime minister's office and the Turkish media reported.

Erdogan called Assad a day after he and U.S. President Barack Obama voiced their concern in a telephone conversation over what the White House called the Syrian government's unacceptable use of violence against its own people.

The Syrian army launched a deadly raid on the southern Syrian city of Daraa before dawn Monday, killing at least 11 people. Gunfire echoed in Daraa, where the uprising in Syria started more than a month ago, on Tuesday as residents said the dead still lay in the streets.

Turkey shares a long land border with Syria and fears the turmoil could trigger an influx of refugees. However, most of the 877-kilometer border is heavily mined and a mass influx of refugees is not expected.

As a NATO ally, Turkey has cultivated warm relations with countries such as Libya and Syria as part of a regional outreach that included nations with a history of enmity with the West.

Now Turkey is scrambling to preserve economic and other links to Mideast nations while urging their autocrats to meet the demands of protesters who want change."


35 Killed in Daraa; Water/Elec/Comm Cut

35 deaths have been reported from Daraa since Monday.

Summary: "At least 35 have been killed since attack in Daraa began at dawn on Monday; over 2,000 Syrian security police deployed in Damascus suburb of Duma Tuesday, manning road blocks and checking identity of residents"

"Syrian security forces have killed at least 35 civilians since they began attacking the city of Daraa at dawn on Monday to crush an uprising, Syrian rights organization Sawasiah said on Tuesday.

The organization, founded by jailed human rights lawyer Mohannad al-Hassani, said electricity, water and telecommunications remained cut in Deraa for the second day, with supplies of baby milk and blood at hospitals starting to run low.

This intensification in clashes in Daraa took place as more than 2,000 Syrian security police deployed in the Damascus suburb of Duma on Tuesday, manning road blocks and checking the identity of residents, a witness told Reuters.

The witness said he saw several dark green trucks in the streets equipped with heavy machineguns.

He said men who he believed were members of the plain clothes secret police were carrying assault rifles.

Bus loads of soldiers in full combat gear also crossed the main gate of Duma and began deploying in the suburb, he said.

European governments urged Syria on Tuesday to end violence after President Bashar al-Assad sent tanks to crush a revolt against his 11-year rule in the city of Deraa.

A European Union diplomat said on Tuesday that the EU is discussing possible sanctions against Syria's leadership over its crackdown on protesters.

These would be discussed further at a meeting of ambassadors from EU member states in Brussels on Friday, the diplomat said.

"We are exploring possibilities of further action. The next step will be taken at a meeting on Friday," the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.
Any sanctions are likely to begin with asset freezes and travel bans targeting the Syrian leadership, a separate EU source said. It could be up to two weeks before the measures formally pass into law.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said earlier that London would work with other countries to push for sanctions on Syria's leadership if the government continued to use violence to quell protests.

"Syria is now at a fork in the road .... it can choose ever more violent repression which can only ever bring short term security for the authorities there," Hague told Britain's parliament.

"If it does so, we will work with our European partners and others to take measures including sanctions that will have an impact on the regime," he added.

Syrian security forces have shot dead at least 400 civilians in their campaign to crush month-long pro-democracy protests, Syrian human rights organization Sawasiah said on Tuesday.

The United States is considering sanctions against Syrian government officials to increase pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to end the crackdown.
Britain, France, Germany and Portugal are asking the UN Security Council to condemn the Syrian crackdown in a draft statement being circulated in New York, a UN diplomat said.

Hague said obtaining a full-scale United Nations resolution condemning Syria's actions was difficult for now, although he said that may change if the crackdown continued."


WH Considering Sanctions, Urges Americans to Leave Syria

"The State Department on Monday told American citizens to leave Syria as soon as they can and ordered some personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus to depart the country, as the Syrian government steps up a brutal crackdown against pro-reform demonstrators.

In a new warning, the department urged Americans to defer all travel to Syria, advised those already in the country to depart while commercial transportation is available and to limit nonessential travel within the country. Nonessential U.S. embassy staff and the families of all embassy personnel have been ordered to leave Syria. It said the embassy would remain open for limited services.

The warning said that Syrian government restrictions, including the short-term detention of foreign diplomats, made it difficult for the embassy to assess the security situation and that attempts by authorities to blame the unrest on outsiders could contribute to anti-foreigner sentiment.

The move came as thousands of Syrian soldiers backed by tanks and snipers moved in to the southern city of Daraa and opened fire on civilians, killing at least 11 people, witnesses said. More than 350 people have been killed in the violence since mid-March.

Earlier Monday, the Obama administration said it was considering "targeted sanctions" against Syria after government forces sharply escalated their deadly campaign to crush a five-week uprising.

"The brutal violence used by the government of Syria against its people is completely deplorable," National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said. "The United States is pursuing a range of possible policy options, including targeted sanctions, to respond to the crackdown and make clear that this behavior is unacceptable."

A U.S. official said earlier that the measures under consideration include a freeze on assets and a ban on U.S. business dealings.

"The Syrian people's call for freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly, and the ability to freely choose their leaders must be heard," Vietor said.

Sanctions would mark a more assertive approach by the Obama administration, which has been criticized by human rights groups for not doing more to curb Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's efforts to crush a month-long uprising against his autocratic 11-year rule.

Obama's response so far has been limited to tough words but little action against the Syrian government, in contrast to Washington's role in a NATO-led air campaign against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces and its call for his ouster.

Washington is mindful of its limited ability to influence Damascus, which is already under a set of U.S. economic sanctions and is closely allied with U.S. foe Iran.

The Obama administration is also cautious about the potential for stoking instability on U.S. ally Israel's borders and wants to avoid further military entanglement in the Muslim world where it is involved in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Despite that, U.S. officials were looking for new pressure points with Assad as his tanks poured into Daraa where a human rights activist said at least 18 people were killed.

White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to say whether measures might be imposed against Assad himself, if Syria's oil industry might be targeted or whether there might be a broader push for U.N. sanctions."

Read full article, more on Deraa here

Monday, April 25, 2011

Some Videos to Check Out

The Syrian Revolution is just starting, the people are is a music video in support of the Revolution:

This video was made to raise awareness, spread it around to anyone that want's to know more about what's going on in Syria (it is very GRAPHIC however):

Around 500 Arrested

"Security forces have arrested some 500 pro-democracy sympathizers across Syria after the government sent in tanks to try to crush protests in the city of Deraa, the Syrian rights organization Sawasiah said on Tuesday.

The independent organization said it had received reports that at least 20 people had been killed in Deraa since tanks moved in on Monday, but communications with the southern town where the protests against President Bashar al-Assad began on March 18 had been cut making it hard to confirm the information.

"Witnesses managed to tell us that at least 20 civilians have been killed in Deraa, but we do not have their names and we cannot verify," said a Sawasiah official, adding that two civilians were confirmed dead in the Damascus suburb of Douma, which forces entered earlier in the day.

At least 500 were arrested elsewhere in Syria, it said.

Amnesty international, citing sources in Deraa, said at least 23 people were killed when tanks shelled Deraa in what it called "a brutal reaction to people's demands.""

Continue: Reuters: Some 500 arrested in Syria crackdown

URGENT: Daraa under attack since early morning

Daraa has been under heavy attack since early this morning (around 3-4am).
The government had supposedly shut down electricity/cellular/internet networks. Tanks and special forces were brought in blocking roads and opening fire at civilians.
There are also similar reports coming from Douma as well.
We fear the worst, hope for the best.

FYI: The clip says 24th but it's actually from today as people there weren't able to upload the videos, so they sent them to others out of the country to upload (where it was still late Sunday at the time).

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Thousands Protesting at Funerals

Sunday-Thousands are still protesting at funerals.
""Long live Syria. Down with Bashar!" the mourners chanted, their calls audible in a telephone call during the funeral. "Leave, leave. The people want the overthrow of the regime.""

Bashar wake up, your time is up.

Reuters Link

Update: Twitter sources claiming Hama is on lockdown and security forces are opening fire in the square. Jableh is also reported to be going under heavy fire-with deaths already. Douma, Latakia, and Nawa also reporting security forces firing at civilians.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

KoL-Radioactive (Syria 2011-Rising Version)

It's radioactive, it's in the water. Bashar, your time is up!

Security Forces Raid Homes in Damascus

Follow killings of over 100 hundred people during mass protests at funerals yesterday, sources are saying security forces are raiding homes tonight. Follow link to read hourly updates from unnamed sources: Aljazeera reports

Masses Protesting at Funerals: "Bashar al-Assad, you traitor. Long live Syria, down with Bashar"

Reuters: Syrians demand "regime overthrow" at mass funerals

"Tens of thousands of chanting Syrians demanded the "overthrow of the regime" Saturday at funerals for scores of people killed by security forces in the country's bloodiest pro-democracy protests, witnesses said.

Funerals were held in Damascus and at least one of its suburbs and in the southern village of Izra'a, where mourners also chanted "Bashar al-Assad, you traitor. Long live Syria, down with Bashar.""

Friday, April 22, 2011

White House Statement: Obama Accuses Bashar of Repression and Seeking Iranian Help

Statement by the President on Syria

"The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of force by the Syrian government against demonstrators. This outrageous use of violence to quell protests must come to an end now. We regret the loss of life and our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the victims, and with the Syrian people in this challenging time.
The Syrian Government's moves yesterday to repeal Syria’s decades-old Emergency Law and allow for peaceful demonstrations were not serious given the continued violent repression against protesters today. Over the course of two months since protests in Syria began, the United States has repeatedly encouraged President Assad and the Syrian Government to implement meaningful reforms, but they refuse to respect the rights of the Syrian people or be responsive to their aspirations. The Syrian people have called for the freedoms that all individuals around the world should enjoy: freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly, and the ability to freely choose their leaders. President Assad and the Syrian authorities have repeatedly rejected their calls and chosen the path of repression. They have placed their personal interests ahead of the interests of the Syrian people, resorting to the use of force and outrageous human rights abuses to compound the already oppressive security measures in place before these demonstrations erupted. Instead of listening to their own people, President Assad is blaming outsiders while seeking Iranian assistance in repressing Syria's citizens through the same brutal tactics that have been used by his Iranian allies. We call on President Assad to change course now, and heed the calls of his own people.
We strongly oppose the Syrian government’s treatment of its citizens and we continue to oppose its continued destabilizing behavior more generally, including support for terrorism and terrorist groups. The United States will continue to stand up for democracy and the universal rights that all human beings deserve, in Syria and around the world."

Mass Protests, Almost 100 Killed

CNN: Violence erupts across Syria; at least 27 dead in protests
Aljazeera: Deaths reported in Friday protests in Syria

"One, One, One, The Syrian People are One"

Alarabiya: At least 68 dead in Syria
"At least 68 people were killed and dozens were injured when Syrian security forces fired live bullets and teargas to disperse “Good Friday” protests in several cities, witnesses reported.

The reported deaths have created a new crisis for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, raising questions about whether he is fully in control of Syrian security forces. The deaths raise questions about how far Mr. Assad is prepared to go to stay in power, and if the international community will take steps to prevent a humanitarian disaster in this geopolitically strategic Arab country.

The deaths on Friday also bring back memories of large numbers of political opponents who were mowed down by security forces in the city of Hama when Mr. Assad’s late father, President Hafez al-Assad was in office. Mr. Assad’s brother, Rifaat al-Assad, personally conducted a “scorched earth” campaign in February 1982 against Sunni Muslims who protested against the Alawite regime of Hafez al-Assad. Estimates of those killed in Hama range from 10,000 to 40,000..."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Clinton Calls Syria Out

Reuters: Clinton says Syria must stop detention, torture

"Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday condemned violence in Syria and said the Syrian government must stop the arbitrary arrest, detention and torture of prisoners.

"We are particularly concerned about the situation in Homs where multiple reports suggest violence and casualties among both civilians and government personnel," she said at a news conference. Independent confirmation was difficult because journalists were not being allowed access, she said.

Activists in the central city of Homs say more than 20 pro-democracy protesters have been shot dead since Monday by soldiers and other forces.

"The Syrian government must allow free movement and free access, it must stop the arbitrary arrest, detentions and torture of prisoners," Clinton said.

She called on the Syrian government to cease violence and respond to "the legitimate issues that have been raised by the Syrian people seeking substantial and lasting reform."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Forces Fire in Homs, Protests Continue

Reuters: Forces deploy in Syria's Homs city, residents defiant

"Plain clothes security forces toting Ak-47s deployed in Homs overnight, a witness said on Thursday, as the central Syrian city defied a crackdown following the killing of 21 pro-democracy protesters this week.

Residents, expecting more attacks from gunmen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad known as "al-shabbiha," have organized into unarmed groups to guard neighborhoods, said the witness, who reached Homs after going through two road blocks manned by security police.

"The atmosphere is tense. Another day of strikes is planned tomorrow," the witness said.

The witness, a human rights campaigner who did not want to be further identified, was referring to shops that closed after 21 protesters were shot dead by security police and shabbiha forces on Monday and Tuesday, according to rights campaigners.

The protests, which intensified after a tribal leader died in custody following a demonstration in Homs ten days ago, have been demanding political freedoms and an end to corruption.

Homs, a strategic city 165 km (100 miles) off a main highway north of Damascus, became the latest flashpoint in Syria after demonstrations inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia erupted in southern Syria last month.

Assad has tried to appease mass discontent by ordering his cabinet to pass a law lifting 48 years of emergency rule, but opposition figures say the move, which the rubberstamp cabinet approved on Tuesday, will not halt repression.

Rights groups say more than 200 people have been killed since protests started. Washington said a new law requiring permits to hold demonstrations made it unclear if the end of emergency rule would make for a less restrictive Syrian state."

Where Does Bashar Rate in Relation to Other Dictators...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Syria lifts state of emergency, protests continue

Reuters: Syria government approves lifting state of emergency

"Syria's government passed a draft law on Tuesday to lift 48 years of emergency rule, a concession to unprecedented demands for greater freedom in the tightly-controlled Arab country.

But protests continued after the announcement, with demonstrators taking to the streets in the city of Banias and opposition leaders said they would not stop until their other demands, including the release of political prisoners, freedom of speech, and a multi-party system, were also met.

State news agency SANA said the cabinet ratified draft legislation, which must still be signed by President Bashar al-Assad, "to end the state of emergency in Syria."

Inspired by uprisings sweeping the Arab world, thousands of Syrians have demonstrated across the country demanding reforms, presenting Assad with the most serious and sustained challenge to his 11-year rule. Rights groups say more than 200 people have been killed in the unrest.

The cabinet, which has little power and rubber-stamps Assad's orders, also passed a law to abolish a special security court which human rights lawyers says violates the rule of law and the right to fair trial.

It also passed legislation to "regulate the right of peaceful protest." Permission from the Interior Ministry will be needed to demonstrate in Syria, the news agency said.

One activist dismissed the cabinet decision, saying Assad himself could have lifted emergency law immediately. "The government doesn't need to issue anything ... It's in the hands of the president to lift it," Ammar Qurabi said."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sit-in Protest Going on Now in Homs!

See the rest.... (follow @MalathAumran on Twitter)

8 Protesters Killed Overnight in Homs

Reuters: Syrian forces kill 8 protesters in Homs

"Syrian forces killed 8 protesters overnight in the central city of Homs in confrontations after the death of a tribal leader in custody, a rights campaigner in Homs said on Monday.

"Homs is boiling. Security forces and the regime thugs have been provoking armed tribes for a month now. But civilians in large numbers also took to the streets in different areas of Homs last night and they were shot at in cold blood," the rights campaigner told Reuters."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Nightime Protests

Tweets reporting massacres (Homs, Latakia...)

Check out #syria on twitter.
Nothing can be confirmed yet, but the alleged reports are horrifying.

Death Toll Rising, 3 Shot at a Funeral

Reuters: Assad pledge fails to quell Syria anger; troops fire

"Syrian security forces opened fire on protesters at a funeral on Sunday, witnesses said, and an announcement that President Bashar al-Assad would lift 48-years of emergency rule failed to quell fury on the streets.

Two witnesses said security forces killed three mourners when they opened fire on a funeral for a man killed the day before, which turned into a demonstration on a highway outside the town of Talbiseh, north of the central city of Homs.

One resident said he counted five tanks and saw soldiers wearing combat gear deployed around the town.

Chants at protests on Sunday, Syria's Independence Day holiday, more hostile toward Assad than at previous marches held in recent weeks, a sign that a promise to lift the country's hated emergency law had failed to appease the public.

Opposition figures say they believe new laws that will replace the emergency rule are likely to retain severe curbs on political freedoms.

Thousands of demonstrators called for Bashar's overthrow at another funeral, held in Hirak town northeast of the southern city of Deraaa, for soldier Mohammad Ali Radwan al-Qoman, whose relatives believe he was tortured by the security forces.

"Freedom, freedom Syria, Bashar get out," people chanted, their slogans audible in a telephone call with one of the mourners at the funeral."

Friday, April 15, 2011

AlJazeera: "Inside Story: Assad's grip on Syria"

"Stability in Syria has become a cause for concern for local authorities, as anti-government protests spread to the country's second largest city Aleppo.

Meanwhile in the capital itself, several hundred students protested for a second day, against the government at Damascus University.

Inside Story, with presenter Ghida Fakhry, discusses with guests: Iyas Maleh from the Haitham Maleh Foundation for the defense of human rights defenders in Syria; Ousama Monajed, a Syrian political activist; and George Jabbour, a former member of the Syrian Parliament.

This episode of Inside Story aired from Thursday, April 14, 2011."

Malik al Abdeh about the latest in Syria: Mass Protests!

Security Forces Open Fire, Latakia Protesters Flee


Syria's Most Wanted Cyber Activist

"God, Syria, Freedom"

Reuters: Syria protests sweep into capital, defying Assad

"Protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad swept into the capital, Damascus, on Friday for the first time since a growing wave of pro-democracy unrest began to put pressure on his 11-year rule.

Thousands of protesters marched elsewhere across the country despite a fierce crackdown and some political concessions announced by Assad in an attempt to quell spreading unrest.

Shouting "God, Syria, Freedom," protesters repeated the same demand for democratic reform and freedoms across many cities.

In Damascus, security forces used batons and tear gas to prevent thousands of protesters marching from several suburbs from reaching the main Abbasside Square.

"I counted 15 mukhabarat (secret police) busloads," one eyewitness said. "They went into the alleyways just north of the square chasing protesters and yelling 'you pimps, you infiltrators, you want freedom? we will give it to you'.""

Forces Fire Tear Gas

msnbc: Syrian forces fire tear gas near Damascus square

" Syrian security forces used batons and tear gas on Friday to prevent thousands of protesters marching from several suburbs of Damascus from reaching the capital's main Abbasside Square.

"I counted 15 mukhabarat (secret police) busloads. They went into the alleyways just north of the square chasing protesters and yelling 'you pimps, you infiltrators, you want freedom? we will give it to you'," one of the witnesses said.

Another witness who accompanied the protesters from the suburb of Harasta said thousands chanted "the people want the overthrow of the regime" and tore down numerous posters of President Bashar al-Assad plastered along the way."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thoughts on Tomorrow...

Reuters: Assad seeks to curb prayer protests

"Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's efforts to contain an unprecedented wave of protests face a key test on Friday, after he unveiled a new cabinet and ordered detainees released in a bid to ease tensions.

Assad's measures were unlikely to satisfy many protesters demanding political freedoms and an end to corruption. The cabinet has little power and the release of detainees excluded those who committed crimes "against the nation and citizens."

Syria has thousands of political prisoners, whose numbers swelled after protests against Assad's authoritarian rule broke out in the southern city of Deraa exactly four weeks ago after the main Friday prayers.

Prayers, funerals and weddings are the main chances Syrians have to gather legally -- and every Friday since has seen large demonstrations, bloodshed, and mass arrests.

The official news agency said the releases cover detainees arrested in the recent wave of protests, but human rights defenders said there had been more arrests in the city of Deraa on Thursday.

A Syrian rights group said this week that more than 200 people had been killed during the protests. They have posed the biggest challenge to Assad since he assumed power in 2000 upon the death of his father Hafez, who ruled the country for 30 years.

There are sectarian overtones to the tensions arising from the protests.

Rights campaigners said Alawite irregulars, loyal to Assad and known as "al-shabbiha," killed four people in the seaside city of Banias and were used to quell protests in other areas.

Syria is a mostly Sunni Muslim nation ruled by minority Alawites, adherents to an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam."

Protest in Syria's Druze Heartland

Reuters: Protest erupts in Syria's Druze Heartland--witness

"Around 300 people marched on Thursday chanting "freedom, freedom" in the city of Sweida in Syria's Druze heartland, a witness said.

Security police and irregular loyalists of President Bashar al-Assad used sticks to disperse the protesters, the witness told Reuters.

The protest was the first reported in the Druze region of Syria since unprecedented demonstrations against Assad's authoritarian rule started in the city of Deraa almost one month ago and spread elsewhere."

Follow link above to read the whole article.

"Syria: Senator Lieberman speaks from United States Senate about Assad regime violence"

Watch: Sen. Lieberman speak from US senate about Assad regime violence:

"Human rights activist says document lays out how to brutally suppress the opposition..."

Unreal. A Syrian Plan to Attack Protesters?

"A document purportedly drafted by senior Syrian intelligence officials details a chilling plan to infiltrate the ranks of anti-regime protesters, arrest and assassinate their leaders, and link anti-regime demonstrations to the work of “Zionist” and other outside agitators."

SHRC-Syrian Human Rights Committee

Please check out this website SHRC has been working for years to spread awareness about the HR conditions in Syria, filing appeals, as well as listing updates of released detainees, and much more.

About SHRC:

"The Syrian Human Rights Committee (SHRC) is an independent and neutral human rights organisation concerned fundamentally with defending general liberties and human rights of the Syrian people through several practices, which includes:

  1. Exposing the violations, assaults and aggressions against human rights and fundamental liberties of the Syrian citizens and publishing such incidents to the international media, addressing authorities, and following-up on such reported incidents with all concerned entities.
  2. Conducting researches and publishing books and studies related to fundamental liberties and human rights in Syria utilizing scientific research methodologies and investigative verification.
  3. Issuing various reports, initiating humane campaigns and conducting seminars and interviews to highlight and bring to attention the human right issues in Syria.
  4. Raising awareness and promoting the culture of human rights in the Syrian society and encouraging members of this society to continually demand for their human rights and general liberties until the materialisation of changes, which would guarantee them those rights through peaceful means.
  5. SHRC adheres to the principle of cooperation with organisations, entities, centers, and non-governmental associations specializing in actively defending and advocating human rights, while preserving the independent nature of the committee’s work agenda."

"No Kurd, no Arab, the Syrian people are one"

Last week protests began in the Kurdish regions of eastern Syria after Bashar offered nationality to some Kurds. Syrian Protests Erupt in Syrian Kurdish Region-Reuters

'The grant of citizenship on Thursday to an unspecified number of Kurds is seen as part of a government attempt to cool resentment over nearly five decades of Baath Party rule and deflect pro-democracy protests.

"The citizenship gesture only helped fuel the street (protests). The Kurdish cause is one for democracy, freedom and cultural identity," Hassan Kamel, a senior member of the Democratic Kurdish Party in Syria, told Reuters.'

The Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria and make up 10% of the population. The Syrian government has used differing techniques to repress the Kurds for years and still continues to do so today. Please follow the links to read more about the ongoing Kurdish repression in Syria.
A Wasted Decade: Repression of Kurds
Torture and Oppression of Kurds in Syria


...unfortunately the security forces do as well

"Syria’s growing protest movement broadened on Wednesday as Aleppo, one of Syria’s largest cities, had its first demonstrations against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, and a group of women from the coastal village of Bayda, where hundreds were detained this week, marched to demand the release of their husbands and sons.
At least 200 students protested at the University of Aleppo, witnesses and human rights advocates said, until security forces broke up the demonstration, hauling away dozens of students."

NY Times: New Grievances Broaden Syria's Protest Movement
AlJazeera: Syrian Protests Spread to Aleppo

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Google Map of Protests

Syrian Protests Google Maps

Really good idea...all recorded protests have been placed on the map, some linked from Twitter, Youtube, etc.

Today: Women March, Demanding to Free Their Men

"Hundreds of women from a Syrian town that has witnessed mass arrests of its men marched along Syria's main coastal highway on Wednesday to demand their release, human rights activists said."
Amazing, read the rest of the article here.
Watch a clip from youtube here.

Edit: Some sources are saying 100 men have been released there. Progress!

Timeline and Info About 2011 Protests

Here is some background information and a time line of the protests from The NY Times.

Where the Fear Started and Never Ended

The Hama Massacre been described as among "the single deadliest acts by any Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East". Estimated death toll was around 40,000 (civilians).

Wikipedia may not be the best source, but it gives a pretty unbiased and accurate summary: Hama Massacre

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Daily Beast: "What's Happening in Syria? 6 Key Questions"

"What set off the unrest, what do protesters want—and what about Iran? David A. Graham answers six pressing questions..."

Like Father Like Son

Follow the link to read about the last ten years (Bashar's reign) and the Human Rights violations that continue to occur including: Repression of political and human rights activism, restrictions on freedom of expression, torture, ill-treatment, and enforced disappearances, repression of Kurds, and legacy of enforced disappearances...

"A Wasted Decade"

"After Bashar al-Asad succeeded his father as president in July 2000, many people in Syria hoped that the human rights situation would improve. In his first inaugural speech on July 17, al-Asad spoke of the need for “creative thinking,” “the desperate need for constructive criticism,” “transparency,” and “democracy.”[1] A human rights lawyer summed up his initial feelings on the succession, reflecting the mood and aspirations of many others in the country: “Bashar’s inaugural speech provided a space for hope following the totalitarian years of President [Hafez] Asad. It was as if a nightmare was removed.”[2]

Ten years later, these initial hopes remain unfulfilled, and al-Asad’s words have not translated into any kind of government action to promote criticism, transparency, or democracy. This report reviews Syria’s human rights situation in five key areas and proposes concrete recommendations to the Syrian President that are essential to improving Syria’s human rights record."