Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Massacre in Deraa?

Update: Assad regime seems to have made the decision to end the uprising in Deraa through the use of force. As these words are being written, full-scale attack is being mounted on Al-Omari Mosque in downtown Deraa, which has become a gathering place for the protesters and a field hospital of sorts. Heavy gunfire and numerous casualties reported. Imams called from Minarets on people to take up arms and come to the rescue. Power supply is down all over the city, and thousands of people have poured into the streets. Explosions also reported.  Army is the party responsible for the attack. Protesters reportedly facing attackers shouting “Allahu Akbar,” “Death is Sweet,” and “No More Fear.” Twitterverse managed to provide immediate coverage resulting in prompt media reports and live interviews on Al-Arabiya.

The major story today was supposed to be the sit-in planned to take place in front of the Main Court House in Old Damascus, but on account of heavy security presence the event fizzled out. As a result, protest organizers on Facebook decided to refrain from announcing details of planned gatherings until they are actually taking place.

Video: one participant managed to take the following video of the Court House front:
Eyewitness account: Security people were expecting us, and made sure that even ordinary passersby didn’t linger in front of the Court House. Whenever they suspected someone of being a participant, they stayed close, uttered threats of violence if he/she lingered. Several of us tried a number of times to come together and stay, but we were too small and easily crowded out by security. From now on, we will refrain from announcing details of our gatherings. 

New arrests are reported in Banyas, Aleppo, Damascus and Suweida. Hundreds of arrests are said to have taken place in Banyas since last Friday’s protests in which thousands took place. A number of children have been arrested, roughed up then released in Aleppo for publicly discussing the events in Deraa. in Suweida, human rights defender Muntaha Al-Atrash was arrested following a brave interview she gave to Orient TV in which she announced that she had joined the revolution. Muntaha is the daughter of Sultan Pasha Al-Atrash, one of the famed leaders of the Syrian Revolution against the French. In Damascus, author Louay Al-Hussain was arrested, and his computers were confiscated.

Orient TV Background
Orient TV is a private TV channel operated from Dubai Media City, it is owned by an expatriate, Ghassan Abboud. The station broadcast news and entertainment programs and boasts the highest viewership in country. two due days ago, and due to its extensive coverage of events in Syria, the staff’s family members back in Syria are said to have come under threats from high-ranking members in the security apparatuses, consequently, many of them submitted their resignation.  The fate of the channel seems to have been sealed. But Mr. Aboud, and few staffers decided to continue their broadcast and their coverage of the Syrian Revolution. Meanwhile, Al-Jazeerah continues to treat the matter nonchalantly. Syria has always been a redline.   

Earlier in the day, security fired at protesters in Deraa, to disperse a gathering in which people chanted anti-Iran and anti-Hezbollah slogans: No to Iran, No to Hezbollah. We want Muslims that fear Allah. This comes amidst growing rumors that Hezbollah members and Iranian advisors are taking part in the crackdown, even as their leaders have praised the revolution in Egypt.

At Al-Karamah Square, protesters brought tents and are planning to stay there until Friday.

(Firing on protesters)
(No Iran, No Hezbollah)