Sunday, April 24, 2011

Backlash to Bloodshed!

Crackdown paves way for more consolidation of the protest movement.

Official death toll for Friday, April 22 is 112: Homs & Suburbs (27), Damascus & Suburbs (47), Deraa & Suburbs (32), Hama City (5), Lattakia (1). Today 12 more were killed, 5 in Deraa’s Izraa, rest in Damascus & Suburbs. Moreover, two new members in the People’s Assembly representing Deraa have resigned, so did the Mufti of Deraa. Details can be found here and here.

BEIRUT, Lebanon — On the bloodiest day of Syria’s uprising, Rami Nakhle’s fingers drifted over the keyboard in a room silent but for the news bulletins of Al Jazeera, yet filled with the commotion on his computer screen.

Assad security forces killed eight more people today, perhaps by way of underscoring the “official” and “intentional” character of the Good Friday Massacres that left 112 civilians dead. While international reactions remain subdued and have been restricted to mere condemnations of the escalating violence on part of the Assads with no mention of any potential international repercussions or consequences, and as the Arab World watches on silently, the protesters continue to get more organized.

Yesterday, and before the Assads unleashed their fury on the unarmed protesters a statement was released signed by the various local committees running the protests movements all over the country. While the authenticity of the statement requires further verification to see that it has indeed been approved by all provincial committees, the detailed list of demands included comes as an accurate reflection of the online conversations we’ve been having with in-country activists for the past three weeks.

But most activists would now push for the inclusion of a clear call for the immediate resignation of Bashar Al-Assad. The next logical step will be to announce the formation of a committee outside the country that can officially speak for the revolution. It is also important to see future protests raising banners and slogans endorsing the demands made by the committees.

Meanwhile, the challenge for Syrian security today was to manage the funerals in a manner that will prevent holding mass funerals. In this, they relied on the usual tactics of hiding corpses and laying siege to known hotspots and flashpoints. While, the strategy seemed to work by minimizing the number of protesters in the streets, the flipside, especially with more protesters getting killed today, is that there will be funerals for everyday of the weeks now paving the way to next Friday.

In Deraa City, security forces looted electronic and jewelry stores, behaving very much like an occupation force, thus cementing the way they are being viewed by the local residents. Tyrants as occupiers is an old theme, but one that is playing out all too visibly throughout the streets of Syria today, which is why some protesters have chosen to hoist the Independence Flag.

Jableh: protesters hoisting the Independence Flag in their April 23rd, demonstration
Darayyah: A father’s testimony as to how son was killed and his other sons taken hostage (English subtitles)
Darayyah: Known opposition figure Riad Seif addresses funeral of Shaar: “we pledge ourselves to walk in the path of this martyr and to defy fear”
Damascus / Saqba: major funeral
Damascus / Zabadani: nighttime vigil, “the people want to topple the regime”
Damascus Barzeh: women joining protests
Damascus / Barzeh: Peaceful Syrian Protesters Shot Dead By Police Snipers

Damascus / Barzeh: the martyr Ahmad Khaleel Andourah died as he took part in a funeral

Damascus / Barazeh: funeral

Damascus / Barzeh: “the people want to topple the regime”

Damascus / Barzeh: funeral under fire
Damascus / Douma: “the people want to topple the regime”
Damascus / Douma: burning a poster of Assad during a funeral
Damascus / Zamalka: a general strike is observed in protest, mourning and defiance
Damascus / Harasta: Funerals, April 23, 2011
Damascus / Darayyah: funerals
Damascus / Zablatani: a sniper on tower at the moment when shootings started
Damascus / Jobar: people burying their dead, too tired and shell-shocked to repeat slogans

Damascus / Hajar Al-Aswad: three martyrs

Damascus / Douma: “the people want to topple the regime”
Damascus / Darayyah: funeral for Al-Shaar “he who kills his own people is a traitor”
Damascus / Mouaddamiyyeh: Martyrs

Deraa /Izraa: funerals: “the people want to topple the regime”

Deraa / Izraa / April 22: the massacre
Deraa / Izraa: proof of the use of hollow point bullets

Deraa / Izraa: army officers shoot at inhabitants of Nawa as they try to enter the city of Izraa, despite the fact the protesters were telling them “you are our brothers”

Deraa / Izraa: burying the dead
Deraa: Child Martyr
Deraa / Izraa
Homs: the comparison between today and 1980s is so palpable for some people that their anger is aimed at the man who started it allto hell with you Hafiz Al-Assad”
Homs / Bab Al-Sibaa: funeral
 Hama: Defacing Assad Posters
Deir Ezzo: demolishing a statue of Bassil Al-Assad on April 22
Lattakia: army firing at protesters

 Statement of the Syrian local coordinating committees
(Translation provided by the same sources that provided the statement)

As the Syrian demonstrations for freedom grow and expand into greater numbers and into new areas, it is becoming necessary to unequivocally state the demands behind this revolution in order not to create any confusion or to have our demands circumvented or misstated on our behalf. 

The freedom and dignity of our citizenship can only be accessed through this, our path of peaceful demonstration in Syria. We seek the rapid reformulation of our national institutions.  We demand a clearly-defined basis on which to recognize the depth and breadth of this Syrian national crisis that we are experiencing daily.  We must be met with courage.  We must stop all attempts by the Syrian tyrannical machine to thwart and circumvent the acquisition of our basic rights and needs. This government is based on lies, and it is in direct violation of the sanctity and safety of all Syrian nationals. They are gambling with our national unity by playing sectarian, ethnic, and religious divisions against each other. 

Therefore, we demand of our government that they: 

Stop the use of torture, stop the killings, stop the arrests and the violence against peaceful demonstrators. 

We demand that the media hold accountable those responsible for the aforementioned. 

We demand that the Syrian state bear the responsibility for what has happened, and we demand that they make a formal apology and announce three days of national mourning in the name of the victims (civilian and military). 

We demand that the state form an independent commission (with civilian participation and oversight) to uncover the circumstances of all of the tragic events. 

We demand that these events be revealed. The conclusions of the aforementioned independent investigation need to be made public that we might hold accountable those responsible for these crimes, and so that we might bring the perpetrators to justice, all while ensuring a fair trial for all involved. 

The solution of replacing our current security devices in accordance with the law is clear.  

We demand the immediate release of all political prisoners, as well as the release of all detainees held by our national security agencies, including those sentenced by special interim courts after having been arrested by our security forces. 

We demand the completion of the constitutional amendments that will allow for a democratic transition of Syria to become a respected, multi-national, multi-ethnic, and religiously tolerant society. This includes the repeal of Constitutional Article 8, which would limit the number of presidential terms to two sessions.  This must be subject to analysis, renewal, or amendment by the Syrian people.  

We demand that our election laws of the People's Assembly and the municipal councils ensure that all Syrian voices are heard.

We demand the completion of all amendments, and all legal and constitutional proposals to ensure the absolute independence of our judiciary. 

We demand regular elections of local councils, and that they occur in a timely manner, in accordance with the aforementioned constitutional reforms. 

We demand constitutional recognition of our Syrian national diversity to ensure our cultural and national rights, and to prevent all further forms of discrimination based on race or religion. 

We demand the return of those who have been forcibly displaced. Ensure their rights, their legals statuses, and that they and their families are adequately compensated for their respective losses and inconveniences. 

We ask for the establishment in Syria, during this transitional period, of a national body to redress grievances and to reconcile in accordance with our long-held standards of justice in order that we neutralize and remove all hotbeds of tension. This will help us turn this page forever. 

We demand the passing of a new media law that guarantees the freedom of press in accordance with widely-held international standards and constitutions.  Ensure the right to access information.  

Remove governmental control and censorship of the media, especially in terms of licensing, withdrawal, production, and transfer of information. 

Our demand for these freedoms demonstrates that we will continue to demonstrate, whatever the sacrifices.  It demonstrates our compassion for the martyrs.  And it demonstrates our need for victory that we might finally have a free, democratic Syria. 

These are our demands, this is our freedom for which we will fight for no matter the consequences and the sacrifices. Compassion to our martyrs and victory of our revolution for a free, democratic Syria.

The Committees of Dara, Homs, Banias, Saraqeb, Idleb, Hasaka, Qamishli, Der Ezzor, Syrian Coast, Hama, Raqqa, Swayda’, Damascus suburbs, Damascus