Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bloodshed & Watershed!

Will the tragic bloodshed that took place in Syria on Good Friday usher in a watershed moment in the international community’s handling of the situation? This is what many Syrians hope for in order to prevent further escalation of violence on parts of the authorities.

The U.S. called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stop the use of violence after government forces attacked protesters with live ammunition. Judy Woodruff discusses protesters' demands and the government's crackdowns with the International Crisis Group's Robert Malley and democracy activist and blogger Ammar Abdulhamid.

For more on the demonstrations happening in Syria Friday, Robert Siegel speaks with Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian democracy activist based in the United States. Abdulhamid is an informal spokesman for the protesters in Syria. He talks about the possible outcomes of the demonstrations.

With death toll of over 100 in the span of few hours, this was by far the bloodiest day in the Syrian Revolution, so far. The story gets more tragic when we take under consideration that we are not talking about a violent conflict here in which both sides are heavily armed, but one that pits unarmed civilians chanting for freedom against thugs armed with electric batons and Kalashnikovs and snipers with orders to shoot to kill. As the world watched, Good Friday in Syria turned into an open season on protesters dreaming of freedom. But if the Assads were hoping that this will serve to intimidate the protesters or help contain their movement, they don’t have long to wait before they learn how wrong they are. For the thirst for freedom is no less irrational than that for blood.

While protests broke out in almost every major city, town and suburb in Syria, violence, for the most part, was restricted to certain Damascene suburbs and neighborhoods as well as Deraa and Homs. But while in Deraa the intention seems to have been to punish the people who started it all, in Homs and Damascus, the thinking was to prevent, by any means necessary, an attempt at marching towards and occupying the main squares.

Still, today, and for the first time since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution, Damascus itself witnessed major protests (3,000-4,000 participants) that took place in some of its more traditional neighborhoods, Al-Midan and Al-Qadam (Eyewitness from Damascus), in a development that might have wider repercussions over the next few days.

The main demand of protesters everywhere has become regime change. It will be foolish to believe that after today’s bloodbath, protesters would settle for any scenario that will keep Bashar in power. Whether he is losing control of his security apparatuses, as some still claim, or not, ultimately, he is the one responsible, and he is deeply and widely believed by the protesters on the basis of his performance during this crisis to be part of the problem, if not its very embodiment.

Three items in particular deserve to be highlighted today: 1) the use of tanks to besiege the suburbs of Mouaddamiyyah and Darayyah near Damascus, 2) the prevalence of elderly security officers in the streets, which denote that the Assads are relying heavily on the reserves, perhaps as a reflection of their inability to trust all available army units in this crackdown, and 3) the use of explosive bullets to kill as evident in the type of wounds made.

Damascus / Midan: “where are you protector of the order, come and see the sons of Damascus… zenga zenga dar dar (alley after alley, house after house), we cannot find anyone dumber than Bashar”
Damascus / Midan: “the people want to topple the regime”
“There are no infiltrators” “Syrian media full of lies”
Beginning of the demonstration inside Al-Hassan Mosque
Beginning of the demonstration outside Al-Hassan Mosque
Protesters tear down poster of Assad
Damascus / Darayyah
demolishing Hafiz Al-Assad Statue
The Martyr Ammar Mahmoud
Damascus / Qaboun: the body of a dead protester clearly visible
Damascus / Qaboun: “God, Syria, Freedom and Nothing More” “the people want to topple the regime”
Damascus / Tal: “The Syrian People Stand United”
Damascus / Tal: “The people want to topple the regime”
Damascus / Tal: “The people want to topple the president”
Damascus / Douma: demonstrations
Damascus / Douma: 4 martyrs
Damascus / Kisweh: “we will follow zenga zenga dar dar, until we remove you Bashar” “the people want to topple the regime”
Damascus / Barzeh
Gunfire & Casualties 
The First Barzeh Martyr: Kamal Barakat
Damascus / Arbeen & Zamalka: “we will persevere” “the people want to topple the regime”
Damascus / Arbeen & Zamalka: the Martyr Ahmad Al-Mamluke
 Damascus / Harasta: “Down with Assad, the Ass” “Down with the traitors”
Martyr
Damascus / Zabadani: “the people want to topple the regime”
Damascus / Mouaddamiyyah: Dodging bullets, still protesters, near the end of the video shout “the people want to topple the regime”
Damascus / Jobar: protesters parading the body of the Martyr Omar Al-Homsi, shout “the people want to topple the regime”
 Damascus / Qatana
Deraa: “the people want to topple the regime” “he who kills his own people is a traitor”
Deraa: removing Assad name from hospital sign
Deraa / Izraa: “paramedic announces: 15 dead in Izraa”
A dead 7 year-old
Deraa / Jassem: “the people want to topple the regime”
Deraa / Nawa: speaker explains that demand to change regime is the people’s choice. Banner carried by some protesters mock the concept of infiltrators by saying “alien from outer space spotted”
Deraa / Hrak
Homs / Rastan: “Peaceful, Peaceful, Freedom, Freedom”
Homs / Rastan: “We are not members of the Muslim brotherhood, we are not Salafis, our demand is freedom””
Homs: Protesters under gunfire
Homs / Bayadah: Martyrs
 Homs / Bab Amr: the people want to topple the regime”
“He who kills his own people is a traitor”
Protesters under gunfire
“The people want to topple the regime” Banner: “Peaceful Not Salafist”
Homs / Khaldiyyeh: Martyrs
“The people want to topple the regime”
Hama
Hama: “the people want to topple the regime”
Hama: tearing down a poster of Assad
Hama: Martyr
Qamishly

Lattakia

Jableh: “the people want to topple the regime”

Tartous

Raqqa

Golan: protesters under fire
Demolishing an Assad statue

Alboukamal

Deir Ezzor

Mouarrat Al-Nouman

Mayadeen

Amoudeh

Hassakeh

Salamiyyeh

Talkalakh

Snipers

Tabaqa

Idlib

Aleppo