Thursday, April 28, 2011

Coming together in the face of all odds!

For long people have been asking about the alternative, now the activists are fielding one.

On Wednesday, six weeks after the antigovernment protests began, a group of opposition figures announced what they called a united front, calling on the Syrian Army to side with the protesters and protect them from the feared state security apparatus.

The Guardian saw the names of some of the 150 signatories to the statement, many of whose identities were not publicly released. These suggest the group is a fairly weighty coalition involving a range of prominent figures, including those from the secular, Kurdish and Islamist communities. Exiled signatories include Ammar Abdulhamid, the veteran US-based Syrian rights activist… "We want the president and the regime to be referred to the international criminal court," said one human rights monitor in the capital. Radwan Ziadeh, the US-based head of the Damascus Centre for Human Rights, and another signatory of the new opposition group, said he wanted immediate sanctions, the freezing of assets and travel bans on all those responsible for opening fire on protesters. "This is the only way to protect the people," he told the Guardian.

An informal Interview.

As the articles above show, we are now getting our act together as dissidents, activists and opposition members living inside and outside the country in order to field a recognizable alternative which the world can now engage. Decision-making will remain a collaborative process involving all members, and support networks abroad will soon be established.

Meanwhile, and on the ground, the situation in Deraa remains murky and tragic. Communications have been sporadic. But the few we had paint a serious humanitarian situation. Communications lines are down, basic services severed, food and water rations and medical supplies are running low, and gunfire and the echoes of artillery shells continue to reverberate through the street of this small city. House to house searches were conducted in certain neighborhoods, and dozens of arrests were made. Some were shot on the spot by some eyewitness reports. Even doctors and patients at the National Hospital were put under arrest.

Despite all this, more and more people are taking to the streets and mingling with tanks, trying to prevail upon more army troops to join and protect them. The size of the mutiny is not yet known, too many conflicting keep pouring in. But one thing is clear: the situation warranted the addition of thirty more tanks sent earlier this morning from Damascus – too much for a mere show of force, or to combat an armed gang.

Elsewhere, gunfire by security forces against unarmed protesters in Hawleh Town in Homs left many dead. A similar development took place in Tal Kalakh. But the protests in Homs’ Khaldiyyeh suburb went without incident, and so did the daily protests in Banyas City, the Damascene suburbs of Tal, Saqba and Qara among many others, and the towns of Jassem and Ankhel in Deraa Province.

The failure by the Security Council to come with a resolution was disappointing, but expected. We can all count on the Assads’ impunity to have the matter revisited soon however. Because we will not give up in our struggle for freedom, and they can never curtail for long their murderous appetites. Meanwhile, we renew our call for effective and comprehensive targeted sanctions, travel bans and assets freeze of all key members in the Assad regime.

Syrian army tanks heading to Deraa
Banyas: English testimony by a local protester refuting claims of Syrian officials that protester are armed Salafi gangs
Homs /Hawleh: security forces open fire into crowd of unarmed protesters
This is the kind of propaganda that the Syrian people are subjected to through state-run media. It sort of put this whole line about Salafist infiltrators and armed gangs into perspective. Please bear these reports in mind next time you hear a Syrian official speaks about anything.
Syrian TV Report 1: interview with an alleged policeman who was allegedly attacked by protesters wielding sticks while the BBC crew, or so he alleges, filmed the whole thing by phone and urged the “policeman” to take part in the protest.
Syrian TV Report 2:  a report showing hallucinogens allegedly confiscated by border patrol who claim that they were sent by, get this, Al-Jazeerah satellite network!
Deraa / Tafas: huge demonstration in support of lifting the siege on Deraa City
Deraa / Jassem / April 27
Deraa / Nouaima: residents provide medical treatment to army troops shot by security officers for refusing to fire at protesters.
Deraa / Ankhel / April 26
Deraa / April 26: a local Christian protester speaks of his community’s support of the revolution. The video seems to have been recorded before the current developments  
Deraa: this video-clip was taken a couple of weeks ago shows troops from the 5th Division marching alongside protesters on the way towards Deraa City. The “defection,” we are now told, was not a spontaneous affair, but the result of weeks of contact between protester and the troops.
Deraa / April 1st: inhabitants have been working for long to cultivate relation with the army.
Jordan / Ramtha: a protest by Deraa refugees and local residents against the Assad regime made upon arrival in this Jordanian border town known for its close ties with Deraa. Chants: “Bashar you lowlife, the Syrian blood is not cheap”
Homs / Talkalakh
Homs / Al-Khaldiyyeh: “No Salafism, No terrorism… the people want to topple the regime”
Lattakia: report by local activists showing locations of army posts and how the city has been divided into security zones, separated by check points.
Damascus / Saqba: funeral
Jordanian Border: refugees from Deraa describe ordeal, and speak of defections in 5th Division and clashes with 4th Division led by Maher Al-Assad (Arabic)