Sunday, April 17, 2011

Freedom After Speech!

Bashar Al-Assad’s newest speech was preceded and followed by protests calling for his ouster. Sunday marks Independence Day and might witness fresh protests.

Saturday marked another tragic day in the history of the Syrian Revolution as a child protester in Homs was felled by bullets of security officers, and the whole scene was captured on camera. He was one of two confirmed fatalities from Homs. Security crackdown was also reported in Rastan, where a status of hafiz Al-Assad was burned and destroyed on Friday, and Tablisseh where the head of the statue was taken to be hit with shoes. No word on exact number of casualties yet.

Meanwhile, Syria’s women reconfirmed their intention to become a major force in the revolution from now on by organizing two protests in Banyas and Ankhel. 

As for Assad’s new speech, the inhabitants of Deraa, Douma and Mouddamiyyah took to the streets immediately in impromptu protests meant to show their rejection of it, lock stock and barrel.  For first time in a long time, there was freedom after speech: our freedom after Assad’s speech.

It is also interesting to note that this marks the second time Assad chose not to address the Syrian people directly. In his first speech he actually addressed the People’s Assembly, whose members are vetted by security apparatuses, and in the second, the members of his new hand-picked cabinet. In other words, in both times he was really addressing his own base. He must have realized that he has little or nothing to offer the protesters who are demanding his ouster, his speeches were simply meant to strengthen and consolidate his base as his security officers carry out their campaign of terror and intimidation against the protesters.

On the other hand, and while some in the Silent Majority might find his performance more convincing this time due to the business-like mannerisms he adopted, many are likely to see it for what it is: another demonstration of his arrogance and willful blindness. This is likely to pave the way for an injection of fresh blood into the protest movements in the days to come. The Revolution, then, continues, and tomorrow might just witness another important day for the protesters as they mark Syria’s Independence Day.

More than 600 protesters attended. This marks the largest such protest to take place outside Syria in decades. Syria's diaspora communities are breaking the barrier of fear outside as well. Many protesters later walked all the way to the White House despite the rain to get their message to the Obama Administration, which is: The Syrian people want a free Syria and they want to topple the regime because Assad is a criminal not a reformer.

In order to appreciate the bravery for the people who attended this protests, read this article by LA times: Fear runs deep for Syrian Americans
At one rally in Anaheim, they faced off against protesters backing the authoritarian regime of President Bashar Assad. Some took photos of the anti-regime demonstrators, threatening to cause trouble for their families still in Syria. A few people hid their faces behind sunglasses or signs. Many others said they had stayed away after hearing rumors that Syrian security agents would monitor the protests.


Damascus / Douma: nightly protest in response to Assad’s new speech
Damacus / Tal: nightly protest, note participation by children and young most participants are. Chant: “We wanted it peaceful, but you brought your Russian Kalashnikovs”
Damascus / Jobar: protesters come under sporadic gunfire from security during April 15 as they tried to march to the Abbasid Square
Mouaddamiyyeh: protests in response to Assad’s new speech. Chant: “the people want to dismantle the regime”
Banyas, a women’s protest: “God, Syria, Freedom and Nothing More!” Note how enthusiastic the protesters become when they chant “the people want to topple the regime”
Banyas: funeral of Osama Al-Shaikh
Banyas: a tour in the town of Baydah
Banyas / Baydah: interview with eyewitness to last attack by security and Shabbiha. He recounts how they stormed in, trashed the place, stole the cash he had stashed and the valuables, and insulted him. He said that they changed into civvies in the nearby church before storming.
Banyas / Baydah: the aftermath of the Shabbiha’s looting of the local church. Images say it all.
Homs: Funeral of Muhammad Al-Olaiwi who died under torture after a week of captivity. Security officers opened fire on mourners leading to the death of a young boy, as the really gruesome second video shows. Chants: “the people want to topple the regime” and “the Syrian people are one”
Mouarrat Al-Noman: Army General joins protesters
Deraa: protests in response to Assad’s new speech. Chants: “the people want to topple the regime”
Chants: “Leave, leave. The people want to topple the regime”
Deraa: morning protests near Al-Omary Mosque
Deraa / Ankhel: protests by women demanding freedom of political detainees, dismissing the new cabinet as a “second fart”.
“Bashar listen, the Syrian people are all lions”
Deraa: protest in front of the local high court , one of few official buildings in Deraa still under state control, sporting posters of Bashar, and statue of Hafiz Assad.
Deraa / April 15: “Leave, leave. The people want to topple the regime.” 

Lattakia: ID of a security officer taken by protesters on April 15 to show that the infiltrators are actually security officers
Lattakia: funeral of Ayman Tarifi
Hama: tear gas used on April 15 to disperse protesters
Rastan: celebrating release of man behind burning Hafiz Al-Assad statue
Golan: demonstration in solidarity with the people of Syria “the people want to liberate the Golan” “Liberating Man is prerequisite to liberating the Golan” “Syria stronger with freedom” “People are demanding their democratic rights, we wish these demonstrations don’t meet with bullets” “No to dictatorship, yes to freedom”
Alboukamal: protests on April 15, Alboukamal is just across the border from Iraq.