Thursday, April 21, 2011

Intimidation vs. Defiance!

Protests continue in the face of increasing intimidation. Deraa, Banyas and Homs garner attention, but all hopes hinge on moving Aleppo and Damascus.

Today, Assad’s militias-cum-mercenaries known as the Shabbiha drove around the streets of Lattakia and Jable sticking their Kalashnikovs out of car windows and shouting sectarian pro-Assad slogans. Meanwhile, security forces conducted large-scale raids of key neighborhoods, i.e. ones that played key-role in the protest movements, especially Al-Sleibeh, culminating in over 200 arrests. In Jableh, thousands of residents held new nightly vigil and chanted anti-Shabbiha slogans.

Meanwhile, Homs continues to be in a defiant mood, despite the severity of the security-led crackdown over the last few days. A large demonstration with over 3,000 participants reportedly took place outside the Nouri Mosque following the Afternoon prayer. No security intervention was reported. Most shops remains closed in mourning. The nearby town of Talbisseh continues to be under siege, but the people managed to protect their neighborhoods from armyand security forces, by burning tires and blocking main entrance into town, as it continues to mourn her dead.

Daraa cities and towns held many protests and vigils in support of Homs and Banyas. So, did the Damascene suburb of Darayyah. It is amazing how peaceful and infiltrators-free protests can be when security forces and Assad militias are not around.

The security chief of the Banyas, whom many blame for the shameful episode in Baydah was reportedly fired from his post, but local residents continue their campaign to paint over all sayings by Assad plastered on city walls.

But and because much rides on its decision to take part in the protests or keep its quiet, today’s Kudos goes to Aleppo where students at the University of Aleppo held a brief on-campus protest before they were dispersed by security officers chanting pro-Assad slogans. Many arrests followed.

Deraa City Square. Posters show martyrs. Graffiti (Right to Left): Martyrs and Revolutionaries Square, Freedom Freedom, No to destruction and mayhem, the Syrian People United, We sacrifice our blood and soul for you martyr, No to sectarianism.  

Aleppo University Protest: dispersed by security officers chanting pro-Assad slogans
Homs: A crowd of 3000 left the Nouri Mosque after the Afternoon prayers and took part in a protest that lasted for several hours. Participants chanted “the people want to topple the regime,” “Syrian media full of liars,” “leave, leave Bashar,” and “he who kills his own is a traitor”
Homs / Gruesome video: the claim made here is that this video shows the corpse and cut-off feet of Rastan’s protester who led the move to destroy Assad’s statue in the town’s central square. No independent verification is available.
Homs: these new videos of Sunday’s bloody crackdown in Freedom Square seem to confirm claims that the Square was full at the time when security forces opened fire. Only one protester has been confirmed dead, but the terror and the defiance shown here are extremely real. In the second video, protesters can be heard cursing Assad. Another protester at the end says they are using grenades, but the sound seems to emanate from a heavier caliber gun. Indeed, there were indication that grenades were sued.
Homs: a new video of the martyr that fell on April 19.
Damascus / Darayyah: One Assad Bashar poster burnt as protesters chant “the people want to topple the regime,” another is pelted with rocks until it’s obliterated.
Damascus / Darayyah: thousands took part in a candle light demonstration, chanting “we sacrifice our blood and soul for your martyrs”
Damascus / Madaya & Zabadani: new video of yesterday’s nightly protests
Banyas: painting over sayings of Assad, April 18.
Banyas / Bayda (15 minutes): live testimonies from the crackdown. Summary of 1st testimony: They (the Shabbiha) arrested over 500 of us from all age groups. They took us in busses to several of their villages where people mocked and spat at us, even though they knew me and my brother. I was their barber, they used to come to my shop, and my brother did work for them. There is no money in the village anymore, they stole everything: cash and jewelry, equipment from the stores, including mine, we live on aid from nearby towns. They abused women verbally but did not assault them.
Jableh: nightly protests continue for second straight night. Chants: “with our bear chest we’ll face the Shabbiha,” ”The people want to topple the regime,” “Neither Brotherhood members nor Salafists, this is a free revolution”
Deraa: Karamah Square Sit-In
Deraa: April 19 witnessed many festive vigils and sit-ins in Deraa, we now have videos. In the 1st we hears chants of “Leave, leave.” In the 2nd, a little girl recites a poem. In the 3rd, a protester reads a letter from the local Christian community in support of the revolution, as crowds chant “the Syrian people are one, Christians and Muslims.” In the 4th, protesters chant “the people want to topple the regime.” In the 5th, there is singing. In the 6th, chants in support of Homs.
Deraa / April 20: students protests
Deraa / Ankhel: protesters chanting “the people want to topple the regime”
Deraa / Sheikh Miskeen: removal of Bashar and Hafiz Al-Assad posters from the city’s entrance
Deraa / Sheikh Miskeen: protests from April 17