Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Making of Syria’s Second Independence!

Following the bloodiest day in the revolution, threats from security fail to disperse Homs protesters as an estimated 150,000 gather at the new Hurriyyah (Freedom) Square.

After offering 30 confirmed martyrs to the cause yesterday, the inhabitants of Homs marched to the old Clock-Tower Square, now renamed Al-Hurriyyah (Freedom) Square, for what they billed as a sit-in that will last until regime falls. Mover 150,000 protesters are said to be taking part, chanting slogans of national unity, such as “Peaceful, peaceful, Muslims and Christians,” and the usual and necessary reminder “the people want to topple the regime” and even “the people want to remove the President.” Threats by security forces were met with indifference, as the deadline they gave to protesters to disperse passed and all that the security officers could do is watch with incredulity the unfolding scene.

The Sit-In lasted the entire day and well through the night, but as the day unfolded numbered to around 6,000 protesters around 2am on Tuesday. Shortly after, eyewitnesses reported the beginning of a crackdown by security forces. Early reports spoke of heavy gunfire but mentioned only one fatality and a number of injured. Videos that were posted later seem to confirm these reports. Assad security officers might have been shooting in the air to scare off the remaining protesters, rather than at them, for once. However, later reports indicate that the main theater of events are the side-streets where security officers tried to trap and arrest protesters as they pulled out from the Square, occasionally firing straight at them, as some eyewitnesses asserted. More details and videos will surely emerge by tomorrow, and we hope to be able to provide a more accurate picture of what exactly took place.

Meanwhile, Lattakia held protests and funerals of its own, as Sunday’s death toll has been confirmed at 12 but is expected to rise as we get further confirmation. Communications with Lattakia have been sporadic.

Protests were also reported in a number of Damascene suburbs including, Douma, Barzeh and Mouaddamiyyeh, which witnessed some violent episodes on Independence Sunday as well.  Deraa to the South and the Kurdish town of Kobani/Ain Al-Arab to the North also saw protests and demonstrations.

Homs / Crackdown in Freedom Square: At 0:20, protesters can be seen carrying one of their colleagues. This conforms with early reports of one fatality and three injured. At 1:15 and 1:40 protesters voice can be heard calling each other and encouraging each to “return” to Square, as they curse the security officers. At 2:15, protester says mockingly “this is the reform!” Another says: “So breaking things is forbidden, but shooting us is not” (referring to statues of Assad that brought down in Rastan, elsewhere). At 2:40, gunfire stops, protesters return momentarily to Square. At 3:10, “Dogs, this is the reform! Return guys, return.” Protesters start pouring back in chanting: “the people want to topple the regime,” immediately gunfire can be heard again. At 5:07, protester says “there are snipers guys.” At 5:25, “he who kills his own people is a traitor.” As we can deduce from video, security shot mostly in the air to scare off the protesters otherwise we could have had a virtual bloodbath. The video itself seems to show the square after protesters withdrew into the myriad side-streets. Their numbers were around 6,000 an hour before the shooting was reported, but obviously, many of them must have left before the shooting got started, this is why the square was emptied in no time minimizing casualties.
Homs: Injured from the Sit-In Crackdown. Protester says “don’t take his to the hospital, they’ll snatch him”
Homs / Sit-In: Daytime: favorite chants throughout “the topple want to topple the regime” and “a sit in until the regime falls” “He who kills his own people is a traitor” “to heaven we march as millions of martyrs”
 Homs / Sit-In: Night-time
Homs / Hamidiyyeh: people march to join sit-in. Chants “Syrian Media are liars” “Christians and Muslims are peaceful, peaceful” and “the people want to topple the regime”
Homs: Funerals for Sunday’s martyrs. Chants “the people want to topple the regime” “We want freedom, Muslims and Christians alike”
 Homs / Nouri Mosque: “to heaven we march as millions of martyrs” “where are the infiltrators?”
Banyas: residents kick out Syria TV
Banyas: local woman leaders addresses crowd on Sunday, mocks the Shabbiha who stormed Bayda and says it’s as though they liberated the Golan and Gaza.
Lattakia: a martyr from Sunday’s Massacre
Lattakia: nightly protests. Chants: “people want to topple the regime” “leave, leave”
Jablah: after prayer protest
Jusr Ashoughour / Sunday protests: “No more fear” “Maher, you coward, send your troops to Golan”
Kobani: chanting the “Syrian people are one” and “freedom, freedom,” Kobani’s majority Kurdish population throws its lot once and for all with the protests by continuing to organize daily protests since last Friday.
 Mouaddamiyyah: in a surprising move, thousands of protesters take to the streets after morning prayers on Tuesday in solidarity with the people in Homs and Deraa.
Mouaddamiyyah: Earlier on Monday. The scond video is of women’s protest demonstration