Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Mourning After!

As exact figures of the dead and wounded from yesterday’s upheaval are still being worked out, more casualties are reported today as violent security-led crackdown continues to unfold throughout Syria. 

As expected today was a day of mourning and burying some of the dead, those whose bodies could be located and identified. But it was also a day for losing more people to sniper bullets and barrages of gunfire from security force. The situation was its worst in Deraa, Homs, Lattakia and Banyas where army units continue to lay siege to main towns and cities. As of the moment of writing these words, Tildo Town in Homs and the City of Banyas could be witnessing major upheavals as army units attempt to reassert control over them. Tildo already reported 12 people between dead and injured in Bloody Friday’s showdown.

Meanwhile, armored military vehicles are standing at the entrance of Douma near Damascus, checking every car as it goes in and out.

There were protests and demonstrations elsewhere in Syria as well but on a much lesser scale than yesterday’s. People are still trying to catch their collective breaths it seems. But protesters tone in all our communication with them detect a more defiant tone, especially as they realize that the international community may not be as forceful in tis condemnation of the Assads.

Syria is a country where the international community has consistently had little credibility. People did not necessarily factor foreign intervention in their calculation when they embarked on their revolution. Being on their own against all odds is what they are used to, which is the revolution will continue as people learn to look to their own ranks for leadership.

Samira Massalmeh, editor of government newspaper Tishreen, was dismissed from her position today for blaming security forces for the shootings that took place in Deraa on Bloody Firday. She did so during a brief interview with Al-Jazeerah Arabic ion which she also claimed that, by resorting to violence, security officers were contravening presidential directives.

Al-Jazeera also reported that Atef Najib, Deraa security chief, has been referred to courts, although it’s not clear on what charges, seeing that authorities, including Bashar Al-Assad himself, blamed the shootings on gangs of infiltrators. Firing an editor for blaming security, then putting security chief on trial, there’s bound to be some confusion in the upper ranks of the regime.

Of course, Samira is not exactly the most honest editor around. Indeed, her newspaper, and just before her sacking, ran a headline which claimed that 19 security officers were killed and 75 injured in yesterday’s upheavals, which it blamed on armed gangs.

The video below shows the headline, as well as the corpses of 11 Deraa martyrs.

Deraa
There will be many funerals in Deraa in the days to come as only 11 people were buried today, but the death toll is said to be many times as much, though no final figures are available, as many bodies were taken by security officers
Deraa Funeral (14 min & 9 min): tens of thousands of protesters took part in funeral marches throughout Deraa Governorate today. This is one of the largest. It took place in Deraa City itself starting at the Al-Omari Mosque. Chants: “Hurriya Hurriya (Freedom Freedom),” “Lalmoat (Til Death),” “The People Want to Topple the Regime,” “Leave, leave, Bashar”

Deraa: Women join protests. “The blood of martyrs will not go to waste” 
Deraa: army and security officers kick the corpse of a dead protester
Deraa: samples of tear gas canisters used against protesters 
Deraa: killing a protester by a sniper bullet near local hospital on April 8 
Deraa: medic killed by a sniper bullet on April 8 
 Deraa April 8: army troops and security officers beating one protester, dragging away corpse of another. 
Deraa: Sniper kills protester (skip to last 1 minute)
 Deraa Imam, April 8: “God, if were out for sectarian or partisan causes, don’t support us” 
Deraa: destroying statue of Hafiz Assad in the main square back on March 25 

Homs
Dozens of casualties were reported yesterday, more funerals will take place in the coming days.
Homs: an infiltrator was arrested by protesters. Unsurprisingly he was a cop, as his ID shows. He was urging the protesters to attack the local police station.
Homs: Funeral for 2 in Bab Amr. Chants: “People Want to Topple the Regime” “He Who Kills His Own People Is A Traitor”
Homs, funeral for martyr in Bab Al-Sibaa: this is the only time firearms are used by protesters: to shoot in the air.

Lattakia
People were out in droves today following yesterday’s bloody crackdown in which hand grenades were reportedly used by pro-Assad gangs. But no definite figure on casualties is yet available.
Lattakia Funeral: People “Maher you coward, take your soldiers to Golan” as soldiers and security officers look on from the sidewalks. One protester shows them a banner saying “Freedom” and mocks the People’s Assembly
Lattakia: Men chant “O Bouti (famous pro-Assad sheikh), O Hassoun (the Grand Mufti), Syrian people are not traitors,” women carry banner saying “no to sectarianism, Alawite, Kurds and Christians for national unity”
Lattakia, April 8: “Where you Aleppo?”
 

Douma
Douma is still under siege since yesterday, videos confirm reports of gunfire and casualties, but no words yet on final toll.  
Douma: video shows protesters came under gunfire on April 8, but at the end protesters chanted “no fear, no fear”  
Douma: casualties shown
Douma: how protests started before security opened fire.
Douma, A testimony by a wounded protester (Basheer Abdoulghani Delwan) given on April 6: “I ask god to heal us from injury and oppression. We all suffer from oppression… on accountof both the external and internal politics. Inside, corruption goes all the way from bottom to top… and we want to be rid of it, we want the reform that they spoke of for long to be implemented. We were beaten and injured, but God is the Healer, and after this, no one will be afraid… we have broken the barrier of fear in Douma… we started with 15,000 people, and they made the number smaller, and accused of being hooligans, but last week, praise be to God, hundreds of thousands came out… I was shot twice through and through in the back… one officer said we need alive this one… one security officer said we were Jews. I told him: we’re patriots not Jews. The more said we patriots the more they tortured us… even when we were at the hospital, they chained us to the beds… when people came to claim the bodies of the martyrs… they demanded our release first… When I was interrogated at the Tishreen Military hospital, they responded to each answer I gave by saying: you lie, you’re a Jew, then they made me put my finger print on my affidavit while I was blindfolded… also, when I was released, I was made to put my finger print on documents, I had no idea what they were. I asked: what am I affixing my finger print to. The said: don’t worry, you’re innocent. Then they let me out, and I was brought to this Hospital… they took my money, but left me the power invoices I had on me.

Banyas
Many protesters were white shrouds in a sign of defiance, knowing that the day is bound to turn bloody. They were right.
Banyas: “Listen, O Bashar, the voice of truth is not for sale… the People Want to Topple the Regime… Zenga Zenga Dar Dar, leave leave o Bashar… ” Speaker asking people who are standing: “what are you still afraid of?” Another interesting sign: “No to Rifa’at (Bashar’s uncle in exile), no to Khaddam (Bashar’s former VP who’s originally from Banyas), we want a step forward”
Speaker: “what are you afraid of? When you get hit by a bullet, just say God Is Great”
“The People Want to Topple the Regime”
The gathering grows bigger as the day wears out
“Down with Bashar, Down with Bashar. The People Want to Topple the Regime”

Miscellaneous Videos

Rifai Mosque: Yesterday, we posted this video showing an exchange between cameraman and security officer. Security officer: why are you filming? Protestor: none of your business. Protestor was abit tough, he overpowers the security officer, runs away, gets to post his clip.
Today, the young man was arrested by officers in civvies carrying electric batons as this video shows:
Harasta: protester killed by sniper on April 8
Aleppo: first major protest takes place in Al-Bab District. Chant: “Peaceful, Peaceful. Our demands are legitimate”
Aleppo – Ma’arra Al-Noma, Town of Jarjanaz, April 8
Raqqa, Tabaqa: April 8
Damascus - Tel: the people want to stop emergency law
Security officers changing into civvies in streets before joining crackdown

Interviews

Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian dissident who lives in Maryland and has helped organize the protests, said that according to his contacts in Dara’a, 100 may have been killed there and as many as 500 wounded. Though Syria’s protest movement is far more decentralized than it has been in Egypt and Bahrain, Mr. Abdulhamid said, its strength is growing. “Each community has its own uprising,” he said. “Every week the regime is being forced closer to its endgame.”