Friday, April 8, 2011

Moving in different orbits…


Assad’s initiatives meet with popular indifference as protesters prepare for another big Friday

It seems that Assad is hoping that a few decrees will achieve what violence couldn’t. Today, Assad issued decrees granting citizenship to over 250,000 Kurds who have been deprived of it since the census of 1962. He also fired the governor of Homs and Deraa in the hope of appeasing the local populations.  Yesterday, he called for closing the casino that had opened for business less than 2 months ago, and order the reinstatement of Niqab-clad teachers who had been removed from their positions last Summer when the regime flaunted its secular credentials to credulous western officials and experts.

But while Assad undertook all these “major” reforms, protesters were preparing for tomorrow’s protests.

In Deraa Governorate, inhabitants of Sanamein and Hara kicked police officers who tried to retake their old stations , leaving behind all their weapons, which the inhabitants left in the armory, insisting on keeping their revolution peaceful. There was also demonstrations in Ankhel and Jassem meant as dress rehearsals for tomorrow. In Ankhel, the new chief met with local protest leaders and asked them for their demands. “Toppling the regime,” came the response according to eyewitnesses, at which point the security chief and his escort left the gathering, and women literally threw old shoes at them until their convoy left town.

There were also demonstrations in Dariyyah Suburb near Damascus, Lattakia, Banyas and Deir Ezzor. In Homs, members of the Fawair and Ouaydat clans poured into the streets of the old town to be ready for an early start of their protests tomorrow. In Qamishly, hundreds of Kurdish protesters showed their rejection of Assad’s overtures and declared their solidarity with their fellow Arabs in their demands for freedom.

Considering all this, tomorrow Assad will hear what people think about his overtures.

Deraa Videos

Deraa: protests in Hara
Deraawomen join the demonstrations (second half of clip)
DeraaNight before the storm. Chants“The People Want to Topple the Regime”
Deraademonstrations in Ankhel and Jassem
Deraaa 12-year old boy just released from prison, showing signs of torture

Dariyyah/Mouaddamiyyah Videos

Inhabitants of the neighboring suburbs of Dariyyah and Mouaddamiyyah hold a demonstration that begins in the former and ends in the latter. Banner: “We want the police to protect the demonstration”
Banner“Peacefully, Peacefully. No to Sectarianism.”
Mouaddamiyyah Funeral – April 6

Lattakia and Banyas Videos

Lattakiaprotest in front of the apartment of MP Zakariah Silwayeh for failing to present the people’s demands in the People’s Assembly. Chant “Silwayeh listen, the blood of martyrs is not for sale”
Same Demo - Chant: “Silwayeh you lowlife, the blood of martyrs is not cheap”
Banyaspolice use teargas to disperse protesters
Banyas“We want it peaceful. We want change, but we don’t want to destroy or wreak havoc. We have legitimate demands that must be heard… the state of emergency should be lifted, all emergency should be cancelled… we want to tell the authorities to release all female prisoners…the constitution should be amended, the law should prevail… we don’t want rabbits and lions (Assad means Lion in Arabic)… the negligent official should be held accountable.. this homeland is for all, there should be no injustice in it, and no right should be lost… No to authoritarianism, no to wreaking havoc on the country… No to sectarianism, we stand for national unity…”

Miscellaneous Videos

Qamishly Demonstration
Homsnew clip showing last Friday’s demonstration were much bigger affair than previously thought. The situation is set to be more explosive tomorrow
Deir Ezzor – Korya City: clips show demonstrations from March 27. Clearly, there are many areas around Syria joining the protests movements, but to lack of coordination, clips are arriving late. Protest movement is larger and more widespread than we could document.
Deir Ezzor – Korya City: clip from April 1st.  

Interviews

Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian novelist and opposition figure who now lives in Maryland and has helped young activists in Syria to organize, said that security forces had largely withdrawn from the towns where the largest protests had taken place. Inside the security cordon that now surrounds Dara’a, where Syria’s popular protests first began three weeks ago, the town itself has become “semiautonomous,” he said. Dara’a, Baniyas and several Damascus suburbs are effectively under the control of the residents, Mr. Abdulhamid said. “We used to call them the poverty belt, and now we call them the revolution belt,” he said of the towns surrounding Damascus, the capital.
"Syria's diversity and the decimated state of its civil society … create a different set of conditions that will make the pace of progress of the revolution not necessarily slow, but episodic," said Ammar Abdulhamid, a prominent Syrian human rights activist living in the United States… "All of Damascus' suburbs have caught the bug: to the north, At Tall; to the east, Kafar Batna, Duma, Harasta and Saqba; to the west, Mouaddamiyyah; and to the south, Kisweh," Abdulhamid said. "What has long been known as the Poverty Belt is now the Revolution Belt."

Assad cannot quench revolutionary fires, exiled Syrian activist tells NOW Lebanon
“There is nothing that [President] Bashar [al-Assad] and his committees of thugs and minions can do to quench the revolutionary fires,” Ammar Abdulhamid told NOW Lebanon in an e-mail on Thursday…