Sunday, May 1, 2011

Lift the Siege!

Protesters call Assad a traitor, and continue to defy his troops and thugs, as Kurds throw their lot completely behind their Arab compatriots thus deepening Assad’s crisis.

Saturday, April 30
·         According to eyewitness reports 6 people were killed by Assad troops. The dead included Osama Al-Sayassneh, son of Ahmad Al-Sayassneh, the Imam Al-Omary Mosque in Deraa City who was shot in the head for refusing to divulge the whereabouts of his father. Osama was host in the Mosque courtyard with three other young men.
·         Eyewitnesses report that 100 residents died in Deraa City alone since last Monday due to shelling and use of life gunfire against the locals by troops affiliated with the 4th Division.
·         Deraa City remains under siege with all basic services shut down, including communications, water and electricity. Food and medical supplies are running low, people depend on stored items. The cities of Kark and Sheikh Maskeen have also been attacked.
·         According to eyewitness reports, residents of Basra, Sayda, Maarbeh, etc. who came to the aid of Deraa City on April 29 were shot by army troops and security officers, fatalities and injuries reported.
·         50 women activists demonstrated in front of the People Assembly in Damascus to protest the siege of Deraa, 11 were arrested.
·         Known opposition leaders Hassan Abdulazeem and Omar Qashash were also arrested.
·         3000 protesters held a candle light vigil in Bayas chanting anti-regime slogans.
·         Protest leaders called for a week of continuous protest to lift the siege imposed on Deraa City, Douma and other communities. Protests are planned throughout Deraa Province (Sunday), Damascus Suburbs (Monday), Banyas and Jableh (Tuesday) Homs and Talbisseh (Wednesday) and Tal Kalakh (Thursday). Nightly vigils are also scheduled to take place every night and throughout the country.
·         A video that came to light on Saturday morning shows that a massacre has taken place near the town of Talbisseh. Locals suspect the pro-Assad gangs known as the Shabbiha of being the perpetrators.


Calls for toppling the regime adopted by Kurdish protesters in the city of Amoudeh on April 29 marks the first time Kurdish protesters have adopted this cry and signify an important milestone in Kurdish attitude towards the protest movement and their future in Syria. The movement has been a mostly Arab affair up to that moment. But now calls for ouster of the Assads are helping Syria’s Arab and Kurd communities find common grounds. While many analysts have taken pains to highlight the divisive effect of the protests movement, it is in actuality uniting most Syrians against their oppressors in a process that is helping the country’s myriad communities acknowledge their joint destiny.

With this development yet another tactic employed by the Assads to contain the protest movements seems to have failed. Syria’s Kurds refused to be coopted. The promise that Assad made to the Kurds calling for granting citizenship to the over 300,000 denaturalized members of the Kurdish community has not had the desired effect. The Kurds will not be fooled by the promises of a tyrant. They have seen him renege on so many of them before.   

Homs / Talbisseh: this video shows the aftermath of a massacre that took place on the road leading from Talbisseh to Homs. Residents say the young men were on their way to Homs and blame pro-Assad gangs, known as the Shabbiha, for the killing.
Homs / Talbisseh: video of an artillery shell found on the roof of one of the houses. Activists are calling on military experts to determine its kind.
Harasta / A Soldier’s Testimony: the young soldier interviewed here says that he is from the Republican Guard and shows his military ID and tag to prove it. He says he and 250 of his comrades were told to don the uniform of anti-terrorism units and were then brought to Harasta where they were told they have to help contain armed gangs. But the soldier says that the only people in the streets were the unarmed protesters shouting “the people want to topple the regime” and the security forces firing straight at them without giving any warning. He says at one point he and few other colleagues advanced towards the protesters pretending they were going to shoot, then dropped their weapons and ran for cover with the protesters who protected them with their bodies against security officers who opened fire on them. The young soldier then tells people not to believe government lies about gangs and infiltrators.

Amoudeh / Kurdish protest: “the people want to topple the regime”
Damascus: women stage silent protest against the siege of Deraa.
Banyas, April 30: 3000 protesters hold night vigil calling for lifting siege imposed on Deraa. Chants “the people want to topple the regime” “Assad has betrayed Syria”
“We don’t love you (Bashar), let us be” “In Arabic and Turkish we will make you cry” “Deraa has become Gaza” “We see it openly, we don’t want to see Bashar Al-Assad anymore”
“Leave, leave you coward, your people has grown weary of oppression” “Deraa is our guiding light”
Damascus / Zabadani: funeral of a martyr from nearby Madaya currently under siege. Chant: “the people want to topple the regime” “Leave, leave”

Homs / Hawleh: security fire straight at protesters killing and injuring many. The old woman seen in the video is calling the security officers “dogs.” Though the video was uploaded on April 30, it may have been taken on April 29. 

Lattakia: scenes from crackdown by security forces, army troops and Shabbiha on protesters on April 29. According to eyewitnesses, these scenes encapsulate what Lattakia streets are like these days. 

Deraa City / April 29: activist record security officers firing at protesters, he assures them “we’re peaceful” and tells them that he is “going to show the world what they are doing in Deraa.” He ends by taunting a security officer to shoot him.

Kobani /Ayn Al-Arab: Kurdish protester carry the Syrian flag. This is a very significant development and has become a staple of Kurdish protests of late. Kurds used to carry their own flag only in their protests. By carrying the Syrian flag, the Kurds are asserting their belonging to Syria and are expressing their solidarity with their Arab compatriots. Protesters also chanted slogans urging and taunting Aleppo to join the protest movement.

Idlib / Bench: protesters demand lifting of siege on Deraa and chant “leave, leave”

Latakia, April 29
Damascus / Tal / April 29: “the people want to topple the regime” 

Homs / Al-Bayadeh: protesters come under gunfire on April 29

Deraa / Sheikh Miskeen: tanks enter the city on April 29, eyewitnesses speak of shelling and fatalities. The city had purged itself of all statues and posters of Assad over the last few weeks, and like many Deraa towns has been running its own affairs. 

Deraa / Massakin Saida: protesters get shot as they try to enter Deraa on April 29

Homs / Kafaar Aaya / April 29: “Leave O Bashar”