Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Massacres Galore, but who’s watching? And does anyone give a damn?

As the world watches, calculates, weighs options, ponders and pontificates, the Assads tend ever so caringly their growing killing fields.

Tuesday June 14, 2011

6 civilians reported dead in Arihaa in northwestern Syria, as government death squads continue their crackdown against unarmed civilians protesting Assad authoritarian rule… Military operations continue in Jisr Ashoughour as more protesters say that the mass graves uncovered by Syrian TV actually host bodies of protesters not security officers… Defecting Colonel Hussain Harmoush says he saw with his own eyes Iranian and Hezbollah snipers targeting protesters… Military operations continue in the city of Alboukamal on the borders with Iraq amidst a news blackout… Number of Syrian refugees in Turkey said to have reached 9,000… Army tanks and troops move towards the city of Mouarrat Al-Nouman… Syrian Revolution Face Book Page names the coming Friday after Saleh Al-Ali, an Alawite leader of the Syrian revolution against French occupation in the hope of appealing to the Alawite community to join the protest movement...  

While attacking communities close to the Turkish border, Syrian troops have taken positions no closer than five miles from that border, according to many refugees, thus allowing civilians to escape into Turkey.
Despite months of a similar violent crackdown in Syria, there has not been a peep from the U.N. Security Council. Russia and China are getting their diplomatic revenge for the way the Libya resolution quickly turned into NATO bombing.
The prominent Syrian poet Adonis, in an open letter published Tuesday in a Lebanese daily, called on Assad to let Syrians decide their own future. "It seems your destiny is to sacrifice yourself for your mistakes and to give back voice to the people and let them decide,'' he wrote.
The Arab League has publicly criticised the violence in Syria for the first time, saying Arab states are "angry and actively monitoring" the crisis. The comments from the outgoing secretary general, Amr Moussa, drew a bitter response from Damascus. Syria's representative at the league described them as "unbalanced and politically motivated".
The evidence gave weight to the US and Israeli allegations of a Syrian nuclear programme. The IAEA now accepts that Deir Alzour was a nuclear reactor which was under construction at the time of being bombed in 2007.
“We see the elements of an armed opposition across Syria,” the American official said. “In the northwest, we see it as having taken over. There are a lot of them.” “We don’t really know who these armed groups are,” the official added, but noted that they are “religiously based, absolutely.” I don’t know who this American official is, but he obviously needs new glasses. Individual incidents of self-defense do not an armed opposition make.
There are said to be up to 10,000 within a few kilometres of the border on the Syrian side, waiting to be able to go back to their homes or to cross into Turkey if the violence moves further north. Strangely however, the Turkish government is hiding its hospitability by denying access to the camps and making it a gamble on getting in to see Syrians in hospitals.
In one house with “blood all over the walls we couldn’t breathe” because of the stench of bodies of three men, eight women, and three boys. Syrian military helicopters spotted Ali’s group, and one member was killed – struck in the head by rounds from the helicopter – as they ran for seven hours trying to hide.

Syria’s tragedy is that it lies at the center of so many clashing interests and agendas, very few of them, if any, seem compatible with the interests of the protesters who are yearning fighting and dying for freedom.

Take the official death toll figures of 1,500-2,000 offered by human rights groups and quadruple it: now you have an idea what’s really happening in Syria. According to eyewitnesses more than 1,000 were killed in Rastan only in Week 11, Deraa City alone, not to mention other Hauran communities, may have suffered as much as 2,000 fatalities. And heaven only knows what is happening now in Jisr Ashoughour.

We try hard to get the truth out but to no avail. Everything we say pales in comparison to what is actually taking place, and so many in the international community keep falling victim’s to Assad propaganda, as they speak of clashes, mutinies and armed resistance, making a mockery out of the bravery of the thousands upon thousands of unarmed protesters who face tanks every day with bear chests and cry “peaceful, peaceful,” refusing to take up arms.

People continue to speak about the growing potential for civil strife and sectarian warfare, and the concerns of minority communities in Syria, especially the Alawites. But in reality only Assad loyalists have access to sophisticated weaponry. In fact, even army defectors couldn’t get access to anything heavier than automatic assault rifles, and an armored car or two. Meanwhile, and for all talk about Alawite fears and concerns, the majority of the killers, so far, have been Alawites, and the majority of the killed – Sunnis. Yes, there is growing anger, and sectarian discourse can be heard in all quarters, but the balance of power and actual terror still favors the Assads. Still, so many speak of the situation as though it were a battle between equal sides.

For all our efforts and all the bravery of our on-the ground activists, we are obviously losing the media war, and a regime that refers to its people as infiltrators and to refugees as tourists is actually winning. But that’s to be expected really, after all, we are not fighting against the Assads alone, we’re fighting against their main backers as well: no, not Iran, Hezbollah, Russia or China, but the gods of indifference, cynicism and senility. Heaven help us.

Hama City / June 14: a demonstration by lawyers, doctors and engineers. “Leave, leave”
Hama City / June 14: the demonstration carries into the night, with people still chanting “leave, leave”
Jisr Ashoughour / June 14: soon-to-be refugees chant anti-Assad slogans as they prepare to cross the borders into Turkey “the people want to topple the regime”
Interview with a refugee in Turkey (Clip from Al-Jazeerah)
Muhammad says “they stepped all over me, but I am a man not an animal, I am a man like all those around me. Millions of people have stepped on in Syria, like they did in Baydah”
Damascus / Douma / June 13: general strike
Damascus / Al-Qadam / June 14: an all-women protest “the people want to topple the regime”
Deir Ezzor / Qouriyeh / June 13: an army defector joins the protesting crowds
Refugees from Jisr Ashoughour speak out (English subtitles provided)
Inhabitants of Qaboun say no to army intervention (English subtitles)
Idlib / Saraqib: children playing soccer with the head of a bronze Hafiz Al-Assad statue that was recently dismantled
Aleppo / Atabrib: funeral for an activist
Banyas: heavy security presence continues, weeks after the army entered the city

The nightly vigils tradition continues throughout Syria

Damascus / Qaboun: “the people want to topple the regime”
Damascus / Kisweh
Damascus / Mouaddamiyah:
Damascus / Zamalka
Damascus / Al-Qadam
Aleppo / Marei
Deraa / Sanamein