Friday, August 5, 2011

By the Numbers!

A new Syrian human rights group based in Cairo provides some important facts and figures in regard to the current situation in Syria.

Thursday August 4, 2011

A Syrian human rights group based in Cairo says Assad loyalists committed 28 documented cases of rape so far. The Group also puts the death toll among protesters so far at 2,675, including 158 children below 14, and among military and security officers at 386. The number of detainees is put 16,000, and those missing at 4,382. The number of adults who died under torture is said to 89, and that of refugees is 14,355, including 10,227 in Turkey alone, and 2,689 in Lebanon.

Thousands of residents continue to flee the City of Hama after 4 days of continued military crackdown. Eyewitnesses report more than 45 fatalities on Wednesday, and a large number of casualties. Tanks and troops now occupy the famous Aassi Square.

Fatalities were also reported in Hauran (Deraa ), Homs and Damascus.

Eyewitnesses in Deir Ezzor City report that more than ¼ of the city’s population estimated at 500,000 have already evacuated the city in anticipation of large-scale military operations by Assad loyalist troops.

Tanks also stormed a number of neighborhoods in Homs, including Bab Amr, Bab Al-Sibaa, Al-Bayadeh, Al-Khaldiyeh and Al-Qousour.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's August 2 meeting in Washington with Syrian democracy activists, as well as U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford's comments at his Senate confirmation hearing later the same day, highlight the administration's outreach to the Syrian opposition -- a historically divided group that now must come together and prepare for a post-Asad transition. This featured graphic, including the attached descriptive essay, outlines the Syrian opposition and its key players.
The UN statement called for an end to violence and said it “condemned the widespread violation of human rights by the Syrian authorities”, but fell short of taking decisive action. The call was issued as a presidential statement, which is not legally binding.
Syria currently exports around 150,000 barrels a day of heavy crude oil mostly to France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. A number of EU companies are also involved in oil and gas extraction and exploration in the country - including Gulfsands Petroleum, Royal Dutch Shell and Total.
"We're looking at ways to increase both political and financial pressure on Assad, and look at ways to put a squeeze on them, on his regime if you will, to constrain their revenue and to make it harder for them to carry out these kind of assaults," he told reporters. "What's important is that we continue to build the pressure. We're looking at sanctions, additional sanctions and measures we can take in the days coming. And we're going to continue to look at additional measures we can take that apply that pressure."
While the Council's statement, drafted mainly by Britain, does not carry the weight of a resolution, it warded off some of Brazil's proposals that followed Assad's line that his military was besieged. While some of those killings of security forces were brutal, the vast majority of casualties have been peaceful protestors killed by the security services.
In March, Ankara informed the United Nations Security Council that it had found weapons and ammunition aboard an Iranian cargo plane bound for Syria.  Turkish authorities ordered the plane to land in eastern Turkey on suspicion it was carrying weapons.  The cargo included rocket launchers, mortars, rifles, explosive materials and ammunition. 
"He (Assad) needs to urgently carry out reforms, reconcile with the opposition, restore peace and set up a modern state," Medvedev said in an interview in the southern Russian resort of Sochi with Russia's Ekho Moskvy radio, Russia Today television and Georgia's PIK-TV. (Reuters)
So what has to happen before the international community draws the line against Assad? This is not clear, but it should be remembered that it took at least 200,000 dead in Bosnia, as the international community with its diverging interests and sympathies squabbled over that carnage for years, before anything was done. We seem to have a replay of that film.
Some Syrian-Canadians say they’ve been threatened for speaking out against Bashar al-Assad’s brutal crackdown on protesters. It’s eerily reminiscent of complaints that Libyan diplomats in Ottawa spied on and intimidated Libyan-Canadians who spoke out against Moammar Gadhafi. These ominous reports of threats beg the question: When is it time to close another country’s embassy?

US - based Syrian dissident and human rights activist, Ammar Abdulhamid, discusses the roots of the Syrian rebellion and exposes the hypocrisy of the Assad regime on VOA's Press Conference USA with host Carol Castiel.
Noted Syrian human rights activist Ammar Abdulhamid tells VOA's Carol Castiel and Dakhil Shammo that the formal Arab opposition groups remain cut off from the street. The Syrian revolution is being made by the new protest movement in the street. They are more pragmatic and inclusive than the "official" opposition in Syria who are stuck in their old ideologies.
Syrian human rights activist Ammar Abdulhamid says democracy protesters are disgusted with Iran's support of Assad regime. Protesters also burn Russian and Chinese flags. Ammar tells Carol Castiel, host of VOA's Press Conference USA, that western leaders have nothing to fear from a post-Assad Syria.
Outspoken Syrian dissident and human rights activist Ammar Abdulhamid tells VOA's Carol Castiel that if the international community, particularly Washington, said unequivocally that Bashar al Assad must step down, it would embolden those in the military and business community who have yet to abandon the regime.

PS. If I am not translating slogans reiterated by protesters anymore, it is because by now, the important ones such as “the people want to topple the regime” “come one Bashar leave” “We only kneel before God” are now standard fare in all demonstrations.

Hama City: the shelling of residential apartments on August 1st. . The shelling continues on August 3 and August 4

Beirut: demonstrators in front of the Syrian Embassy showing sympathy with protesters in Syria get attacked by Assad supporters wielding batons and knives .

Another Lieutenant defects .

On Thursday, a funeral for the Damascene activist, Khalid Fakhani, from the Midan District, made up of thousands of mourners roamed through Damascus’ main commercial districts with mourners shouting the “people and the army are one,” “we don’t want Bashar” and “the people want to topple the regime.” At one point, 250 security officers tried to attack the mourners . But protesters persevered and the demonstration continued for a while longer, until a larger contingent of security officers finally showed up and managed to disperse most of the mourners before they reached the cemetery of Bab Al-Saghir: , , , . This is the martyr Khalid Fakhani . This is another funeral that started in Midan and roamed parts of central Damascus, the martyr is Amer Bazzazeh , , this is how the funeral began this is the martyr Amer Bazzazeh , . Both martyrs were victims of sniper attacks as they took part in protests on Wednesday. In the evening, the Midan District witnessed new vigils and protests after the Night Prayer for the 4th consecutive night: , ,

Idlib City: protesters face army troops after Night Prayers chanting “the people want to topple the regime” and “the army and people are one,” but no clashes take place ,

Al-Rifai Mosque / Kafar Sousseh: , . Protesters get locked inside the Mosque .
Saqba: the womenfolk take an oath to remain true to the Revolution, even after the arrest of so many of their men
Madaya: army troops raid the city and conduct dozens of arrests. The same happens in the nearby town of Zabadani.

Stadium Street: protesters come under fire
Bab Al-Sibaa , protesters come under fire
Talbisseh Nigh-time protests , , . Tanks pass trhough Talbisseh on the way to Hama City .

Jarjanaz: the poet Tarek Doughaim throws down his glove in Assad’s face: “Die of frustration or under our shoes, it’s your choice”
Ma’arrat Al-Nouman

Deir Ezzor
Deir Ezzor City: despite the siege and ongoing military crackdown, protesters still take to the streets in certain neighborhoods after Night Prayers  

Nawa: collective punishment practices continue. The motorbikes of local residents get crushed by a tank

Lattakia . At dawn, protesters come under fire
Aleppo / Izzaz offers another martyr
Al-Raqqah / Tabaqa City
Al-Qamishly , yesterday the event turned bloody when security forces opened fire
Hama / Kafar Zita