Posts Tagged ‘ 2011 Protests in Syria ’

More than 100,000 protest against Assad during funeral of Kurdish opposition figure

Saturday, 08 October 2011

By AL ARABIYA AND AGENCIES

More than 100,000 Syrians rallied against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday during the funeral of Mishaal Tammo, a Kurdish opposition figure slain the previous day, Abdessalam Othman, of the Kurdish Future Movement in Syria, told Al Arabiya.

Othman said security forces in civilian clothing randomly opened fire on demonstrators, killing five and wounding dozens.

Earlier, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that more 50,000 people were participating in the Tammo’s funeral.

Protesters also took on the streets in the northern eastern cities of Amouda and al-Dirbasiya.

In the central city of Homs, roads were blocked to prevent protesters from demonstrating and communication was cut.

Gunmen shot dead Tammo on Friday in his home in the east of the country, activists said.

Rami Abdel-Rahman, head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said four gunmen entered the house in Qamishli, shooting Tammo dead and wounding his brother, Reuters reported.

The opposition Local Coordination Committees said Tammo “was killed on Friday at his home by unidentified men. His son as well as female activist Zahida Rashkilo were wounded.”

The official SANA news agency reported “the assassination,” but gave a different account of Tammo’s death. It said he was killed “by gunmen in a black car who fired at his car.”

Tammo founded the liberal Kurdish Future Party, which considers the Kurds to be an integral part of Syria.

He was a member of the newly formed opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) and had been released recently after spending three and a half years in prison.

Tammo’s killing sparked indignation at home and abroad.

The United States said Assad’s regime is escalating its tactics against the opposition with bold, daylight attacks on its leaders, while France said it was “shocked” by the news of the murder.

“This is a clear escalation of regime tactics,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters, referring to reports of Tammo’s murder, as well as the beating on Friday of former MP Riad Seif.

Nuland said both opposition leaders were attacked in broad daylight.

France condemned the regime’s “brutal violence” in its crackdown on the opposition.

“We are shocked by the assassination of opposition figure Mishaal Tammo… and by the attack on opposition figure Riad Seif,” a foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement.

Seif, a former lawmaker, had to be given hospital treatment after being beaten outside a mosque in the capital’s commercial neighborhood of Medan.

Before the news of Tammo’s killing, a prominent Sheikh from the opposition was killed.

Source: al-Arabiya.

Link: http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/10/08/170791.html.

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Syria braced for Friday protests as unrest enters 7th month

Sep 16, 2011

Cairo/Beirut – Syria deployed tanks and army units across the country ahead of expected demonstrations on Friday, as the pro-democracy protests against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad entered their seventh month.

With the slogan ‘we are continuing until we bring down the regime,’ Syrian activists were planning to protest after Friday prayers, a traditional time for demonstrations.

‘We will not stop no matter what kind of brutal means this regime uses against us,’ Omar Idlibi, a spokesman for activist group The Local Coordination Committees, told the German Press Agency dpa.

Meanwhile, Syrian security forces continued large-scale searches for defectors, also in areas around the northern Lebanese-Syrian border.

A Lebanese man was wounded overnight by shots fired across the border in the Akkar region, hours after Syrian troops mistakenly shot at a Lebanese army unit in the area.

The Lebanese National News Agency said Ahmad Zeidan Ahmad was wounded by gunfire that struck homes in the Lebanese village of Kenayseh.

On Thursday, 15 soldiers from the Syrian Army briefly crossed into Lebanon while in pursuit of people ‘fleeing’ into the same area of Akkar.

‘A Syrian Arab Army patrol entered Lebanese territory at Mounseh in the north, crossing 200 meters into Lebanese territory while pursuing people who were fleeing over the border,’ said an army statement.

It added that a military vehicle was damaged by gunfire from inside Syria, and that the two armies were following up the incident.

Several hundred Syrian refugees and defectors have fled to areas in northern Lebanon and especially Akkar since anti-government protests started in mid-March.

An estimated 2,600 people have been killed in Syria during the government crackdown on protesters.

Source: Monsters and Critics.
Link: http://news.monstersandcritics.com/middleeast/news/article_1663317.php/Syria-braced-for-Friday-protests-as-unrest-enters-7th-month.

Gulf states condemn Syria ‘killing machine’

11 Sep 2011

Gulf Co-operation Council calls for “serious reforms” and end to bloodshed as fresh violence and arrests are reported.

The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) has called for “an immediate end to the killing machine” in Syria, and reiterated its demand for government reforms.

Ending a meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the six foreign ministers of the Gulf Arab states issued a statement calling for an end to the crackdown on anti-government protesters and urging “the immediate implementation of serious reforms that meet the aspirations of the Syrian” people.

Last month, the GCC called on the Syrian leadership to “resort to wisdom” and stop the bloodshed.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain recalled their envoys from Damascus to protest against President Bashar al-Assad’s use of force in the uprising against his family’s 41-year rule.

Qatar shut its embassy after it was attacked by Assad loyalists in July.

The United Nations estimated on August 22 that more than 2,200 people have been killed since protests began in March. Scores have been reported killed in the following weeks and Syrian activists now put the death toll closer to 3,000.

In the latest reports of bloodshed, activists said a woman was killed near the Iraqi border on Sunday.

“A 40-year-old woman was killed at noon on Sunday by a stray bullet as security forces were tracking wanted people in the town of Albu Kamal,” the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights cited an activist in Deir al-Zor province as saying.

The Observatory also said a 17-year-old boy died of wounds sustained a day earlier when security forces fired at a funeral for Ghayath Matar, an activist who reportedly died from torture in prison.

Raids ‘intensifying’

Protests were reported in several towns on Sunday and the Local Co-ordination Committees said security forces used gunfire to disperse demonstrations in Albu-Kamal and in Quseir and Talbiseh in the central Homs governorate.

Witnesses and activists also said Syrian forces had stepped up raids across the country to arrest activists.

In the town of Hirak in Deraa province, Ahmad al-Sayyed, a resident, told Reuters that troops had detained at least 250 people in the village of Jeeza, 40 in Museifra, 50 in Busra al-Harir and 30 in Naimeh in the last 48 hours.

“They shoot in the air before they begin raids. They then drag young men and use electric sticks to beat them up and haul them away to detention centers,” he said.

Earlier on Sunday, France’s foreign minister said the UN’s failure to condemn the actions of Syrian security forces against protesters was a “scandal”.

Alain Juppe also stepped up pressure on Russia to support a Security Council resolution saying it was too late for political reforms in Syria, as Russia has called for.

“We think the regime has lost its legitimacy, that it’s too late to implement a program of reform,” Juppe told reporters.

“Now we should adopt in New York the resolution condemning the violence and supporting the dialogue with the opposition,” he said.

“It’s a scandal not to have a clearer position of the UN on such a terrible crisis”.

The developments come after Nabil el-Araby, the head of the Arab League, said he had reached an agreement on reforms with Assad during talks in Damascus on Saturday.

Russia, a UN member with veto power, has resisted international attempts to condemn the violence and refused to back Western calls for Assad to quit.

The Syrian authorities blame what they describe as terrorists for the bloodshed and say hundreds of members of the security forces are among the dead. Opposition activists also acknowledge the deaths of of about 500 security personnel.

Source: al-Jazeera.
Link: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2011/09/2011911192321627917.html.

Syrian expatriates form Europe-wide opposition movement

Sep 10, 2011

Vienna – Syrian expatriate organizations from 15 European countries declared themselves in opposition to President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday and formed a joint movement in Vienna.

The new Union of Syrians Abroad called for the ‘toppling of the Syrian regime and for the creation of a democratic multi-party state’ while stressing the principle of non-violence and its opposition to foreign military intervention.

It also called on Syrian embassies to distance themselves from the current government, Austrian broadcaster ORF reported.

The Union plans to support opposition members in Syria and those who flee abroad.

It represents expatriates in Austria, Britain, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and Ukraine.

Late last month, some opposition activists founded a National Transitional Council in Turkey, modeled on the one formed by Libyan rebels.

Protests calling for political reforms began in mid-March and developed into calls for the ouster of al-Assad.

The United Nations has estimated that more than 2,200 civilians have been killed in the government’s violent crackdown.

Source: Monsters and Critics.
Link: http://news.monstersandcritics.com/middleeast/news/article_1662138.php/Syrian-expatriates-form-Europe-wide-opposition-movement.

Syrian forces remove wounded from hospitals: HRW

ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY | AP
Friday 9 September 2011

BEIRUT: A leading human rights group says Syrian security forces have “forcibly removed” 18 wounded people from a hospital in the restive central city of Homs.

Human Rights Watch cited reports from witnesses, including doctors, in its report that was released late Thursday.

The accusations stem from a military siege in Homs on Wednesday, when activists said at least 20 people were killed.

The New York-based rights group also says Syrian security forces prevented medical personnel from reaching the wounded in the city that day.

The UN estimates that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s crackdown has killed some 2,200 people since the country’s uprising began in March.

Source: Arab News.
Link: http://www.arabnews.com/node/390355.

Syria: Lies and slurs for those who dare to challenge Ribal and Rifat Assad

– Chris Doyle
Sunday, 04 September 2011

Global Arab Network – Well you know, when you have a go at Ribal or Rifat Assad that they will resort to anything, such is their record. (Rifat has apparently plenty of loyal well paid thugs in his entourage).

So a few days after having campaigned against the holding of an Eid reception hosted by an MP promoting Ribal’s Iman organization (if you can call it that as there no semblance of a board, accounts or where it is registered, but photos of Ribal and his MP friends) my wife Rim and I get slagged off in an online article (if you can call it as such) in Arabic and English. It is highly defamatory in practically every word.

It has not been a pleasant week. The Conservative Member of Parliament who is hosting the event, Daniel Kawczynski, instead of answering why he his promoting an apologist for crimes against humanity, has written to both our employers. Rim was called in to meet with her head of department at Imperial College, who far from chastising her as Daniel hoped, asked her if she wanted protection. Daniel called me various things on the phone including that I was a “raving lefty and a communist”.. It seems he is taking lessons from the Assad family in making threats and intimidating critics.

I wrote back in July against Ribal when an MP gave him a platform to speak in Parliament, not just because it was so offensive generally, but also as the regime was pulverising Hama at the time making it doubly insensitive.

I also, as can be seen on my Twitter account @doylech, lobbied against Ribal’s event coming up this Wednesday. Caabu issued a press release on Friday. Huge pressure has been applied by Syrians and Syrian human rights organizations taking up the issue protesting to MPs and even Ministers. Ribal’s cozy relationship with a select few MPs, some of whom he has funded to go to the Middle East, is now under threat. Ribal of course acts as the front man for his father, as his arch apologist-in-chief. Ribal comically told Channel 4 News that his father had been a democrat since the 1970s, something that will appall all those killed, injured, tortured, and brutalized when he was at the top of the regime and running its notorious special forces. His great defense of his father was that he could not have ordered the shelling of Hama in 1982 which killed over 10,000 people as he was in Damascus at the time, as if his presence on the spot was required for him to give the order to his special forces.

It remains a disgrace that Rifat is roaming free in luxury throughout Europe living off his ill-gotten gains, and that his sons are excusing his behavior and polishing his image. It is a crazy world where the EU is sanctioning regime officials inside Syria but seem incapable of taking any action against Rifat and others .

So this is the background to the slurs in this article. They add up to nothing but strangely echo nonsense that both Daniel Kawczynski said to me on the phone and were also written in the comments section of my Guardian article. I am in no doubt that this is not a coincidence.

It is a bizarre set of accusations for a start barely worthy of writing about. Apparently according to the unknown author, Rim’s intervention on BBC women’s hour sounded like apologists for Iran when discussing women. (a non-hijab wearing wife of a British husband acting as a puppet of the Iranians!!) The interview was back in the early days of the protests, and the point of the program was to examine why it seemed not so many Syrian women had participated. She mentioned Mothers’ appearing on TV talking about their being children killed. She makes clear that these demonstrations were very, very risky for women.

Rim must be the only Syrian women not to know how terrible the situation is on the ground. Contrary to this rant, Rim has every idea how angry Syrian society is, she is part of it, with family on the ground with friends all over the country. I have had to comfort her daily as news of friends being arrested, tortured or killed have come in but above all, as her country that we love lurches into a dangerous and unknown future, with a regime that seems to know no limits to its brutality.

Before the protests, we have been involved in doing what can to help Syria, whether by promoting development, encouraging reform, and also promoting Syrians and Syrian culture that has been so often been denigrated in the West. Indeed I have spent 20 years doing little else but working against the demonization of Arabs in the West. We hoped, like so many others, that Bashar just might bring about some reforms. It was a faint hope but we clung to it. Those hopes have been dashed once and for all.

So during these years we helped with various organizations devoted to helping Syria. We set up a small charity, one of the first international NGOs to operate in Syria. Gulf Sands Worldwide not its Syria branch (not Rami Makhlouf who I lobbied to get sanctioned) donated to the Damask Rose Trust, a UK-based charity. Neither of us knew that Makhlouf was a shareholder of Gulf Sands in Syria at the time, but the donation was of no benefit to him nor us. Even today I am not sure just where Makhlouf has tucked away his extraordinary wealth that he has stolen from the Syrian people. I confess I may have bought one of his mobile phone SIM cards, and perhaps used one of his airport taxis, as there is little choice of course.

Rim and I are proud to be Trustees of the Damask RoseTrust that has done fantastic work in difficult conditions to help the deprived in Syria, set up a hotline for victims of domestic violence and supported rural communities. We make no apologies for that. I am proud of her role in setting up the Syrian Professional Women’s Association, an organization here in the UK, devoted to assisting Syrian professional women. I am also proud of what she did whilst involved some years ago with the British-Syrian Society (BSS). She took on some major successful cultural projects but felt she had to step down from the BSS, some time ago. Her cultural work was based on her passionate interest in Arabic and Islamic culture – she has recently curated a major exhibition at the Royal Society.

Our efforts pale into insignificance compared with those on the ground who risk their lives on a daily basis. We shall continue to assist in whatever small way we can.

It is a pity that @all4syria has allowed itself to be abused by Ribal Assad and his family. This does little to help the future of the Syrian opposition (Ribal has no interest in genuine opposition of course), which neither Rim nor I would ever dare to claim we represent, is crucial. Working together for a free and democratic Syria has never been more important. That there are those who seek to undermine all of this shows just how scared the Assad family is. That there are a handful of British MPs who collude with Ribal Assad is a shame on Westminster…

Source: Global Arab Network.
Link: http://www.english.globalarabnetwork.com/2011090411860/Opinion/syria-lies-and-slurs-for-those-who-dare-to-challenge-ribal-and-rifat-assad.html.

Marching across Syria, chanting to topple the regime

– Talal Abdullah
Tuesday, 06 September 2011

Global Arab Network – Syrian soldiers opened fire in and around the rebellious city of Homs on Tuesday, killing two people, including a teenager, as the U.N. secretary-general urged the world to take action on Syria.

Also, the bodies of five unidentified people, including a woman, were found around the city center, activists said.

15 Demonstrators were killed on Monday in the central city of Homs and the northern province of Idlib, according to Mahmoud Merhi, head of the Arab Organization for Human Rights. Security forces also carried out a “major assault” on Monday on the town of Nawa, near the southern province of Daraa where the uprising began in March, Merhi said by phone on Tuesday.

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Arabi will visit Damascus on Wednesday, Egypt’s state-run Middle East News Agency reported, without saying how it got the information. The visit takes place in the wake of expanded sanctions by the European Union in response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on dissent.

In the northwestern province of Idlib, Adelsalam Hassoun, 24, a blacksmith, was killed by army snipers on Monday just after he had crossed into Turkey from the village of Ain al-Baida on the Syrian side, his cousin told Reuters by telephone from Syria.

“Abdelsalam was hit in the head. He was among a group of family members and other refugees who dashed across the plain to Turkey when six armored personnel carrier deployed outside Ain al-Baida and started firing their machineguns into the village at random this morning,” Mohammad Hassoun said

Thousands of families fled their homes in the northern border region in June when troops assaulted town and villages that had seen big protests against Assad.

Faced with a heavy security presence in central neighborhoods of Damascus and Aleppo, and military assaults against a swathe of cities from Latakia on the coast to Deir al-Zor in the East, street rallies calling for an end to the Assad family’s domination of Syria have intensified in towns and villages across the country of 20 million.

Demonstrators have been encouraged by the fall of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and growing international pressure on Assad. The European Union has imposed an embargo on Syrian oil exports, jeopardizing a major source of revenue for Assad, who inherited power from his father, the late Hafez al-Assad, in 2000.

“Economic pressure will be key in swaying the merchant class toward the side of the uprising, but Assad will keep adopting the military solution and deploying heavy weapons across Syria,” said Syrian dissident in exile Bassam al-Bitar.

“International intervention, something akin to a no-fly zone, will still be needed to protect protests and encourage more members of the army to defect,” Bitar, a former diplomat, told Reuters from Washington.

Source: Global Arab Network.
Link: http://www.english.globalarabnetwork.com/2011090612080/Syria-Politics/marching-across-syria-chanting-to-topple-the-regime.html.

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