21 March 2011
Syria Update: Intensity Of Protests Rise, Buildings Burnt As Mourners Call For Revolution
No state is seems is on safe ground in the Middle East as one of the most repressive regimes in the region, Syria, faces a growing protest movement.
From a modest start when 40 protesters took the streets, only last week, a protest that was quickly broken up by government supporters, to now where 10,000 people have taken to the streets, with a strong voice of change, calling for the end of the Ba’ath Party 48 rule over the nation.
Much of the unrest comes in the southern Syrian town of Daraa which has become the home for the past 6 years to 1000’s of people displaced from eastern Syria due to a water shortage, which is believed to have been worsened by the Government.
Yet it was not the latest trigger for the protests but the violent way in which demonstrators were dealt with over the past three days.
It was the deaths of 4 people last Friday at the hands of the Government security forces that have led for to today’s calls: “Revolution, revolution. Rise up Hauran.”
A funeral procession, following the simple wooden coffins was carried through the streets carrying two of the men who died, Mahmoud al-Jawabra and Wissam Ayyash lead the thousands calling for the end to President Bashar Assad 11 year rule over the nation, a position he took after the death of his father in 2000.
The following Sunday crowds once again poured into the streets, this time sending a strong message to the Government in Damascus as the headquarters of the ruling Ba’ath Party was burnt to the ground as well as a business owned by President Assad’s cousin, a man who has been accused by Washington of corruption.
Once again the government response was swift with live ammunition being sprayed into the crowd. At least one more person is known to have died, many others injured.
“The Syrian government has shown no qualms about shooting dead its own
citizens for speaking out,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch.
While Daraa has been the center of the main uprising, at least 150 people bravely took to the streets of the nation’s capital, Damascus last week.
It’s a daring move for any opposition to be vocal in Syria, with countless reports of the political figures being jailed, sometimes tortured.
In a review of the decade of President Bashar Assad rule the Human Right Watch organization has raised grave concerns about the treatment and repression of the Kurdish minority, that political opposition figures have ‘disappeared’, the denial of free speech and the torture of civilians.
How the world responds to the growing protests will be interesting to see. As US, French and British forces bomb strategic regions under the control of Gaddafi, in Libya, including the capital Tripoli, will the United Nations ever consider similar action in Syria?
With it’s near neighbor and friend Iran it would a far more difficult intervention.
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