// Syria releases all protesters jailed in past month
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BrKhalid
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« on: Mar 25, 2011 09:21 AM »


Asalaamu Alaikum bro

Amidst all the news surrounding Libya and the earthquake, there are uprisings still afoot in Yemen and here in Syria.

2011 really is shaping up to be a defining year.



Syria releases all protesters jailed in past month


President Bashar Assad's government yesterday announced the release of all activists detained in Syria this month and said it may scrap an emergency law in place since 1963, after a week of protests in the south that have seen a reported 100 people killed.

"Under a directive by President Bashar al Assad, all those detained in recent events have been freed," state television reported.

A London-based rights group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, confirmed the release of all detainees arrested in Daraa, a city 100 kilometres south of Damascus that has emerged as the hub of the demonstrations.

The news comes hours after presidential adviser Buthaina Shaaban said the ruling Baath party had agreed to study the possibility of lifting the emergency law and announced a string of other reforms, including pay rises for state employees and possible licensing of political parties.

Pro-Assad demonstrators immediately took to the streets of Damascus, honking their horns and waving Syrian flags as well as pictures of the president and his father, Hafez al Assad, who came into power in 1970.

Syria, the latest Middle Eastern country to witness an uprising against a long-running autocratic regime, has been hit by unprecedented protests demanding major change after almost five decades of rule by the Alawite-controlled Baath party

The demonstrations began this month in Damascus but have been largely contained in the capital.

They broke out in force instead in Daraa, where activists reported more than 100 people killed on Wednesday alone in clashes with security forces.


Ms Shaaban, who described protesters' demands as "just", on Thursday put the over Daraa death toll during the week at 10.

She said Mr Assad had chaired a meeting of the Baath, which agreed to look into a new media law granting "greater transparency and freedom" and was forming a committee to discuss with Daraa residents the week's events and to sanction those responsible.

"Every decision that is being made has taken into account the people of Daraa," she said.

"There are some demands and we will respond to these demands. Some of it will be very quickly. Some of it might take time and discussions.

"If there is a legitimate demand by the people then the authorities will take it seriously, but if somebody wants to just cause trouble then it is a different story," she warned.

Daraa itself resembled a ghost town late yesterday, with all shops and schools closed as thousands of soldiers and anti-terrorism units patrolled the streets.


Entrances to the city remained sealed off, with vehicles granted access having to negotiate separate checkpoints manned by armed plain-clothes forces.

The city's Omari mosque, where protesters had been holed up for a week, was also void of protesters, an AFP photographer reported.

Some authorities in Daraa have said the demonstrators were Salafists, an austere branch of Sunni Islam.

Activists have accused security forces of using live rounds against demonstrators in Daraa, where a doctor who had taken cover in an ambulance and an 11-year-old girl were reportedly among the victims.

The report could not be independently confirmed, but AFP reporters witnessed sporadic shooting in the town on Wednesday.

The United States, which had condemned the crackdown along with France, Britain and the United Nations, on Thursday said it was still waiting to see action from Syria.

"Words are words. We'll obviously look for action," Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, told reporters after the announcements in Syria.

"We were and obviously remain deeply troubled by the violence and civilian deaths, especially in Daraa at the hands of security forces," Toner said. "We're going to see what happens on the ground."

Earlier, Protesters had called for demonstrations across Syria today in what was going to be a major test of the government's strategy to crush dissent and prevent it from spreading.

http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/syria-releases-all-protesters-jailed-in-past-month

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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« Reply #1 on: Mar 26, 2011 08:56 PM »

Syria next? I'm so saddened by the gov't just killing people all over. I remember how beautiful and peaceful Lattakia was, and other amazing historical places like the Ummayad Mosque, which are now such scenes of violence. Sad Syria's regime does not play around. There really is no pressure on them from the Western world like with threats of taking away foreign aid. So what incentive do they have not to treat their civilians like non-humans and expendable in order to oppress and supress?? Why do people have to die for change to be brought about?? So sad...
 

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In Syria, Tension and Grief After Protests and Official Retaliation

New York times

CAIRO — Attacks against offices of the ruling party in southern and western Syria erupted on Saturday, as mourners buried the dead and President Bashar al-Assad tried to promote calm by ordering the release of as many as 200 political prisoners.

After more than a week of protests and 61 confirmed killed by government forces, there appeared no certain path forward for protesters, who had also erupted in angry demonstrations around the country on Friday, or for the government, which has offered words of compromise while simultaneously unleashing lethal force.

“People are afraid,” said a prominent religious leader from a community at the center of the conflicts, who is not being identified to protect him from reprisal. “People are afraid that the events might get bigger. They are afraid there might be more protests.”

On Saturday, two demonstrators in the coastal city of Latakia were killed after protesters set fire to the local headquarters of the ruling Baath Party. Ammar Qurabi, the chairman of the National Association for Human Rights, cited two witnesses who said they saw special forces open fire into a crowd.

In the southern village of Tafas, near the protest movement’s epicenter in Dara’a, mourners also set fire to the local Baath headquarters.

One Latakia resident reached by telephone said 10,000 to 15,000 antigovernment protesters from the city and surrounding villages, some armed with knives, machetes and clubs, had taken to the streets. “The demonstrations have been peaceful, but after the violence yesterday protesters brought weapons,” the resident said.

The sun rose over a landscape of grief as mourners set out for funerals in the southern towns of Sanamayn and Dara’a; in Latakia; in the central city of Homs; and in the suburbs of Damascus. In each place, demonstrators had been killed hours earlier, shot by government forces in the most violent government oppression since 1982, when the leadership killed at least 10,000 people in Hama, a city in the north.

Exact numbers of the dead are hard to determine, as the official government news service denied the authorities’ culpability in new reports blaming criminal gangs.

“In some villages there were 10 or 15; in some villages there were around 20 or more than 20,” the religious leader said.

The protesters, he said, want “freedom and their rights; they were making demands from the government for things to get better here and for an end to the state of emergency.”

Pro-government demonstrators were out, as well, in Damascus, where about 200 people drove around the city on Saturday evening in a convoy of cars, trucks and minibuses. They carried portraits of President Bashar al-Assad and his father, former President Hafez al-Assad, and chanted “We are national unity” and “With our soul and with our blood, we will redeem you, Bashar.”

Speaking to BBC Arabic, a government spokeswoman, Buthaina Shaaban, denied that government forces had opened fire on protesters, blaming instead foreigners and an armed group of villagers. “We arrested outsiders in Syria charged of opening fire on the crowd,” she said. “They stole weapons. The authorities did not shoot protesters but an armed group from Sanamayn.”

There have been protests around Syria since the start of the tumultuous movement for change that has shaken the Arab world with peaceful protest and conflicts approaching civil war. But the political crisis blew wide open about a week ago when demonstrators took to the streets in Dara’a after the police arrested a group of young people for scrawling antigovernment graffiti, hauling them away without notifying their parents.

Syria is a resource-poor nation with great strategic regional influence because of its alliances with Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah, and its location bordering Israel, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. But it also struggles with a fragile sense of national unity amid sectarian tensions between its rulers, all members of the minority Alawite religious sect, and a Sunni majority. It also still clings to a pan-Arab Baathist ideology.

“The events are developing and succeeding each other rapidly all over Syria,” Abdel Majid Manjouni, assistant chairman of the Socialist Democratic Arab Union Party in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, said in a telephone interview. “They are going from city to city, and the ruling party is not being successful in its attempt to block the protests or the demands for democratic change in the country.”

The Syrian crisis has in many ways followed a similar course as those in Tunisia and Egypt, which ended with the resignation of the presidents.

In Syria, there have not yet been widespread calls for the president’s departure, though as the anger mounts in the wake of the deaths, that view has started to emerge.

“I am calling him to go to the television,” said Ayman Abdel Nour, a childhood friend of the president’s now living in the United Arab Emirates. “The people still respect him; first, he must deliver his condolences face to face to the people. No. 2, he must say there will be a multiple party system, a free parliamentary election in two months from now.”

Mr. Qurabi, the chairman of the human-rights group, said that in all, more than two dozen were killed on Friday, including 20 in the tiny southern village of Sanamayn, 4 in Latakia, 3 in Homs and 3 in the greater Damascus area. Mr. Qurabi blamed live ammunition for all of the deaths on Friday, although details for much of the violence in Syria remain unclear.

“The protest in Sanamayn was very, very, very big,” said Mr. Qurabi in a phone call in Cairo, where he is now attending a conference. “They killed them in the streets because there is not even really a square for the people to protest in.”

Those in Syria were far more reluctant to speak, including one young man who said he had been detained by the police for three days after talking to the news media. “I was talking about the news of the protest with some reporters,” he said in a phone call to Damascus. “The police came for me at about 11:15 on Tuesday morning and took me off the street in front of my house. My phone calls are monitored, and I don’t want to say anything over the phone.”

An employee of The New York Times contributed reporting from Damascus, Syria.
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« Reply #2 on: Apr 19, 2011 10:41 AM »

Asalaamu Alaikum bro

With all the news surrounding Libya at present, Syria seems to be running below the radar but latest reports suggests things are far from calm.



Syria protests: 'Armed insurrection won't be tolerated'

Syria's government says unrest in the country's third-largest city, Homs, and in the northern city of Baniyas amounts to an armed insurrection.

The warning came after thousands of demonstrators occupied the centre of Homs on Monday, vowing to stay until the president was ousted.

Witnesses say security forces fired on the protesters in Homs and there are reports the square was cleared.

Rights activists say about 200 Syrians have been killed in weeks of unrest.


President Bashar al-Assad announced on Saturday he would end nearly half a century of emergency rule next week, while the authorities have also been releasing political prisoners, both key demands of protesters.

But Syria's unprecedented wave of unrest shows no sign of abating, says the BBC's Kim Ghattas in Beirut, neighbouring Lebanon.

In a statement late on Monday, the interior ministry said: "The course of the previous events... have revealed they are an armed insurrection by armed groups belonging to Salafist organisations, especially in Homs and Baniyas."

It warned "their terrorist activities will not be tolerated".

Salafism is a strict form of Sunni Islam which many Arab governments equate with militant groups like al-Qaeda.

Our correspondent says this means the authorities will crack down on dissent under the pretext of fighting terrorists.

At least 5,000 demonstrators occupied Clock Square in Homs on Monday after mass funerals for at least 12 protesters slain by security forces at the weekend.

'Square cleared'
 
Checkpoints were set up around the square to ensure people coming in were unarmed civilians, and protesters stocked up on supplies.

 
One protester said it had been renamed Tahrir Square, after the one in Cairo which was the focal point of the uprising that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Witnesses said that security forces told them through loud-hailers to leave, before firing tear gas then live ammunition.

"The sit-in was dispersed with force. There was heavy gunfire," an activist in the capital Damascus told AFP news agency by telephone.

An activist in Homs told AP news agency by telephone: "They shot at everything, there was smoke everywhere. I saw people on the ground, some shot in their feet, some in the stomach."

The official Sana news agency has also been reporting on events in Homs.

It said three army officers including a brigadier-general, together with his two sons and a nephew, were killed on Sunday by "armed criminal gangs", which then mutilated the bodies.

The northern town of Baniyas also saw anti-government protests on Sunday.

Demonstrations against the authoritarian rule of Mr Assad's Baath Party spread after breaking out in the southern city of Deraa in mid-March.

The unrest poses the gravest to his rule since he succeeded his father Hafez al-Assad 11 years ago.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13124591

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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