Saturday, April 2, 2011

Syria arrested 21 people following protests suppressed shot yesterday

Despite calls from the U.S. and the UN to cease the repression of public protests in Syria, Bashar Assad regime continues to carry out arrests of opponents. A human rights group has denounced today the arrest of 21 people in connection with the demonstrations that took to the streets yesterday to tens of thousands of people around the country, some of which security forces opened fire killing at least three dead (Other sources put the count up to 9 or 10).

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in a statement gave the names of 21 detainees, four in the city of Dera, the southern city where the protests began and where repression in recent days caused dozens of deaths, and 17 in Homs, north Damascus. "We assume that their arrests are the result of the recent protests," the organization said.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and the White House condemned the crackdown on the demonstrations yesterday, and have asked the Syrian government to respect human rights. Ban expressed "deep concern over the situation in Syria, where he reported new civilian deaths in recent demonstrations" and called for "immediately stop" the violence against peaceful protests, according to his spokesman, Martin Nesirky .

Meanwhile, the U.S., including during the tenure of George W. Bush to Syria within the "axis of evil", said that "violence is not the answer to the complaints of the people", according to Jay Carney, spokesman for the U.S. president, Barack Obama. "The Syrian government has an important opportunity to meet the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people," he added.

Tens of thousands of people returned to emerge across the country yesterday with the news that the protests spread to the Kurdish communities in the Northeast. President Bashar Assad on Wednesday accused a "foreign conspiracy" to promote unrest with the intention of destroying Syria and was defiant: "If they want war, they will have." The worst riots were in the capital, Damascus and its suburbs.

In the call for a Friday of the Martyrs by the opposition, to honor the dead since the start of the revolt (at least 70 according to humanitarian organizations, according to the Government about thirty), security forces set up cordons police around the mosque and demanded documentation to those who entered them.

Eyewitnesses quoted by Al Arabiya stressed the abundance of plainclothes police and snipers on rooftops. The checks on mosques, both in Damascus and Deraa had been in days past the start point of the protests, did not prevent thousands of people congregate to scream "freedom is not a conspiracy" and "the blood of martyrs is not cheap.

" In Douma, a suburb of Damascus, the police charged those attending prayers at the Grand Mosque. Witnesses quoted by Associated Press reported that after an assault with batons and tear gas, security forces used their firearms. Witnesses said there were three dead and dozens injured, and that after the incident Douma streets were deserted.

Police also broke up with batons and gases resulting from the demonstration Rifaii mosque in the neighborhood of Kfar Souseh Damascus. In the Umayyad Mosque in the center of the capital, thousands of people gathered with portraits of Bashar al-Assad and Syrian flags, to shout the slogan adopted on Wednesday by supporters of the regime: "God, Syria, Bashar" .

The police protected the event and there were no incidents. In Deraa, near the Jordanian border, and Latakia on the Mediterranean coast, the two cities where protests were more numerous in recent days and where repression was particularly brutal, repeated demonstrations against the regime.

The official Sana news agency first referred to the demonstrations in Deraa and Latakia, but said that pass peacefully and without incident. Witnesses quoted by the BBC indicated, however, that in Deraa police used tear gas. The Northeast, with a special presence of the Kurdish minority, had been kept quiet until now.

Yesterday saw the first rallies against the regime and Hassakeh Kamishli, two towns in the region. Participants used the slogan the phrase "Syria is a" to allay the fears of the Sunni majority of the Kurds Syria might use the crisis to raise sectarian or separatist demands. In his eagerly awaited speech Wednesday, El Assad said his primary task was not to reform the regime, but to ensure "stability and security" of the country.

The president insisted that the winds of foliage that ran the Arab world and the protests in Syria, which he attributed to an Israeli conspiracy, would not alter their resolve. The following day, official sources announced the creation of a commission to study possible reforms (which has been studying since 2000, when El Assad succeeded his father) and an eventual lifting of the state of emergency in force since 1963.

Neither the firmness shown by Bashar al-Assad and the umpteenth suggestion that the reforms were on the way managed to appease social unrest, caused both by the revolutionary example of countries such as Tunisia and Egypt as economic decline and lack of political freedoms in Syria . Yesterday's demonstrations showed that the scheme could not gain control of the situation.

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