Monday 27 June 2011

A statement by the orgnizing committee of Erbil Demonstration against the crimes against huamnity perpetrated by Al Assad

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
The International Committee of the Red Cross

Since 15 March, 2011 Syrians have demonstrated peacefully calling for freedom and democracy. However, Al Assad regime has confronted the peaceful demonstrations with disproportionate violence using gunshot, arbitrary arrest, torture, and killing under torture. In addition, the forces of Al Assad have besieged and attacked cities, towns and villages plundering and burning houses. As a result, more than 1700 were killed, thousands were wounded, and more than 14 thousands have been detained. The repression of the regime has forced thousands of civilians to head towards the neighboring countries seeking refuge, mainly in Turkey and Lebanon.

The flagrant violations perpetrated by Al Assad regime might be classified as crimes against humanity. The regime has carried on using violence perpetrating such crimes despite the fact that Syria is member of many international covenants and conventions of human rights including the two covenants of 1966 and the convention of 1984 against torture and ill-treatment in addition to all other covenants and conventions ratified by the United Nations.

We call the United Nations, the international organizations of human rights, and the defenders of democracy and human rights to join their voices to ours in order to call the International Security Council to condemn the crimes against humanity perpetrated by Al Assad regime.

We hope that the international community will act according to its responsibilities in protecting civilians in Syria.

Organizing Committee of the Demonstration of 27 June, 2011 in Erbil

Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre
SUMMARY (27/6/2011): There was a meeting of the Syrian opposition inside Damascus today. With all due respect to some of those who attended, they showed they are out of touch with the mood on the streets where people have been making big sacrifices. Already protesters have rejected this conference’s statements. Today’s map is dedicated to the victims of the Tadmur Prison Massacre, 27th June 1980.

Syria – Monday 27/06/2011
Hama (27/6/2011): As more than 300 students in Aleppo were being charged for taking part in protests, the students in Hama staged a large protest march. You can see several signs in English: ” We want freedom” and “Children of Syria to Russia, China, Brazil, India, Lebanon and South Africa – Please stop killing us” Hama, 27/6/2011

This video was made by Walid Qashami, a member of the Syrian Republican Guards who defected 2 months ago. He fled to Jordan but he has now begun a hunger strike to protest against how the Jordanian authorities are blocking his movements and not allowing him to talk to the media. He is asking for help from the embasies of other countries because he is effectively under house arrest. Walid Qashami, 26/6/2011

Lattakia: Statement 3 from the residents of besieged neighborhoods in Lattakia

Again.. We, the residents of the besieged boroughs in Lattakia, and after false news regarding calls for the army to intervene in our city were broadcasted on Al-Dunia TV, we confirm that these news broadcasted by the Syrian media (the media that lacks even the minimum credibility criteria) are completely false.

Therefore, we would like to re-stress our refusal for any army intervention under any excuses, such as the claims that armed gangs exist in our city or any such false excuses. In addition, we call for an end to all the military aspects inside the cities, by returning the army units back to their barracks and dedicated military sites.

On the other hand, we insist on our rights in carrying out peaceful demonstrations, despite all the pressure that has been exerted on us, on our families and children, by the regime by all the repressive means of terrorising, intimidating and disrupting our lives. We will just not give up now because of the foolish attempts by the Syrian media, supported by the now illegitimate regime, to fabricate news!!

We believe that the peaceful, civilized nature of our revolution is the only way to achieve our goals.

Long life free Syria, may our martyrs rest in peace.

Lattakia Coordination Committee, part of the Local Coordination Committees in Syria

A statment from the residents of Kesweh

We, the people of the city of Kesweh in Damascus, announce our resolve and determination to continue our peaceful revolution against the criminal, corrupt and dictatorial regime. And we stress to the proud Syrian people that we will not betray the blood of our martyrs, who sacrificed their wellbeing for the sake of our freedom and the freedom of our sons and daughters, and that we remain steadfast in covenent we made to them and marching in their path.

In this regard, we like to extend our condolences to the families of the heroic and honorable officers who were shot dead by the treacherous hands of the security forces in the city of Kesweh on a Friday of The Fall Of Legitimacy when they refused to execute orders to fire live bullets at peaceful protesters from the city of Kesweh and ended up dying as martyrs.
When the Syrian media have focused on only one martyred officer from the city of Yabroud it was an attempt to conceal the crime he committed against other fellow officers who refused to complicit in the killing of their countrymen by following orders.

We strongly hold that the Syrian regime is systematically lying. The regime has killed officers and then participated the funeral of one of them in Yabroud; they have accused the people of Kesweh of killing him to cultivate strife among people of the same country.

The truth is that Assad’s security forces have stormed the city of Kessweh, arrested a lot of its youth, planted weapons with them and filmed it to make it appear as if it was seized from them, as it is the habit of deceit and journalistic prostitution of such media.

And residents of the city of Kesweh underline that there are no weapons in the city and that our revolution was, is and will remain peaceful. And we call upon our brothers in Yabroud to get out in support of their fellow Syrians, in affirmation of the unity of our own destiny, for the sake of their hero martyr and to reject the lies of the regime and its media tools. We trust that in them.

Qamishli 27.6.2011: Youth groups and Kurdish groups marching at 8pm for regime change
Barzeh 24.6.2011: Continuing brutality by state security

NOW! Lebanon
[local time] 22:13 A protest broke out Monday night at the Mansouri Mosque in Jablet al-Qassam calling for the fall of the regime. (The Syrian Revolution 2011)
A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Monday night in Qamishli shows protesters holding candles and rallying in the city’s streets, calling for the fall of the regime.
Protests broke out in Rastan and the majority of streets in Hama on Monday night calling for the fall of the regime. (S.N.N.)

21:40 A protest broke out in al-Tal in Damascus district on Monday despite the arrests made by the security forces during the day. (F.N.N.)
21:02 A protest broke out in Qamishli on Monday night calling for the fall of the regime. (F.N.N.)
21:02 A protest broke out in Baba Amrou, calling for the fall of the regime. (S.N.N.)
20:48 A US lawmaker strongly opposed to US military involvement in Afghanistan and the Libyan conflict is on a “fact-finding” visit to Syria and Lebanon, his office said Monday.
19:29 A top US lawmaker pressed President Barack Obama on Monday to recall the US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, saying his presence only served Damascus for “propaganda purposes,” AFP reported.
18:31 Security forces are patrolling the city of Darayya and randomly arresting people. (S.N.N.)
17:51 A protest broke out in Jable on Monday calling for the fall of the regime, the number of participants is increasing. (The Syrian Revolution 2011)
17: 14 Syrian President Bashar al-Assad spoke Tuesday of the legitimate demands of his people during a meeting with visiting US congressman Dennis Kucinich, SANA state news agency said.
17:06 Security forces raided the city of Qaseer and arrested many protesters. (S.N.N.)
17:04 Syrian regime, opposition, to talk on July 10, AFP reports.
14:47 A YouTube video posted on Monday shows members of the Syrian diaspora in Venezuela chanting in support of anti-regime protests in Syria. They are also calling President Bashar al-Assad “despicable.”
14:03 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Monday in the Homs neighborhood of Khalidiyeh shows dozens of people marching in protest against the regime.
13:39 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on June 24 in the Damascus neighborhood of Baraza shows dozens of Syrian soldiers beating several unarmed civilians. The soldiers can be also seen bundling one person into the trunk of a car.
13:26 WARNING: Viewer discretion advised An extremely graphic YouTube video purportedly filmed on Sunday in the Houran town of Jeeza shows a mutilated body of a boy allegedly killed under torture. The 15-year-old boy, Tamer Mohamad Alsharee, was arrested on April 29. Torture marks can be seen on his corpse. Syrian security forces allegedly broke Alsharee’s arm, neck and shot him. The people filming the video are calling on the international community to “intervene in order to protect Syrian detainees.”
13:07 Security forces have been arresting people in the town of Darayya – located near Damascus – since Monday morning. (S.N.N)
12:41 More than 100 dissidents heard calls for a peaceful transition to democracy at a public meeting in Damascus, which they said was unprecedented in five decades of Baath Party rule, AFP reported.
12:00 Turkish officials informed several western powers that Turkey might launch a military operation in northern Syria in an attempt to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad’s Baath Party, Kuwaiti newspaper As-Seyassah reported.
11:27 The number of Syrians taking refuge at tent cities in Turkey has decreased to 11,122 after several hundred people went back home, Turkish officials said.
9:49YouTube video purportedly filmed Sunday night in the Homs neighborhood of Bab ad-Drib shows hundreds of people gathered chanting against the regime.
9:45YouTube video purportedly filmed overnight in the Homs neighborhood of Khalidiyeh shows dozens of anti-regime protesters swearing that they will not renounce the anti-regime uprising.
9:43YouTube video purportedly filmed Sunday night in Hama shows dozens of people marching and chanting against the Syrian regime.
9:41YouTube video purportedly filmed overnight in the Homs neighborhood of Bayyada shows dozens of protesters chanting, “The people want to bring the regime down.”
9:30 A YouTube video purportedly filmed on Sunday night the Hama area of Dawar Qitza shows hundreds of anti-regime protesters marching and chanting, “God is the greatest.”
9:29 Security forces on Sunday night set crops on fire in Kaswa, which is near Damascus. (S.N.N)
9:29YouTube video purportedly filmed overnight in the Edleb district town of Binnish shows dozens of protesters marching and chanting, “[President Bashar] al-Assad has lost legitimacy,” and, “Syria wants freedom.”
9:27YouTube video purportedly filmed Sunday night in Hama’s Assi Square shows hundreds of people chanting against the regime.
9:25 A YouTube video purportedly filmed Sunday in the Homs neighborhood of Deir Baala shows dozens of people chanting against the regime.
9:23YouTube video purportedly filmed on overnight in Deir az-Zour shows many people gathered as they are calling for bringing down the regime.
9:21YouTube video purportedly filmed Sunday night in Aleppo shows several people marching in the street and chanting, “God is the greatest.”
9:20 A YouTube video purportedly filmed overnight in the town of Kaswa, which is near Damascus, shows thousands of people marching and chanting against the regime.
9:18YouTube video purportedly filmed on Sunday night in Latakia shows dozens of protesters chanting, “The people want to bring down the regime.”
9:17YouTube video purportedly filmed on overnight in Daraa shows protesters marching in the streets and chanting, “The regime was brought down in Daraa,” and “Syria is free.”
9:00 Security forces randomly arrested people on Sunday night in Qaseer, a town near Homs. (S.N.N)
8:00 Syrian troops pushed toward the Lebanese border as they pressed a deadly crackdown in central towns ahead of Monday’s opposition meeting in Damascus on the country’s unrest, activists said.
7:33 President Bashar al-Assad may have gone so far in his crackdown on pro-democracy campaigners that there is no way back, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Sunday.

CNN report – video:

GUARDIAN: Syrian army defector says he was told to shoot unarmed protesters
During a month stationed in Deraa, neither Wasid nor any of his fellow conscripts saw a single armed demonstrator

Wasid, a young Syrian conscript, set off for the town of Deraa in late April filled with the zeal of a soldier going to war. “We were going to fight terrorists,” he said.

But less than a day after arriving in Deraa, Wasid was making plans to defect.

The Syrian regime has cast the uprising as a conflict between a loyal military and a large and highly mobile group of heavily armed foreign-backed insurgents, roaming the country attempting to ignite sectarian strife.

Over three hours in an Istanbul safe house, the 20-year-old soldier described events in the southern town where the wave of dissent that has swept Syria first broke out. The young defector’s account starkly contradicts the official narrative.

“As soon as we got there, the officers told us not to shoot at the men carrying guns. They said they [the gunmen] were with us. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It had all been lies.”

In the month they were stationed there, neither Wasid nor any of his colleagues saw any demonstrators with weapons in Deraa or the nearby town of Izraa.

And instead of confronting armed insurgents, the unit was given orders to shoot protesters.

“I could not believe what I was hearing – to leave alone the people carrying guns. It shocked me,” he said. “We are soldiers and soldiers do not shoot at civilians.”

In the weeks leading up his deployment with the Syrian army’s 14 division, commanders had given regular briefings on the “violence” ahead. Wasid was convinced he would soon be in combat.

“When we were at the base in Damascus before we left for Deraa, we were not allowed to watch television at all, except for two hours each day when we could watch Rami Makhlouf’s channel,” he said [Makhlouf, a tycoon, is president Bashar al-Assad’s first cousin].

“All they showed were armed groups roaming the villages. I found out later that these groups were on our [the regime’s] side – they were the Shabiyeh.”

According to Wasid, the Shabiyeh – ghosts – were the only civilian gunmen in town. Their group has strong links to the military and has developed a reputation over recent bloody months of being willing to do dirty work in troublesome towns and villages.

“The first day we arrived there, 24 April, the Shabiyeh came to the base to speak with our officers. It was clear that the relationship was close.”

Wasid showed the Guardian his military ID and application for refugee status, copies of which have been kept.

He does not want his real name or photograph used out of fear that his family may be targeted for reprisals.

After many weeks of military crackdowns, the government is now on a diplomatic and media offensive.

Officials are pushing their version of events to a few correspondents who were last week allowed to enter Syria for the first time since March.

The official account has given particular emphasis to claims that Sunni Islamic groups have either initiated or hijacked the uprising’s agenda.

“I never saw an Islamist or anybody that resembled one,” said Wasid. “And nor did anyone else with me.”

He estimated that about 30% of his unit were disaffected with the military.

But neither dissent nor defection are easy in Syria, where conscripts are paid $9 (£6) each month.

“One guy – I only know his name as Wael, he was from the east – told an officer that what we were doing was wrong. The next day he was killed. They said he had been shot by terrorists.”

Nevertheless, by 25 May, Wasid and 20 others had mustered the courage to attempt to escape.

He ditched his military fatigues – and the sniper rifle which he had never used – and ran with the group to the highway, where a van took them to Damascus.

“Once we got there, we agreed we would go separate directions. I stayed in Damascus for three days and then left for Turkey. I don’t know where the others went.”

He crossed the border in the Kurdish northeast of Syria and made his way by bus to Istanbul, where the UNHCR and rights group Avaaz are providing him with help.

Wasid’s testimony will be used in a referral to the international criminal court being prepared by another group, Insan.

Four other defectors from Deraa have made their way to Amman in recent days and are also briefing investigators.

Defections have been regularly reported during the uprising, but on a small scale.

Apart from the apparent mutiny of half a base in the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour (where Syrian officials claim soldiers were massacred by terrorists), none of the defections have been large enough to pose a threat to command and control of the army.

Wasid says his anger is directed not at the government, which he believes betrayed him, but at his army colleagues who stayed behind despite also seeing what he had seen in Deraa.

“There were around 100 people each week killed there. They were civilians.

“If I see my colleagues again, not only will I tell others what they have done, but I will find their families and tell them too. And then I will hurt them.”

• The Syrian government announced that it will hold talks on 10 July to set the framework for the national dialogue promised by President Assad. The state news agency said constitutional amendments, including changes to an article which puts the Ba’ath Party at the centre of Syrian politics, would be on the agenda of the meeting. Assad met US congressman Dennis Kucinich and Conservative MP, Brooks Newmark, but details of what was discussed was not available.