Sunday 8 April 2012

The bravery of ordinary Syrians. This young woman stands in the middle of a street, outside parliament in Damascus with a sign saying: “Stop the killing, we want to build a country for all Syrians”.

To claim that a bunch of men waving their guns around and killing each other is a superior way of achieving a ‘Free Syria’ is ridiculous. That only achieves death, polarization and destruction. (Thanks Matvey Raskolnikov)

[Comment: Every day there are numerous videos on Facebook and reports in the media about what is happening in Syria and what people think about it.  On this webpage, we post just a few. It is sometimes difficult to know what exactly is happening and who is doing what to whom, but there is no doubt that Bashar al-Assad has sent his tanks and heavy ammunition to kill civilians and destroy their homes and businesses, and this needs to stop. We support a nonviolent solution to this problem and urge everyone’s support for the work of Kofi Annan in trying to find a solution].

English Speakers to Help The Syrian Revolution: ARIHA: IDLEB: Destruction of shops and dwellings from 2 days of Regime shelling and storming….
Idlib 08 04 2012 

Damascus Suburbs: Arbeen: The regime’s army announces a nightly curfew from one of the minarets.

Aleppo: Despite the security presence, an evening demonstration started in the Bustan Al-Qasr district in front of the Badr Mosque in solidarity with the disaster-stricken cities.

Homs: The regime’s army is violently launching shells at the Bayyada neighborhood

British Syrians & Friends in Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution: ( 8/04/2012 ) Video shows a side of the clashes between elements of the military regime’s army and free Syrian Army fighters in the neighborhood of Al-Qsoor in the city of Homs 8/04/2012.

 8 4 Homs

English Speakers to Help The Syrian Revolution: ALJAZEERA: Compilation of activist videos…. honouring the work of the videographers…. and Assad, whose ego knows no bounds, basically now calling Annan a liar….
 Syria wants ‘guarantees’ for troop pullout

Qamishlo: Lawyer Hassan Yousef Al-Turbeh was arrested in Qahtanyeh town by a detachment of State Security

We are all Hamza Alkhateeb: Syrian Christians and Muslims staged and protest in front of Al Midan Church, the second oldest church in Damascus celebrating Easter (Passover). Protesters lifted the banner of ” The Syrian blood is ONE” 842012… The Jasmine Revolutionists in cooperation with Revolutionary Visions


Idlib: Jesr Al-Shughour: Random Shelling on Bushairyeh Village and Burning Homes:

Deir Ezzor: Bokamal: Heavy gunfire is reported along the road to the Omari school.

Idlib: Maaret Nouman: A general strike takes place throughout the town in solidarity with the disaster-stricken cities

Daraa: Hirak: Demonstration Condemning the International Stance on the Massacres Taking Place in Syria

Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre: ?”Last week, Assad accepted a ceasefire agreement brokered by the UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan calling for government forces to withdraw from towns and villages by Tuesday, and for the government and opposition fighters to lay down their arms by 6am local time on Thursday.

English Speakers to Help The Syrian Revolution: This footage, uploaded by Syrian activists on April 8, 2012, depicts soldiers loyal to the Assad regime mocking and defiling the bodies of Syrian protesters …
18+++++ Published for evidence and explanation: With apologies for the extremely graphic nature and language of this video….. but it must be published…… It is horrific…. and it reveals the extreme psychopathy now the norm in the supporters of the Syrian Regime which should fill the world with fear for the future…. and a reminder that the psychology of this behaviour is continuing depravity and blood lust…… each day the world waits, this gets worse…. But in a statement released on Sunday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jihad Makdissi said that earlier reports that Damascus would pull its troops from cities and their suburbs by Tuesday were “wrong”, according to the Associated Press news agency.”  … and …

British Syrians & Friends in Solidarity with the Syrian Revolutionvia Saqr Omia:This footage, uploaded by Syrian activists on April 8, 2012, depicts soldiers loyal to the Assad regime mocking and defiling the bodies of Syrian protesters or rebels (their identity is not known). It was purportedly filmed in the town of Inkhil, Dera’a province, on April 3, 2012.
Assad’s Soldiers Defiling Corpses in Inkhil, Syria [Warning: Extremely Graphic]

English Speakers to Help The Syrian Revolution: JOURET AL SHIYAH: Homes burning…… just in case the media want to say ‘purporting to be’ a very recognisable skyline from this angle…….

An appeal to the international community – The legitimate rights of Kurds in Syria must not be ignored

The recent events in the Syrian National Council are concerning, where the majority of the Kurd members have withdrew from the Council as their demands were ignored. The Kurdish demands in Syria after the fall of Assad’s regime are the following:
1-Reforms to ensure equality between all the national and religious components of the Syrian people.
2- Permitting political pluralism.
3- Formation of a national assembly and a commission for all the Syrian components to participate in drafting a new constitution for the country on a democratic basis, to guarantee the recognition of the multi-nationality and multi-religion; and ensuring public freedoms, particularly freedom of opinion, expression and media. Moreover, ensuring the practice of the political pluralism, separation of powers, and the development of a modern law for elections and political parties. Furthermore, building a state based on federalism and political decentralization. The new constitution must protect the fundamental rights of the ethnic and religious minorities. A public referendum would legitimatize the constitution and approved it.

4- The democratic and just solution of the Kurdish issue within the framework of the country’s unity, and on the following basis:

– Recognition of the right to self-determination for the Kurdish people in Syria.
– Ensure the participation of the Kurds in the political and economic life of the country.
– Ensure the return of all displaced Kurds to their homes.
– The compensation of the Kurd peasants whom have been stripped of their land and property, and whom have been expelled from their areas forcibly by the state.- Lifting the Arab Belt project, by which the Kurd peasants have been stripped of their land, and their land were given it to farmers recruited from other areas and built their settlements in the Kurdish areas.
– Constitutional recognition of the Kurdish people national and cultural rights in Syria.- To allow the practice of the Kurdish language and the opening of schools and universities teach in Kurdish.
– Giving citizenship to those being stripped of it, and the recognition of all their rights like other citizens.
– Development of the Kurdish areas which suffer from deliberate neglect by the Authority.

The demands and legitimate rights of the Kurds are still ignored, and this clearly shows the Turkish influence and impact over the Syrian opposition. In the beginning of the revolution against the Syrian regime persecution and humiliation of the people, Turkey has interfered as a mediator in the Syrian crisis, and then it tried to play the role of supporting the opposition. The stance Turkey is taking is not to spread democracy in the region, however it is to strengthen its influence and its regional role. Turkey fears that the Kurds will be key players in the new Syria, which is supposed to be a democratic state, and it further concerns that the role played by Kurds in Syria would reflect on Turkey’s Kurds, too. Therefore, the Syrian Kurdish opposition views the growing role and influence of the Turkish government over the Syria National Council with suspicion. The international community and European countries must work to prevent the marginalization of the minorities’ rights in the new Syria, because the country will not develop or settle without the constitutional recognition and protection of the rights of Kurds and other minorities in the country. Therefore, the Kurdish opposition needs to be supported in its efforts for democracy and ensuring the rights of the Kurdish people in Syria.

For any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Jian Badrakhan – Second Chairman

YASA e.V. – Kurdish Centre for Legal Studies & Consultancy

REUTERS: Annan says Syria violence “unacceptable”, breaks guarantees

International mediator Kofi Annan said on Sunday an “unacceptable” escalation in violence inSyria violated guarantees made to him and called on Damascus to keep its promises to end the bloodshed.

The special envoy for the United Nations and Arab League urged both Syrian forces and opposition fighters to halt all forms of violence by 6 a.m. Damascus time (11 p.m. Eastern Time) on April 11, in line with his six-point peace plan agreed on March 27.

“I am shocked by recent reports of a surge in violence and atrocities in several towns and villages in Syria, resulting in alarming levels of casualties, refugees and displaced persons, in violation of assurances given to me,” Annan said in a statement issued by his Geneva office.

Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad shelled an area in the rebellious province of Idlib near the border with Turkey on Sunday, killing and injuring dozens of people, opposition activists said.

Each side has accused the other of intensifying assaults in the run-up to the truce.

A peace plan drawn up by Annan requires Assad to “begin pullback of military concentrations in and around population centers” by April 10 for a truce to start 48 hours later. But that looks in doubt with each side accusing the other of intensifying assaults as the deadline approaches.

“As we get closer to the Tuesday 10 April deadline, I remind the Syrian government of the need for full implementation of its commitments and stress that the present escalation of violence is unacceptable,” Annan said.

“This is a time when we must all urgently work towards a full cessation of hostilities, providing the space for humanitarian access and creating the conditions for a political process to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people,” he said.

Syria said on Sunday it wants “written guarantees” that insurgents will stop fighting before it pulls back troops under a peace plan agreed by President Bashar al-Assad, casting fresh doubt over a truce that is due to happen this week.

Annan’s statement made no reference to the Syrian demands.

“I am in constant contact with the Syrian Government and ask all States with influence on the parties to use it now to ensure an end to the bloodshed and the beginning of dialogue,” he said.

The former U.N. Secretary-General, who held talks in Moscow and Beijing late last month, has announced plans to go to Tehran on April 11 for talks with senior Iranian officials. Iran is a key ally of Syria in the region.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Karolina Tagaris)

Pope, in Easter message, backs Syria peace planVATICAN CITY – A fatigued-looking Pope Benedict threw his weight behind a United Nations plan to end bloodshed in Syria in his Easter Sunday message, calling for “an immediate commitment” to peace efforts there.

BBC: Fears grow for Syrian peace deal

Doubts grow about the planned ceasefire in Syria after the government makes a new demand and rebels say they believe the deal is doomed to fail.

As fighting raged, Damascus demanded written guarantees from the rebels to end attacks and a promise from foreign governments not to fund or arm them.

The rebels said they had already given their word to stop fighting if government forces did so too.

Their commander said he believed the UN-brokered truce would fail.

The ceasefire, negotiated by UN envoy Kofi Annan as part of a peace plan, is due to begin this coming week after government troops pull back from populated areas.

An opposition body, the Syrian National Council, said it believed the government’s new demands were a ploy by President Bashar al-Assad to reject the peace plan.

More than 9,000 people have been killed in the uprising against Mr Assad’s rule which began more than a year ago.

As many as 160 people were killed on Saturday, many of them said to be civilian victims of shelling by government forces, and fierce new fighting was reported on Sunday.

‘Plan to fail’

Damascus issued its two new demands just 48 hours before the deadline for the Syrian army to withdraw from towns and cities.

In doing so, it has thrown the entire ceasefire deal into doubt, the BBC’s Grant Ferrett reports.

Ceasefire timetable

  • 10 April: Government must withdraw troops and heavy weapons such as tanks from towns, cities and villages
  • Following 48 hours: Ceasefire to be implemented on the ground with the onus on the opposition to follow the government’s lead
  • 06:00 local time on 12 April: All forms of violence must be stopped on all sides
  • Next step: All parties to hold talks on a political solution

The Syrian foreign ministry said it did not want the rebels to exploit any troop withdrawal to reorganise and rearm themselves.

Foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said: “Syria has a plan for military pullback already in place and being implemented, but completing and achieving the main goal would definitely require the guarantees from the other side and those supporting them.”

A spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) told Reuters news agency that the FSA would cease fire in line with the UN plan.

“But if they [Syrian government forces] fire we will pick up arms again and fight them,” Col Qassem Saad al-Deen added.

Also speaking to Reuters, FSA commander Col Riad al-Asaad said his forces had not been asked to given any written guarantees.

“We have given our word that if the regime commits to the plan then we will too,” he said. “We are honest.”

He added: “The regime will not implement this plan. This plan will fail.”

Mr Annan said in a statement on Sunday that “the present escalation of violence” was unacceptable.

‘Mortar rain’

Details were impossible to verify independently but heavy fighting was reported on Sunday across Syria.

Kofi Annan: “I am shocked by recent reports of a surge in violence”

Dozens of people were killed or wounded when government tanks shelled areas in the province of Idlib, near the border with Turkey, activist Mahmoud Ali told Reuters by telephone.

He said the areas of al-Rouge and al-Bashiriya, where FSA fighters were surrounded, were under attack.

In the central city of Homs, government forces dropped mortar rounds on the rebel-held neighbourhood of Khaldiyeh, activist Tarek Badrakhan told the Associated Press news agency by skype.

“Mortar rounds are falling like rain,” he said, as explosions were heard in the background.

Forty bodies were piled in a room in a makeshift hospital, he said, and activists were trying to keep the bodies cold by directing a fan toward them.

“We might have to bury them in public gardens,” he said.

Guardian: Syria peace plan doubt as Assad refuses to meet deadline for troop withdrawalDamascus wants written guarantees that rebels will lay down their arms before it will proceed with Kofi Annan-brokered deal …

Pope implores Syrian regime to end bloodshed in Easter message8 Apr 2012: A tired-looking Pope Benedict XVI also prayed for peace around the world and for Christians suffering because of their faith.

Syrian troops launch fresh assaults before ceasefire deadline: Activists report major Syrian army offensives in the north and centre of the country ahead of scheduled pullback on Tuesday.

UK ‘exporting surveillance technology to repressive nations’: 7 Apr 2012: Fears that software similar to that which government wants to use in Britain is being sold to monitor dissidents abroad