Thursday, June 23, 2011


In recent days it has emerged that the Syrian protests are being repressed by violent military crackdowns, from the towns to the country. The activists and Muslim Brotherhood factions continue to coalesce in the streets despite the prohibitory injunctions of the incumbent government and despite the military assault operations conducted in key rebel areas. In its assessment of the crisis so far, humanitarian groups say that the armed forces have marched through towns and villages, razing buildings, shooting indiscriminately and burning down fields. In a recent report, Syrian refugees in a camp on the Turkish border were attacked as they made their way through a forest to an adjoining village to get provisions. The local owner of the shop providing the daily necessities to the refugees was shot dead by the forces and the forest separating the camp from the village was burned down to prevent any further exchanges. The burning of farms, fields and forests has become the modus operandi of the Syrian military, who firmly stand behind Assad, the president for decades under emergency laws, whose father, also president, was responsible for the massacre of ten thousand people in a town that saw active pro-democracy protests in his time.

Assad this week offered to lift the emergency laws governing the country for decades and offered to allow opposition groups to function openly. Yet, the protests continue unabated. The people realize that his concessions aimed at a faux democracy are grossly inadequate.

On the other hand, Israeli, a long-standing hostile neighbour, has expressed its desire to see the current regime off. It remains uncertain on the issue of the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, as does the United States. Russia and China, which have strong military associations with the regime, are firmly opposed to the pro-democracy movement and have threatened to protect Assad's interests if the matter comes to the UN Security Council.

In the same climate of repression, Bahrain yesterday indicted several pro-democracy Shia opposition members and sentenced a number of them to life-terms in prison for their "attempted coup" against the Sunni ruling family. Human rights activists must move the international community against the medieval injustice of the Bahraini regime. Its startling that the US and Saudi Arabia, so active on the Libyan front, have actually been party to the injustice and repression in Bahrain.

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