Dominic Browne reports on the atrocities committed by the regime of President Assad in Syria prior to a heroic day of defiance taking place in the country today.
A “massacre” has taken place in the Syrian city of Daraa, during a ten day siege of the city by government forces, according to human rights groups.
In this clip ( reported to be from Daraa) you can see crowds protesting despite the crackdown. They chant: “We take death over humiliation”.
Troops have now been withdrawn from the southern city and BBC News 24 reported yesterday that soldiers were washing blood from the streets in time for UN inspections following an appeal to President Bashar al-Assad from UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon.
This collective punishment is a result of anti-government protests which have met with crackdowns described as “barbaric” by the US. At least 500 people are reported to have been killed in the country since protests began.
One man who escaped the siege told Human Rights Watch (HRW):
“The city had no food, water, or medical supplies coming in and that residents had resorted to storing corpses in food refrigerators running on diesel, which was in limited supply.”
One resident of a village near Daraa, told HRW that:
“The military deployed snipers and heavy machine guns all around the city. They fired on anyone approaching. I spent three days in al-Naima and heard the sound of heavy gunfire from inside the town the whole time.”
This clip (reported to be from Damascus or Barzeh) from May 3rd shows a man amongst security officers firing at protesters with a rifle as they chant: “The people want to topple the regime”.
The Damascus Bureau blog reports:
“Over the last weeks more than 8000 people have been randomly arrested and tortured.”
They also report that along with Daraa, Duma near Damascus and Banyas at the coast are also under siege .
Today is the 56th day of protest across the country. In a planned ‘Syria’s Martyrs’ Day, a Friday of Defiance’, the Syrian people will once again call for freedom and democracy, and protest against the appalling atrocities committed by their government. In response troops have taken up positions across the suburbs of Damascus.
While the world’s attention has been elsewhere of late and NATO forces are pinned down in Libya, the Syrian regime knows that it can act with military impunity in killing its own people.
The bullish words from US secretary of state Hillary Clinton are very welcome. International disgust has to be stated now, and as loudly as possible. As Clinton said:
“We have to show the Syrian government there are consequences for this brutal crackdown imposed on the Syrian people.”
She also welcomed moved by the European Union to join Washington in imposing sanctions.
At the moment, military action outside of air strikes looks impossible, and may be even more bloody than the initial crackdowns as government forces, positioned as they are civilian areas, would be impossible to target without massive civilian casualties.
But the world must do whatever it can to tell Damascus that we know what it is doing, and it will not be forgotten or forgiven until justice is done and democracy granted to the people of Syria. And never let it be said, in the face of the heroic democratic defiance of another Muslim majority nation, that democracy is not a universal right and a universal desire of all peoples, including the peoples of the middle east.
For footage and videos on the protest we recommend the following two youtube channels:
Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.