News / Middle East

At Least 32 Killed in Syrian Protests Against Regime

An image taken from footage uploaded on YouTube by the Shams News Network (SNN) shows a Syrian anti-government protester holding a piece of paper which says in Arabic 'Friday of Prisoner Freedom, Hama, July 15, 2011' on a rooftop above thousands of people
An image taken from footage uploaded on YouTube by the Shams News Network (SNN) shows a Syrian anti-government protester holding a piece of paper which says in Arabic 'Friday of Prisoner Freedom, Hama, July 15, 2011' on a rooftop above thousands of people
Margaret Besheer

Four months after anti-government demonstrations began in Syria, tens of thousands of protesters marched Friday demanding the release of scores of people jailed during the uprising and calling for an end to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Witnesses and activists in several towns reported that security forces fired at protesters, with at least 32 killed and several more injured.

In an appeal issued over the Internet site Facebook, activists called on Syrians to take to the streets to mark a day of “freedom of the prisoners”.

Many heeded the call. Large turnouts were reported in several Syrian cities including Homs, Hama, Daraa and this one in the northern Damascus suburb of Harasta.

Thousands of young men in the town could be seen in a video posted on YouTube carrying banners calling for freeing prisoners marched defiantly down narrow streets alongside a long, unfurled Syrian flag.

Human Rights Watch's Emergencies Director Peter Bouckaert spoke with VOA by Skype from Geneva. He says HRW estimates some 17,000 people have been detained since the uprisings began exactly four months ago.

“There is very little information about their fate in custody," said Bouckaert. "The families have not been told where they have been taken. And from those who have been released it is a very dire picture. We have documented many cases of torture and very brutal beatings, in what are now extremely over-crowded detention facilities.”

Western nations have turned up the pressure on President Assad to stop the government's bloody crackdown on protesters and implement promised reforms.

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that the Syrian leader is not “indispensable.”

While the U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, in an interview published Thursday, called on President Assad and his government to “take hard decisions” and move toward reform or, he warned, "the street will wash them away".

Last Friday, Ambassador Ford and his French counterpart attended a large demonstration in the flashpoint city of Hama, angering Syrian authorities and leading to retribution from a pro-government mob on the U.S. and French embassies.

In the wake of those events, HRW's Bouckaert said the Syrian government has told foreign diplomats they are no longer allowed to travel outside Damascus without permission.

He adds that the government's efforts to intimidate protestors is not working.

“From what we are seeing the momentum is still building, in terms of the number of people who are coming out to these protests, the amount of cities which are involved in the protests, and also the fact that protests and now very much spreading beyond the usual Friday protests and also taking place on other days," he said.

President Assad's regime says the military crackdown is aimed at armed “terrorist” groups and infiltrators, not innocent civilians. Human Rights Groups say more than 1,600 protesters have been killed since the pro-democracy rallies began. Most foreign media has been banned from the country, making independent verification of reports difficult.

Meanwhile, across the border in the Jordanian capital, Amman, police armed with batons roughly dispersed demonstrators demanding government reform in their country.

The unrest erupted after hundreds of people took to the streets, where they urged the government to meet their demands for change. At least 10 people were wounded in the confrontations.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 M by 2015

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid