News / Middle East

Syrian Activists Call for 'Dignity Friday'

In this image obtained by AFPTV from YouTube on March 23, 2011, Syrian protesters run for cover from tear gas during a recent but undated demonstration in the southern town of Daraa. AFP could verify that the pictures were shot in Daraa.
In this image obtained by AFPTV from YouTube on March 23, 2011, Syrian protesters run for cover from tear gas during a recent but undated demonstration in the southern town of Daraa. AFP could verify that the pictures were shot in Daraa.

Multimedia

Audio

The Syrian government is offering citizens greater freedoms and reforms, including possibly ending the emergency law that has been in place for more than four decades.

Meanwhile, democracy activists have used social-networking sites to call for massive demonstrations across the country on Friday, a day they dubbed 'Dignity Friday'.  One cyber activist based in Damascus goes by the online name Malath Aurmran.  He spoke to VOA’s David Byrd about the situation in Syria, and his hopes for Friday’s demonstrations.

Byrd: Malath, first of all the situation in Daraa seems to be denigrating and getting worse day by day.  Have you actually been there, and if so. what was the situation?

Syrian Activists Call for 'Dignity Friday'
Syrian Activists Call for 'Dignity Friday'

Malath Aumran: Well, actually I have not been there but I have been in Damascus, and I am always calling my friends there on mobile phone...and I am witnessing things going on where I am from, you know? And what’s going on there, actually everything there started last Friday when people went out of the mosque cheering for freedom and asking for releasing political prisoners and then police attacked them [inaudible] and so that’s how it started and it still continues until now.  

The second day police also attacked them and left people dead and many wounded. So they turned the mosque into a field hospital because they couldn’t go to the government hospital.  And many volunteer doctors took part to treat people inside the mosque.  And people from Daraa just created a shield surrounding the mosque, a human shield surrounding the mosque to protect people wounded inside.  Because [inaudible] went to get them.  And this event, this is how it started, and it still continues until now. And we are witnessing now, like every day, every day, every day, police attacking protesters and they are following [inaudible] and YouTube Videos, and it’s like - it’s a massacre down there.

Byrd: There were reports that as many as 15 people were killed on Wednesday.  Is that accurate according to what you have heard?

Malath Aumran: Actually we are not sure about numbers. We cannot really confirm numbers, we would not start to count the people whom I talk to, the local people are saying that everybody around the mosque was either killed or wounded.  Now we cannot really confirm anything but many people are dead.

Byrd: The protests in Daraa started when people were asking for reform and for the government to help. There’s been drought in that area.  But the response has been pretty heavy handed.  What are people saying in Damascus?

Aumran: Actually last Friday it started in five cities in Syria. And all the people at all the events they said ‘we need freedoms, stop martial law, release political prisoners'.  The demands we are really seeking is to stop the emergency law, we need freedom, we need liberty, release political prisoners.  We are hearing every day about hundreds of people getting arrested all around Syria.  Now this is the demand.

Byrd: Friday is scheduled to be similar to the protests that marked Tunisia and Egypt. What are you expecting for Friday? Are you expecting people to turn out en masse? Have you been getting good support and how are you finding out?

Aumran: We don’t know. We hope, and I think in my opinion that this Friday is going to be a big day in Syria because we will work in all cities in Syria and so they [the public] saw what is really happening there [in Daraa].  They saw people asking for freedom and they [soldiers] just firing for that.  We hope that tomorrow all Syria will be in the street. I would not be so optimistic, you know, but the change has begun. The structure really is now in process in Syria, many things are changed and [that’s] why we cannot go back.

 

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

You May Like

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill 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.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs