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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs