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.



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 Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.

Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More