News / Middle East

Syrian Americans Support Pro-democracy Movement in Syria

Chicago attorney and human rights activist Yaser Tabbara
Chicago attorney and human rights activist Yaser Tabbara

Multimedia

Kane Farabaugh

Syrians outside of Syria are finding ways to help support the pro-democracy movement in their country.

Until recently, Chicago attorney and human rights activist Yaser Tabbara was welcomed in Syria for helping to develop the education system in the land of his birth.  Now he is considered an enemy of the state.

“My name has been circulated on Syrian media as a pro-American traitor," he said.

That notoriety stems from Tabbara's efforts to encourage international pressure on President Bashar al-Assad's government. Tabbara has pushed for a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the crackdown in Syria.  And he has prepared a case for the International Criminal Court to charge the Assad regime with crimes against humanity. “And what we argue is that the more unified the international community [gets] behind the idea of deligitimizing Assad and his regime and isolating him economically, diplomatically, politically, the more reinforced the pro-democracy movement on the ground becomes," he said.

Illinois State University Political Science Professor Yusuf Sarfarti says that kind of international pressure has limited effectiveness without continued strife inside Syria. “The most important thing is the internal pressure.  So without the internal pressure, without people taking on the streets, without people in Syria demanding change, there won’t be any change," he said.

But Sarfati says outside help will encourage the pro-democracy movement in Syria to continue. “The change has to come from the Syrian people like it happened in Egypt with the people power.  But, of course, they can always use international allies.  They can use them for getting certain aid.  They can use them for technology.  They can use them for organizing their own protests to get at least the psychological support from the outside world as well," he said.

That is precisely the role of Chicago physican Ammar Bayrakdar. He supports Syrian demonstrators on Facebook, and has researched ways to get information out of Syria. “I cannot really give you detail, but one of them I can tell you is a camera that can be put as a Bluetooth and can record without the government actually coming after them.  That’s helping get the word out to the international community," he said.

Dr. Bayrakdar is a member of Chicago’s large Syrian American community.  He says speaking out against the government in Syria or organizing demonstrations is not common for his people. “We’re Assyrian.  We were never active in politics.  That’s the way we were raised, unfortunately.  When we came to this country, we figured out how democracy and how freedom of speech and freedom to assemble. So even when we come here, there is a major fear that if we do anything, that something might happen to our family or even us when we go back home," he said.

But outrage at the crackdown in Syria is replacing that fear.  More than 500 demonstrators gathered recently in Chicago to criticize the Assad regime.  And as the strife in Syria continues, the more angry and mobilized Syrians outside the country become.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid