Earlier this month I blogged about a demo outside the Syrian embassy in London, and how some of the Syrians who attended had travelled hundreds of miles to get there. It was, as people always say in these circumstances, quite humbling (I’d come down the road from my bit of north-east London, no great sacrifice).
The point was that these people – about 50 or 60 of them – had come to this corner of central London to voice their outrage at the relentless killings, “disappearances” and torture in Syria. They were also showing their defiance toward a Syrian government that has even harassed and threatened people like them who’d been protesting overseas.
Since then things have spiralled further downwards in Syria. The regime in Damascus continues to stage pro-Assad rallies, but they come against a backdrop of more and more killings of protestors, especially in Homs where the death toll has been horrendous.
Analysts are speculating that defections from the Syrian army are beginning to morph into a “nascent armed insurgency”, a situation that could take violence in the country to a whole new level. For the time being though we’re essentially talking about protesters showing incredible bravery and resilience as they regularly turn out on the streets in their thousands, especially on Fridays.
Taking their chances with the army snipers, the tanks, and with Syria’s notorious Military Intelligence service the Mukhabaraat, these protestors are also increasingly aware that if they end up in a hospital they will still be at risk of torture or of being “disappeared” into secret detention, even as they lie in their hospital beds (see the recent report on this from Amnesty).
What next? Actually, I don’t pretend to know. On the one hand there’s a “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” feel about this level of killing, torture and detention; but then again, the international community has been virtually paralysed, not even able to agree weak resolutions on minimum measures against Syria.
Meanwhile, the protests continue. In London this Saturday large numbers of Syrians in the UK will be marching from Paddington Green in the north-west of the capital to the Syrian embassy in Belgrave Square. There will be a major rally right outside the embassy building. If this was in Aleppo, Hama or Banias these marchers would probably be getting shot at by the army or attacked by government-paid thugs. As it is, these ex-pat Syrians are still likely to be met by a pro-Assad counter-demonstration outside the embassy itself.
If you can, please come along and show your support for these doughty Syrians who are steadfastly calling for human rights for everyone in their home country. If you can’t make it, please look out for the Twitter and Facebook hashtag #EyesOnSyria.
I’ll be at the demo. I’ll report back next week.
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