Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Syria: Dynamics of a revolution

"The Syrian Media are liars"

Report by: A Syrian Socialist
19 April 2011

Protests challenging the Assad regime continued to rock Syria last week as the opposition movement spread across the country.

Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad and his regime have responded with a combination of promises and repression. They have tried to appease or pacify protesters while simultaneously cracking down heavyhandedly and killing more than 200 protesters. These are tactics that the regime has perfected in the 40-years of Assad family rule.

In the early 60’s, the Syrian government took away citizenship rights from about 150,000 Syrian Kurds and labelled them “foreigners.” The arbitrary census left members of the same family divided between citizens and non-citizens. Those stateless Kurds, numbering around 350,000 today, were denied access to education, health care, employment, and property ownership. The Kurdish language and cultural celebrations were banned. Since then, every Kurdish struggle for their rights has been met with bloody repression. An estimated total of 2 million Kurds live in Syria today, representing around 10% of the population. They have many grievances shared with the rest of the Syrian population, and many have bravely participated in the recent demonstrations.

In an attempt to silence the Kurds and peel them away from the Syrian Arabs, Assad suddenly promised to meet the Kurds’ major demand and promised to restore their Syrian citizenship. The effort backfired, and only helped fuel further protests. The next day, thousands of Kurds came out to protest against Ba’ath Party rule. Wary of a history of broken promises and vague concessions, the Kurds reaffirmed the continuation of their struggle for real freedom and their solidarity with the the other Syrian demonstrators. The Coalition of Kurdish Youth Movements has been instrumental in these mobilizations with chants like “One,one, one. The Syrian people are one!”

In a significant development, the struggle has intensified in the capital city of Damascus and Syria’s second major city of Aleppo, with hundreds of university students demonstrating in support of protesters around the country. Plainclothes security forces attacked and beat up the students, arresting many of them, and killing at least one student. In a further effort to sow sectarian divisions, the regime then released only the Kurdish students in Aleppo.

The students were also chanting in support of the families in Baniyas, the coastal city which was under siege by the regime’s security forces. In the nearby besieged town of Bayda, whose residents had supported the protests in Baniyas, security forces rounded up hundreds of men in a mass arrest following house-to-house searches. In response, hundreds of women and children took to the streets, blocking the highway, demanding the release of their brothers, fathers, and husbands. Indeed, last Friday was dubbed “Friday of Breaking the Siege”.

As the Sryian revolts enters its second month, it only seems to be gathering steam and spreading. The heavy-handed bloody regime repression and untrusted promises of reform are only fueling further anger on the street.

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