Saturday, April 23, 2011

Syrian Crackdown Continues At Funerals For Those Killed In Friday Protests

Bashar al-Assad's regime continues its violent crackdown against protesters demanding reforms throughout the country. The death toll from yesterday may be as high as 100, but no one knows for sure just how many people have been killed by the regime.

Funerals for some of those killed are to take place today, and there's a worry that the crackdown will extend to the funeral processions and that the death toll will rise once more.
Wissam Tarif, head of Insan, a Syrian human rights group, said that the death toll was expected to rise as many are still missing and activists are still negotiating for the release of bodies from the custody of security forces. The violence started on Friday after the Muslim noon prayers, when scores of Syrians gathered in protests. Their demands have grown since the uprising began in March — from calls for reform to demands that President Bashar al-Assad step down. In moments laden with symbolism, protesters tore down Mr. Assad’s picture and wrecked statues of his father, Hafez, who seized power in 1970.

The images of carnage Friday represented some of the most horrific moments of the so-called Arab Spring, as Syrian security forces met thousands of protesters with fusillades of live ammunition in more than a dozen towns. Some of the worst clashes occurred in towns on the outskirts of Damascus, the capital, and in the southern town of Azra, where thousands gathered to chant antigovernment slogans and call for the president’s ouster.

Organizers suggested that the aftermath could propel even more people into the streets in an uprising that has so far failed to achieve the critical mass of revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. Protests were reported in every Syrian province, though Damascus and Syria’s second-largest city, Aleppo, remained relatively quiet.

The Syrian Human Rights Information Link, basing its estimate on accounts from witnesses, said the death toll had risen from 88 to 92, with 42 dead in the suburbs of Damascus; 22 in Homs; 20 in Azra; 1 in Dara’a; 2 in Latakia; 3 in Hama and 2 elsewhere.
Some of the funeral processions have already come under fire:

Five mourners were killed by Assad's thugs
. Once again, this highlights the fact that Assad has no interest in reforming the political structure in Syria, nor does he have any intention of changing his ways. He may have shuffled his cabinet and claimed to have lifted the emergency law in place for more than 40 years, but his regime is acting as though nothing has changed. They're still engaging in detentions, torture, and murder of protesters and opponents to the regime.

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