Syrian protesters hurled stones and set roadblocks of burning tires against government forces trying to enter a key opposition city Thursday, nearly a week after a massive protest against the regime of President Bashar Assad, activists said.Promises of reform are nonsense when Assad continues brutally cracking down on protesters at every opportunity, including during funeral processions for those slain in earlier protests.
Earlier, dozens of families fled the central city of Hama fearing a full-scale crackdown by Assad's troops.
The central Syrian city has become a center of resistance in the four-month-old uprising and poses a potential dilemma for Assad's government. A major offensive could make the city a fresh rallying cry for the opposition, but Assad's regime also does not want a repeat of last Friday's stunning rally, when an estimated 300,000 people protested.
Hama also holds deeper symbolism for opposition to the rule of the Assad family. In 1982, the late Hafez Assad ordered troops to crush a rebellion by Islamist forces, killing between 10,000 and 25,000 people, rights activists say.
The Syrian regime has used a mix of fierce violence and promises of reform to try quell the uprising. Some 1,400 people and 350 members of security forces have been killed since demonstrations began, activists say.
Amnesty International has apparently found its voice to denounce Assad and that the cases should be referred to the International Criminal Court because of widespread attacks on civilians and the murder of people taken into custody by Assad's thugs:
Crackdown in Syria: Terror in Tell Kalakh documents deaths in custody, torture and arbitrary detention that took place in May when Syrian army and security forces mounted a broad security sweep, lasting less than a week, against residents of the town near the Lebanese border.
“The accounts we have heard from witnesses to events in Tell Kalakh paint a deeply disturbing picture of systematic, targeted abuses to crush dissent,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.
“Most of the crimes described in this report would fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. But the UN Security Council must first refer the situation in Syria to the Court’s Prosecutor.”
The paper’s findings are based on interviews carried out in Lebanon and by phone with more than 50 people in May and June. Amnesty International has not been allowed to enter Syria.
Syrian parliamentarian elections have been postponed, but they are little more than a rubber stamp to whatever Assad deems necessary. The spin put out by the Assad regime is that the postponement is necessary to allow for a new constitution and laws to make the government more pluralistic. However, this also gives Assad more time to crack down against the very protests and opposition leaders that would presumably be brought into a new government.
There is absolutely no reason to trust Assad at his word that he's engaging in reforms - not when he's busy murdering Syrians protesting his regime on a daily basis.