Assad's Syria slaughters its citizens while enlightened, civilized democracies do nothing to stop it
pickup from The Toronto Globe & Mail
(daily broadsheet, Canada)
Wednesday 27 April 2011
Syria's Assad facing
by Khaled Yacoub Oweis
[NOTE: During the anti-government protests and the Assad regime's suppression, the Assad government has banned foreign journalists from reporting on events in Syria.]
AMMAN, JORDAN (Reuters) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad faced dissent within government ranks with more than 200 members of his Baath Party resigning and signs of discontent within the army over the violent repression of pro-democracy protests.
Two hundred party members from Deraa province and surrounding regions resigned on Wednesday after the government sent in tanks to crush resistance in the city of Deraa. At least 35 civilians were killed in the attack, rights groups said.
Diplomats said signs were also emerging of discontent within the army where the majority of troops are Sunni Muslims, but most officers belong to the same minority Alawite sect as Mr. Assad.
Mr. Assad sent the ultra-loyal Fourth Mechanized Division, commanded by his brother Maher, into Deraa on Monday. Reports from opposition figures and Deraa residents, which could not be confirmed, said that several soldiers from another unit had refused to fire on civilians.
“The largest funerals in Syria so far have been for soldiers who have refused to obey orders to shoot protesters and were summarily executed on the spot,” a senior diplomat said.
Another diplomat said there was at least one instance this month of soldiers confronting secret police to stop them shooting at protesters.
“No one is saying that Assad is about to lose control of the army, but once you start using the army to slaughter your own people, it is a sign of weakness,” he said.
The sound of gunfire was heard in Deraa on Wednesday night. Water, electricity and communications remained cut and essential supplies were running low, residents said.
“The martyrs are being kept in refrigerator trucks used normally to transport produce, but they cannot move with the army firing randomly. We pour alcohol on the bodies to lessen the stench,” one of the residents said.
The death toll in almost six weeks of protests rose to 450, a rights group said.
Protests erupted in Deraa after security police arrested two prominent women in the city, a doctor and an engineer, for expressing political views, and detained 15 children who wrote slogans on the walls demanding freedom, modelled on the cries of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions.
Once a recruiting ground for the Baath and secret police, Deraa has become the cradle of Syria’s uprising.
Syria has been dominated by the Assad family since Bashar’s father, the late President Hafez al-Assad, took power in a 1970 coup. The younger Assad kept intact the autocratic political system he inherited in 2000 while the family expanded its control over the country’s struggling economy.
Mr. Assad’s decision to storm Deraa echoed his father’s 1982 attack on the city of Hama to crush an uprising led by the Muslim Brotherhood. Up to 30,000 people were killed with little objection from the international community.
Bashar al-Assad’s attack on Deraa has drawn threats of sanctions from Western powers but the West remains wary of contemplating action that could contribute to toppling him.
[that's me btw]
11:14 PM on April 27, 2011
It is 2011, and still international treaties and laws do not forbid and cannot prevent nations from murdering their own citizens. We have evolved no further than the state of international law during the rise of Nazi Germany.
In what seems this hopeless state genocide in Syria, where the "civilized" nations of North America and Europe refuse to act to stop the slaughter and lawless detention and torture, we can -- and we must -- look for hope in the humanity of the ordinary Syrian soldiers ordered to commit these mass murders.
In Berlin's Checkpoint Charlie Museum, which preserves the history of the misery and atrocities of the Cold War, there is a strange gallery dedicated to the lousy marksmen of the East German army.
Ordinary conscripted East Germans were ordered to shoot to kill their neighbors desperately trying to flee to West Germany.
They took aim, they fired -- but somehow most of the time missed their fleeing targets.
They knew they faced severe punishment, but still could not put their relatives and neighbors in the crosshairs.
Beneath the uniforms of Syrian soldiers are the same human hearts. During this ghastly festival of hopelessness, many Syrians targeted for murder will live and survive not because civilized, enlightened and powerful democracies came to their aid, but because of the lousy marksmanship of ordinary Syrian soldiers.
9:42 PM on April 27, 2011
Firstly, Assad should be declared an international pariah, just like Gadhafi. He should be subject to arrest if he sets foot outside of Syria.
Secondly, his deeds must be investigated and documented.
Thirdly, he should have to face indictment and trial by the World Court for his atrocities against Syrian citizens, just like Gadhafi and just like the guys from Serbia that were put on trial and convicted.
Time for consistant, inevitable and certain punishment for these savages.