‘Friday of the Children of Freedom’ – the Uprising Moves to Hama, Many Killed, Internet Cut

Hama lights on fire. The internet is cut off. Syria witnesses the biggest day of the crackdown as protests are animated by the death of Hamza Ali al-Khateeb. Many insist that no one will believe the Syrian government’s version of Hamza’s death unless there is an international investigation team allowed into the country. Syria will refuse such an idea; it will argue that to permit foreigners access will begin the country down the slippery slope of foreign investigative teams for every conflagration. But with the protest movement gathering renewed steam following the Antalya opposition meeting and gathering international outrage at brutality, the Syrian government finds itself increasingly isolate and with few options.

SYRIA: Many deaths reported as thousands march in ‘Friday of the children of freedom’ protests

June 3, 2011

Picture 2 Syrian activist accounts say dozens of people were killed in the central city of Hama on Friday when Syrian military forces and pro-regime loyalists opened fire at a large protest rally against the rule of President Bashar Assad and the Syrian regime’s continued crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

A member of the Syrian activist group the Local Coordination Committees in Syria (LCCSyria) told Babylon & Beyond that the group had names of 24 people killed in Friday’s protests in Hama. The Associated Press reported that 34 people were killed in the city on Friday. Snipers were positioned on the rooftops of buildings in various Hama neighborhoods and the death toll was expected to rise, according to activist reports.

Syria Blocks Internet Access Amid Unrest

Syria shut down most of its Internet and mobile data connections early Friday, adopting a strategy used by other governments in the Middle East during critical points of the uprisings.

But the attempt to gain an advantage over the opposition groups by unplugging or partially blocking the Internet, which has played a key role in the protests, could backfire. In some cases, most notably in Egypt, the move appeared to prompt more angry protesters into the streets.

“You are reaching a point of no return when you do this kind of stuff,” said Earl Zmijewski, a vice president at Renesys …

Rights group calls for Syria sanctions

June 3 2011 Reuters

Syrian women living in Jordan adorn their faces and clothes with the national flag during a protest to demand that Syrian President Bashar Assad step down from power.

Human Rights Watch has called on the UN Security Council to impose sanction on Syria and to hold the government accountable to the International Criminal Court,

Haaretz: Assad regime will eventually succumb to protest pressure, IDF sources say

The regime of Syrian leader Bashar Assad will not survive and will eventually collapse under the pressure of demonstrations in his country. This is the assessment of Israel’s military establishment – and this view is gaining strength. A senior …

Here a transcript ( edited for comprehension ) of  live Twitter messages posted by  @ProfKahf  who attended the Antalya conference (Thanks for posting in comment section)

Poet, Syrian American academic

Start of transcript  ______________

Antalya conference is electing a 31-member working-group to continue coordination among the conference workshops.

Will the “Tribe List” or the “Kid List” win the vote – who [will] continue Antalya conference work?

Antalya conference :
List 1 includes  Ikhwan , Kurdish , Christian , Alawite , human rights organization chiefs
List 2: includes new names , emerging activists

It’s just a vote for a conference working-group, nothing more, but it was a thrill anyway.

Lists were compiled and you voted for the Whole Shebang ( one list or the other ).

total votes caste: 253
List1 :  203

List2:  50

Immediate breakdown, with color pie graphics projected on Antalya conference hall screen.

Oddly, some folks found out they were on a List just 5 minutes before the vote  (eg. me , Mariam Jalabi).
Antalya conference Sloppy process

Mariam & I were on (losing) Kid List.
Goodwill all’round . Khawla Yusef, Sondos Soleiman, Melhem Drooby, Ammar Qurabi, on winning list

Young activsts were promised 10 seats
List1 ended up with only 3 , including  @Mohammad_Syria who withdrew  to protest level of youth inclusion

AND again, it’s only a conference WORK group. The young gen’ers were saying “ we are who will end up doing the actual work anyway”

You know, people are always gonna say stuff like this when you have a conference, and If you don’t have it, you’re also damned.

Beauty vibes , solidarity (which is not the same as no diffs) predominate at this conference ,despite differences.

New blood @ Antalya #Syria conference, says
“ Regarding  List 1: Fine , let well-known “Opposition Faces” be the slap to the regime ; we will do the work.”

UN seeks probe after Syrian boy’s torture-killing

The call came after a New York Times report that an online video showed a 13-year-old boy, arrested at a protest on April 29, who it said had been tortured, mutilated and killed. UN seeks probe after Syrian boy’s torture-killing Tue, 31 May 2011 19 …

Hamza Ali al-Khateeb’s death explained by to the Syrian government, which claims that damage to the body was consistent with decay of 5 weeks that it sat unidentified. Sana in English

Here is video of the government’s response to the claimed torture of 13 year old Hamza. Here and here. Both are in Arabic.

The Depravity Factor
By DAVID BROOKS June 2, 2011, Op-Ed Columnist NYTimes

By now you have probably heard about Hamza Ali al-Khateeb. He was the 13-year-old Syrian boy who tagged along at an antigovernment protest in the town of Saida on April 29. He was arrested that day, and the police returned his mutilated body to his family a month later. While in custody, he had apparently been burned, beaten, lacerated and given electroshocks. His jaw and kneecaps were shattered. He was shot in both arms. When his father saw the state of Hamza’s body, he passed out…..

All governments do bad things, and Middle East dictatorships do more than most. But the Syrian government is one of the world’s genuinely depraved regimes. Yet for all these years, Israel has been asked to negotiate with this regime, compromise with this regime and trust that this regime will someday occupy the heights over it in peace…..

That’s why it’s necessary, especially at this moment in history, to focus on the nature of regimes, not only the boundaries between them. To have a peaceful Middle East, it was necessary to get rid of Saddam’s depraved regime in Iraq. It will be necessary to try to get rid of Qaddafi’s depraved regime in Libya. It’s necessary, as everybody but the Obama administration publicly acknowledges, to see Assad toppled.  It will be necessary to marginalize Hamas. It was necessary to abandon the engagement strategy that Barack Obama campaigned on and embrace the cautious regime-change strategy that is his current doctrine.

The machinations of the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are immaterial. The Arab reform process is the peace process.

“There are already 3 armies based near the city of Dera’a. But the government didn’t use them to attack the city. Why not? Because they contain many young men from around the country, including many young Sunni men, who wouldn’t want to attack the people.Instead they brought Maher’s special army all the way from Qatana. It is the special army that is loyal to him.” (Qatana is located a short distance west of Damascus.)”

me:   So the story of the 4th and 5th Divisions ‘fighting’ is now gone. The 5th Division didn’t even enter into the city? Funny as the last I heard, the 4th and 5th divs had a major battle in Dar’a!

me:  That is what happens when people use rumors to support their own ideas. Or else the 4th Division is now responsible for Dar’a, Baniyas, Tall Kalakh, Ar Rastan, Talblisi, Al Mu’azamiyah???? Quite a stretch for a single unit.

Comments (153)

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151. Friend in America said:

After thinking about your summary of the government’s strategy, I have some worries. Let me share them with you.

1. 500,000 is a high number to recruit into a militia. I think it would be a tremendous undertaking to recruit this many in 3 months. Few if any, except army retirees, have a familiarity with pistols and rifles, so they are unreliable unless trained. That and maneuver training will take several more months. Would you take them away from their work? Would you draft males between the age of 18 and 50? To do so runs the risk if desertion, with the rifles and bullets. After all this is done, how much mobility to move the militia around to hot spots would the command have? Militias usually stay close to home.
Maybe Hiz fighters could be hired, but there goes the argument of 10 million vs 10 million.

2. Are 500,000 rifles available to the central government? Uniforms? Food? Compensation? I doubt Syria has the resources for this. Who will finance this? Iran? Don’t count on the Saudis.

3. Are these “recruits” reliable? A recruit who sees his neighbor’s son or cousin’s son in the demonstration is likely to shoot over the heads of the demonstrators or not shoot at all.

4. In the previous post there is a link to a YouTube of infantrymen and tanks advancing on the outskirts of Dar’aa. After playing it three times I concluded the soldiers deployed disorderly with the sergeants not knowing what to do with officers shouting from a distance. An observer could question their military effectiveness in this very easy maneuver.

5. My information is the Syrian Kurds so far are sitting this one out.
Their influence is regional and limited but there is a gain to having them sit this one out. To get their agreement the administration will have to be offer more than a couple of seats in parliament. Would the government agree to permitting the Syrian Kurds to ally themselves with the Iraqi Kurds to form a Kurdistan? The Kurdish area is economically negative for the central government, so there might be an advantage here?

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June 8th, 2011, 9:43 pm


152. pedro ali alves said:


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June 9th, 2011, 12:16 pm


153. Ammar said:

i want to say something about the (martyer) Hamza Al-Khateeb, he was rushed with hundreds of people to the hostile of the offecer’s families. the armored (terrorists) hid among them, they had FATWA from a religion man (shiekh) that they should rape the women of the officers, as those women are their hostages (called in arabic Sabaya), Hamza and many other teenagers rushed to do this, the guards shot the crowed to defend the families who were going to be killed and raped, so Hamza and 12 others were killed, can we call those (martyers), they are martyers of their sexual religious rash only. i can confirm this from a wife of an officer that i know there. and i’m ready to give this wetness to any court under the oath

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June 12th, 2011, 7:53 pm


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