A woman stands in the middle of a busy Damascus street. Yellow cabs honk and weave around her. Her red dress, splattered with white paint, flows in the wind along with a red fabric banner held up above her head like a translucent shield. A group of people gathers on the sidewalk to observe as she turns side to side, for all to see. As we watch them watching her through our computer screens, we hear a new sound — not a familiar chant of the revolution, but loud claps of extended applause. When she faces the camera, we finally read her words: “Stop the killing. We want to build a country for all Syrians.”
Her name is Rima Dali, and she stood in protest alone, armed with a red scarf and a powerful message, in front of the Syrian Parliament on April 8. She would be detained for two days for her dissent.
Dali’s action, while brave, would have been easy to disregard as a fleeting incident if it hadn’t happened again, a few days later, in front of the Palace of Justice. And again a few days after that, when more people occupied Dali’s place and even more onlookers clapped from the sidewalk.
Activists like Dali, who had a strong presence at the beginning of the uprising, are trying to rewind Syria‘s clock to the early months of the revolution, when the message of selmiyeh — peaceful — dominated the streets. During the past two weeks, despite the regime’s relentless violence, Syria protested like it was 2011 again.
During the 10-day lull between the announcement of U.N. and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point plan for a ceasefire and its implementation on April 10, violence sharply escalated in Syria — as it usually does before every international ultimatum directed at President Bashar al-Assad. But since then, while shelling and government attacks have continued in certain flashpoints, the daily death toll has decreased significantly. Within opposition circles, another sentiment was brewing even before the ceasefire: a realization that it’s time to reclaim the revolution in order to reclaim the country.
For months, the civic and social activism of these peaceful protesters have been rendered obsolete next to the physical heroics of the Free Syrian Army‘s (FSA) military operations against the regime’s brutality. Peaceful protests in city squares not only seemed impossible, but utterly useless against tanks, shells, and snipers. As armed resistance took its place within the revolution, the nonviolent activists slowly became passive pacifists. In recent days, however, that has changed.
Further 175 hurt in security compound blasts but opposition blames attacks on security forces aiming to disrupt protests
One of two bomb blasts sites in Syria‘s northern city of Aleppo. Photograph: Sana/Reuters
Violence spread to Syria‘s largest city, Aleppo, on Friday with two blasts outside security compounds that left 28 people dead.
The explosions outside military intelligence and police compounds were blamed on terrorists by the state media. Some 175 people were injured, the worst day Aleppo has seen since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began last year. The northern city and economic hub has been largely quiet, but protests had been planned for Friday. Anti-Assad activists accused the regime of setting off the blasts to discredit the opposition and disrupt demonstrations.
In Homs, government forces continued their siege of rebel-held districts and other opposition areas, going house to house arresting people in the Insha’at district and keeping up an artillery and tank barrage on Baba Amr.
The intensified campaign began with the failure of the UN security council to agree on a common position last weekend, when Russia and China vetoed a resolution backing an Arab League peace plan and calling on Assad to step down. Moscow and Beijing stuck to their positions on Friday, dashing any residual hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough in the security council. Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, accused the west of arming the rebel Free Syrian Army. Continue reading
Cairo (CNN) — Syria has accepted “in principle” an Arab League plan to permit 500 observers into the country to verify whether the regime has taken measures to protect civilians, a senior Arab diplomat said Friday.
Syria has requested amendments to the protocol before signing it, said the diplomat, who has knowledge of negotiations between the Arab League and Syria.
Arab League nations voted to suspend Syria from membership. But the league, which met in Rabat, Morocco, Wednesday, gave Damascus three days to implement a protocol to allow observers to enter the nation. Continue reading