Flashpoints of a surging revolution in Syria

Published April 27th, 2011 - 13:42 GMT

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Crowds set fire to the headquarters of the ruling Baath Party in Deraa, chanting 'No Baath party, no Assad. We want to liberate the country';  'No, no to emergency law. We are a people infatuated with freedom!'
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Image 1 of 17: Crowds set fire to the headquarters of the ruling Baath Party in Deraa, chanting "No Baath party, no Assad. We want to liberate the country"; "No, no to emergency law. We are a people infatuated with freedom!"

Hafez al-Assad falls in Darra: Protesters haul down a statue of President Assad's father, late president Hafez al-Assad, before security forces open fire from buildings.
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Image 1 of 17: Hafez al-Assad falls in Darra: Protesters haul down a statue of President Assad's father, late president Hafez al-Assad, before security forces open fire from buildings.

Damascus March 25 - At least 200 people march in Damascus , with reports of deaths for the first time in the capital. “Leave, go away Doctor cause we want to live!” Mocking his medical status in accordance to Arab deference to titles.
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Image 1 of 17: Damascus March 25 - At least 200 people march in Damascus , with reports of deaths for the first time in the capital. “Leave, go away Doctor cause we want to live!” Mocking his medical status in accordance to Arab deference to titles.

Qamishli: Hundreds partake in Good Friday rally in this Kurdish town mixed with Muslim and Christian communities.
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Image 1 of 17: Qamishli: Hundreds partake in Good Friday rally in this Kurdish town mixed with Muslim and Christian communities.

Lattakia: 12 people are killed in protests in the town of Lattakia. Assad deploys the army there April 13th.
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Image 1 of 17: Lattakia: 12 people are killed in protests in the town of Lattakia. Assad deploys the army there April 13th.

Syrian women bolster Banias: Some 2,000 women rallied 'in favor of liberty and in homage of the martyr.' Like Yemen and Egypt, women are taking an active lead.
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Image 1 of 17: Syrian women bolster Banias: Some 2,000 women rallied "in favor of liberty and in homage of the martyr." Like Yemen and Egypt, women are taking an active lead.

Banias: calling for 'Good Friday' rallies, a day after President Bashar al-Assad scrapped decades of draconian emergency rule. These concessions haven’t appeased a people calling for basic human rights, not bonus incentives, they point out.
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Image 1 of 17: Banias: calling for "Good Friday" rallies, a day after President Bashar al-Assad scrapped decades of draconian emergency rule. These concessions haven’t appeased a people calling for basic human rights, not bonus incentives, they point out.

Hama then (1982) No Call for Prayer for 3 months after the massacre, as all mosques wiped out in the large scale destruction; today from Hama we get phone camera-coverage, that, while not  the best quality, speaks volumes for this long-silent town.
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Image 1 of 17: Hama then (1982) No Call for Prayer for 3 months after the massacre, as all mosques wiped out in the large scale destruction; today from Hama we get phone camera-coverage, that, while not the best quality, speaks volumes for this long-silent town.

Banias Boy: Other banners witnessed bear the words in Arabic: 'Mother, prepare my shroud, the Syrian people aren't cowards' .
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Image 1 of 17: Banias Boy: Other banners witnessed bear the words in Arabic: "Mother, prepare my shroud, the Syrian people aren't cowards" .

Tartus: April 26, 2011, the funeral of Syrian Ahmed Ali Muhammad in the village of Hamush Ruslan. In the town or village, communal gatherings as funerals can ignite a whole community in no time.
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Image 1 of 17: Tartus: April 26, 2011, the funeral of Syrian Ahmed Ali Muhammad in the village of Hamush Ruslan. In the town or village, communal gatherings as funerals can ignite a whole community in no time.

Damascus: Big city, small protest: the larger urban centers as Damascus do not have the same close-knit communities and powerful networks through which to infect the majority who have been terrified for years.
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Image 1 of 17: Damascus: Big city, small protest: the larger urban centers as Damascus do not have the same close-knit communities and powerful networks through which to infect the majority who have been terrified for years.

Back to Darra, the epicenter of unrest: first to protest officially and most charged city just now- the focal point for Syrian discontent and government wrath and clamp down. Unlikely to suffer as Hama once did as the people and coverage are less muted.
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Image 1 of 17: Back to Darra, the epicenter of unrest: first to protest officially and most charged city just now- the focal point for Syrian discontent and government wrath and clamp down. Unlikely to suffer as Hama once did as the people and coverage are less muted.

Darra: where phone lines and all communication are cut off, northernmost city bordering Jordan, and famous for its smugglers other side of the border in Jordan, Rumtha: the border was closed off 25th April.
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Image 1 of 17: Darra: where phone lines and all communication are cut off, northernmost city bordering Jordan, and famous for its smugglers other side of the border in Jordan, Rumtha: the border was closed off 25th April.

Less key protests in Damascus and Aleppo: Why? It is no secret that an implicit agreement was made long ago by the Alawite ruling regime and the Sunni elites and merchants in the cities, such that they were to stay out of politics. Slow to break faith.
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Image 1 of 17: Less key protests in Damascus and Aleppo: Why? It is no secret that an implicit agreement was made long ago by the Alawite ruling regime and the Sunni elites and merchants in the cities, such that they were to stay out of politics. Slow to break faith.

Deir ez-Zor “We want to be clear, the Makhlouf family ripped us off’ in reference to the massive corruption and Mafioso monopoly on Syria by the Assad family. The cries and chants of protest are spreading round the Syrian coast and mainland, slowly but surely.
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Image 1 of 17: Deir ez-Zor “We want to be clear, the Makhlouf family ripped us off’ in reference to the massive corruption and Mafioso monopoly on Syria by the Assad family. The cries and chants of protest are spreading round the Syrian coast and mainland, slowly but surely.

Day of Anger: So called ‘shy’ protests as they’re being tagged in Arabic, don’t hold back with their poster messages: Run away, we don’t like you!
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Image 1 of 17: Day of Anger: So called ‘shy’ protests as they’re being tagged in Arabic, don’t hold back with their poster messages: Run away, we don’t like you!

Hama 1982: Not a single photo emerged from the brutal assault of father al-Assad, at the time. Here some unprecedented relatively unseen footage of the ghost town that Hama became in the aftermath of the slaughter, site of 40,000 deaths. Today Hama joins other Syrian hot-spots to cry for freedom.
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Image 1 of 17: Hama 1982: Not a single photo emerged from the brutal assault of father al-Assad, at the time. Here some unprecedented relatively unseen footage of the ghost town that Hama became in the aftermath of the slaughter, site of 40,000 deaths. Today Hama joins other Syrian hot-spots to cry for freedom.

While protests officially first erupted in Darra- the town that’s spawned the Syrian Revolution, trouble actually first started 26th January 2011 in Al-Raqqah, home to many Kurds in Syria.  In Al-Hasakah, a predominantly Kurdish village, a man set himself a-light and died. The frustration started here , in a community of citizens upward of 150,000, who serve in the army but have til now been denied Syrian nationality.            

The Syrian revolution has been a slow starter , working its way in fits and starts. This Kurdish spark was a false start and the more recognizable ignition was in Darra.

Major protests kicked off in the southern city of Deraa have since spread across the country. Another false start , a "Day of Rage" that failed to materialize on 4-5th February,  calling for removal of al-Assad and a mass demonstration, led instead to the Kingdom of Silence tag. Meantime protests trickled along elsewhere, small in size and outside of Syria.

Why such a slow and, possibly deadly starter? It took time for predictions such as Ribal Al-Assad’s, an enemy cousin of President al-Assad’s, for Syria to be the next domino to come true. Strict security measures, the popularity of President Bashar al-Assad, and fear of potential sectarian violence in the aftermath of a government ouster Like Iraq have helped keep people cautious, repressed and shying away from uprising.

Varying degrees of protest in ripples across the country have been reported in Ar-Raqqah , Daraa, Latakia, Tartus, Edlib, Baniyas, Qamishli, Homs,  Harasta,  Deir ez-Zor, Barzeh in Damascus and still spreading. There are still not the massive scale of protests across the country. Echo or satellite protests have erupted but not in the consolidated manner of Libya, Egypt and Yemen. People are demanding governmental reform and the dismissal of leader Bashar al-Assad.

Coverage and quality footage is harder to come by given Syria's strength in security and track record of suppressing free media (eg Hamma massacre not documented). This time round all material that is exposed or uncovered straight away through phone cameras and spread through Social Media is quite unprecedented.

 

 

 

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