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Month

June 2011

Vision of the Local Coordination Committees (LCC) for a political solution in Syria

 

 

 

Three months have passed since the revolution in Syria sparked. Syrians are showing extraordinary bravery in their demand for freedom with more than one thousand and one hundred revolutionaries martyred, and more than ten thousand who have been detained in these past three months.

The way the regime is currently handling the protests is exactly what caused demonstrations to spread in the first place: Security forces detaining, torturing and killing citizens; The army – instead of being deployed in occupied Syrian land – has been put in confrontation with the people it’s supposed to protect; Playing the invalid card of sectarianism – thinking people will fall for it; And using national media outlets to demean the revolution and incite targeting peaceful protesters.

 

Now, the main concern of Syrian citizens is finding an exit from the current crisis which is created by the regime’s violent tactics in dealing with the nation-wide revolution. We see one of two exit scenarios:

 

1- A dialog-based peaceful transition towards a pluralist democracy based on: Free and independent elections; A transition towards eliminating the rule of one party; Eliminating unlimited presidential terms and re-elections; Eliminating the current monarch-like republic system; Removing immunity for intelligence and security agents; Removing the official cover from those who stole public funds; And reforming public media that distorts facts and incites hatred.

 

2- Heading to the unknown by maintaining the current tactics of using violence against peaceful demonstrations, and sacrificing the country for the sake of the survival of an immoral and disrespectful regime. This scenario carries the risks of allowing foreign intervention and civil conflict, in which case the regime takes the entire responsibility for what happens.

We refuse the demands to bring the current popular revolution to a halt just because the regime refuses to stop the current acts of murder and vandalism, we shall not accept giving an opportunity to leave Syria hostage to such an irresponsible regime.

We call upon Syrian citizens of all backgrounds, including pro-regime individuals who still have some dignity, to work together to prevent the plans which the ruling ‘elite’ have for the country, and call on everyone to make a stand that would save Syria and its people, and opens the  doors for better futures.

We would like to make it clear that the central issue and the main objective of the revolution is to change the political system, first through ending the terms of the current president who is politically and legally responsible for the crimes committed against Syrians. We believe that this will be the starting point for a healthy exit scenario, and that any other arrangements will only prolong the current crisis and threaten the future of Syria.

 

To avoid entering a dark tunnel, we recommend the following:

 

First, and as LCCSy mentioned in its two previous statements, there is an IMMEDIATE need for:

  • Putting an end to murder, violence, and the systematic targeting of protesters by security forces, militias and Shabiha (regime’s armed thugs).
  • Releasing all political prisoners.
  • Halting all acts of tracking and detaining revolutionaries.
  • Putting and end to local media propaganda which targets and incites hatred against protesters.
  • Allowing Arab and international media into Syria.

 

 

Peaceful protests shall not stop, and shall not seek permission and authorisation from the government, for it is the citizen’s tool to defend their rights.

 

Second: we support a call for a national conference aiming towards a transition into a pluralist democracy, based on freedom for the public as well as equal political and legal rights among Syrians.

 

The conference should:

– Guarantee a safe and peaceful transition from the current governing system and provide unanimous foundations for a new system based on freedom, equality, and the rule of law. The new system should leave no space for chaos and acts of revenge.

 

– Specify a transitional period of no longer than 6 months, where the country shall be governed by a transitional committee of civil and military figures. This period should pave the way to: Opening public media outlets to be a tool for the people and outlet for democratic political

 

activities; Dissolving security agencies and temporarily delegate handling security matters to the army; Separating Baath party from the government; Dissolving “communal organizations”; Allowing the freedom for political activities and activism and give real power back to unions; and Granting the people the right for peaceful assembly and gathering.

 

– An establishing committee is elected during the transitional period. This committee will prepare a new constitution including points that clearly outlines the authority of the president, limiting his/her mandate to a maximum of two 4 years terms, and putting an end to ousting and marginalizing ideologies and political parties that represent the Syrian nation.

 

– The conference should include politicians from the current regime, as long as they didn’t take a direct part in the killing and theft of the Syrian people, as well as representatives from the local and expat Syrian opposition, and representatives of both on-the-ground and logistical revolutionaries. The conference should be observed by independent media and international civil society representatives.

 

Third:

We look for the following principles to guide new Syria’s public life:

  • Syria is a civil republic that belongs to Syrians, not to an individual, a family, or a party. No place for the inheritance of power in the new Syria.
  • Syrians are all equal in rights and duties; none is privileged or stripped from his/her rights due to his/her ethnic, religion or sect.
  • All of Syria’s cultural and religious groups shall be respected and based on equality and

 

 

  • citizenship; none is privileged over the other. It is therefore necessary to completely put behind the shameful history of discrimination against Kurds and other groups, and making the necessary political and legal legislation to guarantee so.
  • Equality and tolerance, not revenge and vengeance, are the basis for conflict resolution among Syrians, if any.
  • Everyone is equal in front of the law, and everyone is accountable with no exceptions.
  • National resources belong to all Syrians, development should be directed towards improving the abilities and welfare of all Syrians, especially those in need.
  • The New Syria is free, independent and committed to international community conventions preserving its national rights and integrity.
  • All legitimate existing businesses and establishments shall remain untouched, but it is not acceptable for the government to protect unfair and unjust economical and political practices.

 

 

Fourth: The people’s revolution is the main source of political legitimacy, it will carry on until the nation’s aspirations for freedom, equality and dignity are met.

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Irak Traces d’uranium après les bombes US sur la ville, hantée d’enfants difformes

Le martyre des bébés de FalloujahLes combats menés par l’armée américaine ont fait rage à Falloujah en 2004 et 2005. Aujourd’hui, environ 15% des bébés naissent avec des malformations graves. © AFP et A.F.

Le martyre des bébés de Falloujah

reportage

Falloujah

de notre envoyée spéciale

Falloujah est aujourd’hui une triste ville. Une ville qui se reconstruit petit à petit, une ville qui s’accroche à son bout de désert mais qui, six ans après les combats contre l’armée américaine, est toujours encerclée et sous contrôle de l’armée irakienne. Hier, ville résistante ; aujourd’hui, ville traumatisée.

En 2004 et 2005, l’armée américaine a livré ici une bataille sans merci, à coups de bombardements et de pilonnages intensifs. Il fallait écraser l’insurrection. Des quartiers entiers ont été rayés de la carte. Les combats de rue ont bloqué des enfants et des femmes pendant des jours. Et aujourd’hui, la psychose gagne tout le monde. Les naissances d’enfants atteints de malformations se multiplient.

« Les femmes ont peur d’être enceintes. Ma fille a 5 ans, elle ne peut marcher : sa colonne vertébrale s’est mal développée. Elle a comme une petite queue qui lui pousse au bas du dos. Ici, je ne peux pas la faire opérer. Ça me rend malade de la voir comme ça et ça me rend dingue lorsque Bagdad dit que ce n’est pas les bombes américaines qui nous ont fait ça. » Le père de Noussibeh a travaillé comme photographe pendant les combats. Il a vu les fumées de toutes les couleurs après les explosions. Sa femme était enceinte lors des combats de 2005 et, pour lui, il y a un lien, entre ces bombardements et le triste sort de son enfant.

Autre quartier, autre famille, autre difformité : Mohamed et sa famille habitaient le quartier de Jaloun, un des quartiers martyr de Falloujah. Son fils Mahmoud a 6 ans, il en paraît 3, hurle en permanence, et son regard effrayé attriste sa mère : « Je ne peux le calmer, je ne sais pas quoi faire, je suis mal à l’aise avec lui. Le docteur m’a donné des calmants. Mon mari travaille à la journée. Nous sommes pauvres, on ne peut rien faire pour lui. » Assis dans un fauteuil roulant toute la journée, Mahmoud s’agite. Il ne peut marcher ni communiquer avec son jeune frère qui, lui, est né normal. La population de Falloujah blâme l’envahisseur américain, mais personne pour l’instant ne peut dire ce qui a causé cette explosion du nombre de malformations, qui touche peut-être 15 % des naissances.

Le tout nouvel hôpital de Falloujah possède son service pédiatrique. Là, les six médecins disent tous leur frustration, leur lassitude. Depuis cinq ans, ils interpellent en vain leurs autorités. Chaque mois, ils mettent au monde des dizaines d’enfants avec de graves handicaps. Hydrocéphalie, malformation du visage, absence de boîte crânienne, ils vous montrent l’inmontrable, des nouveau-nés sans sexe, sans jambe, avec un œil. De petites choses qui ne vivent que quelques heures. Des enfants aussitôt enterrés et qui gardent le secret de leurs malformations avec eux.

A Falloujah, pas de laboratoire, pas de budget pour une étude, dit le ministère irakien de la Santé. Il a fallu la ténacité de quelques citoyens pour prélever des échantillons, les sortir clandestinement d’Irak et les apporter à des scientifiques étrangers.

Chris Busby, un chercheur britannique, est aussi un militant. Il travaille depuis des années sur les effets de l’uranium appauvri utilisé par les armées occidentales dans les Balkans. « Je n’ai jamais rien vu de pareil. Ces malformations sont impressionnantes, et il y a tellement de cas. Notre travail depuis un an est un travail d’alerte. Tout a été difficile. Lorsque nous avons interviewé des familles, des médias locaux ont insinué que nous étions des terroristes. Les portes des maisons se sont fermées aussitôt. »

Quelque 700 familles ont pu être interviewées et le résultat établit une certitude. Le nombre de bébés malformés est plus élevé dans la cité irakienne. Deux fois plus qu’en Jordanie voisine, par exemple. Pour la seconde étude, qui devrait être publiée prochainement, l’équipe du professeur Busby a cherché 44 métaux lourds ou substances dans les échantillons d’ongles et de cheveux. « Il n’y a pas de mercure, pas de tungstène, pas d’arsenic. Nous n’avons rien trouvé, rien, sauf de l’uranium enrichi. Nous pensions trouver de l’uranium appauvri qui est utilisé dans les armes anti-chars. La seule explication, c’est que des armes radioactives ont été utilisées, des armes nouvelles ont été testées sur les Irakiens. L’armée américaine ne communique pas sur le sujet, c’est simple, ils ne disent rien. »

A Falloujah, le docteur Samira al-Ani, pédiatre, déteste son impuissance. « Si la population a respiré ou ingéré des métaux lourds, une fois stockés dans les organes, ils transforment l’ADN. C’est sans doute ce qui se passe, mais nous n’avons aucune certitude, faute d’étude. Nous avons besoin d’aide. »

Le père du petit Mohamed qui est né avec une moitié de visage prend son fils dans ses bras. « Je l’aime mais nous n’aurons plus d’enfants. J’ai trop peur. Ma femme aussi. C’est comme si Falloujah était maudite.

Le Soir de samedi 11 juin page 12

Some personal thoughts on Syria by Sophia

I have not been posting on Syria because the state of this country is a very personal thing to me.   I grew up during the Lebanese civil war.  I saw the savagery of my fellow men and women.  I saw people who used to be friends denounce and kill each other out of fear and under coercion.  Militia in Lebanon were intent at destroying each other.  Only the presence of the Syrian army prevented one ethnic sect from annihilating the other.  Many Lebanese accuse Syrians of  having participated in their own way, with their intelligence and army, in the Lebanese civil war.  But Syria didn’t start the Lebanese civil war.  It was started by Lebanese.  Syria watched and made sure no sect triumphed.
It was in Baathist and secular Syria’s interest that Lebanon kept its religious mosaics.  I left Lebanon in 1982 and forgot about it, married a foreigner and threw myself in the pursuit of the ordinary life without ever thinking of even visiting Lebanon.  When in 2005 Rafic Hariri was assassinated, I told my husband and children that it was time to visit Lebanon because the country was probably going to enter a new period of unrest.  It was also time for me to face up to my repressed fears and my pain.
Memories came back.  Days and nights were spent with anxiety only at the thought of revisiting the country that I left ravaged by civil war.  To calm my fears, my husband decided to give this visit a context that will make it less stressful by including Cyprus and Syria in our itinerary before arriving to Lebanon.
We were in Cyprus when the London subway was bombed.  Greek Cypriots love Bashar El Assad as much as they hate Turks.  In Syria, despite the tensions on the Syrian Lebanese border, we were welcome.   I felt free, I felt secure.  I loved Damascus and the harmony between the communities.  All these years I was outside Lebanon and unable to think about it, it was there before my eyes.  I know this might seem an insult because many Syrians consider their government as opressive and themselves as lacking freedom.  But Syria in 2005 reminded very much of Lebanon before the civil war, it was my country lost and found again.
 Finally we went to Lebanon, and only because I visited Syria before and saw the possibility of different religions living together I was able to see Lebanon again without fear and negative feelings.  This is my personal connection to Syria.
I have not been posting on Syria on this blog because there is so much disinformation.  The revolution, in the beginning, seemed genuine to me. But also right from the beginning, there was evidence of lies and biases in Arab and western coverage of Syria.
The Guardian for instance has been misreprensenting the events, even though they pretend to have a reporter on site in Damascus. They had Katherine Marsh, and now they have Nidaa Hassan. For some reason, Brian Whitaker who has written well on the Middle east and the Arab world, has been openly anti Syrian regime right from the beginning of the events (Whitaker who is in charge of the middle east section at The Gaurdian wrote directly only rarely on Syria cince the beginning). The big elephant in this small room of information is Al-Jazeera who has been litteraly lashing out at the Syrian regime and not only presenting unreliable information from eyewitnesses but also manipulating the information.
There is also the gay girl in damascus story and it has come to represent the level of lies and manipulations in the information on the Syrian revolution 2011 to the point that soon enough Syrian auhtorities will be accused of the disappearance of a fictional character. This is kafkaesque!
Serious analyses are lacking.  The left leaning Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar has published some useful articles on Syria but they are not making their way into other news oultets and they are not cited.
Here are two of them that caught my attention:
And there are facts and analyses by journalists, political analysts and political scientists which were never mentioned in the blogs and Syria news aggregators that are read by Syrians anxious to find a way out to the turmoil in their country:
The weak foundations of Arab democracies: the author puts the blame on Islam and its inability to foster a vital civil society, a necessary condition for democracy, the real one, not the one that is being crafted by the neoliberal cons for Syria and the Arab world.
Understanding Syria’s unrests: the author mentions as early as April 11th, the danger of armed gangs
A third way on Syria is possible, but nobody is listening…
Nir Rosen: Prospects for the sectarian terrai in the middle east, part 1, part 2.
The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood by Gary Gambill (an article from 2006 but of some interest to what is happening today in Syria).
The Syrian Baath by Eric Rouleau (1967, English). Sometimes, it is useful to have a look back.
The confrontation in Syria has also changed rapidly. The so called Syrian revolution 2011 has mutated into an armed insurgency against the regime. They have strong elements from the neighbouring Muslim Brotherhood and from external powers including Israel who have stakes in fomenting a civil war in Syria. External powers, especially Israel, have no interest in the emergence of a vibrant Syrian economy and Syrian society, I wonder how those Syrians who are monitoring the Syrian revolution 2011 from Washington DC, Maryland, or Sweden cannot see this, but they are blinded by their hate for Assad. There is no opposition in Syria today if one means by opposition a unified assembly of people having common goals for the country, there is only chaos powered by hate for the Assads and organised by ennemies of Syria in which a minority of Syrians are participating taking hostage some 70% of the population in Damascus and Aleppo. This is not to say that there isn’t a need for genuine reforms in Syria and a transition to social justice and freedom (you will never hear the word democracy in my posts because the term, as it is promoted by Neo Liberal Cons and western powers as an excuse to invade Arab countries is now in disrepute), this is to say that the Syrian revolution 2011 is the perfect example of organised chaos, far from being a platform for reforms, social justice and individual freedoms.
One has to feel responsibility for the country and the people when trying to change the order of things. I am not seeing this in any known representative of the Syrian revolution 2011 and the people they are sending to protest are poor and desperate people. So far, this revolution is represented in the outside by people funded by external powers who are not friends of Syria and inside by disenfranchised people. There are no women, no families, no students, no businessmen, no professionals, no intellectuals in these protests. Meanwhile the traditional opposition sits silent and departs from its silence only to mention that it is up to the Shabab (youth) on the streets to assume the revolution.  It makes me sad,  these old revolutionaries would like to think that there is a real revolutionary spirit on the streets.   There is.  But sadly, there is also a foreign funded armed insurgency which nobody knows for sure how it will end.
Today is the ‘Day Of The Clans’ of the Syrian opposition who is hoping to rally the clans of Syria. Just the title makes me suspicious of this opposition. If  clanims is going to be part of the new Syria then you can say bye bye to reforms with this opposition (not to mention democracy of course, even their democracy and not mine). They are only going to topple Assad by replacing him with another dictatorship, fragilise the country’s ethnic mosaics, its economy,  put an end to the last secular regime in the Arab world, and open the door to a more docile Syria.  That’s the price of freedom, if only they would get their freedom, and if only it will end there but it won’t.  By ending secular governments in favour of sectarian and theocratic governments, the conditions are set for more tensions in the region.  I hope Syrians will find a way out of this mess and wish them well.
Publié par Sophia à l’adresse 11.6.11 

Syria : the courage it takes

[youtube http://youtu.be/KaP0OuE9uIw?]

In Damascus at Shalan

Long live Palestine : the song

Ghassan Kanafani


ONE

Introduction

Ghassan Kanafani was born in Acre in 1936, and his family was expelled from Palestine in 1948 by Zionist terror, after which they finally settled in Damascus. After completing his studies, he worked as a teacher and journalist, first in Damascus, and then in Kuwait. Later he moved to Beirut and wrote for several papers before starting Al Hadaf, the weekly paper of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), in 1969.To begin with, Kanafani was an active member of the Arab Nationalist Movement, the forerunner of the PFLP, but later, along with his comrade George Habash, he became a Marxist, believing that the solution to the problems which faced the Palestinians could not be achieved without a social revolution throughout the Arab world.Kanafani was killed when his car exploded in July 1972: murdered by Zionist agents. His sister wrote:

“On the morning of Saturday, July 8, 1972, at about 10:30 am, Lamees (Kanafani’s niece) and her uncle were going out together to Beirut. A minute after their departure, we heard the sound of a very loud explosion which shook the whole building. We were immediately afraid, but our fear was for Ghassan and not for Lamees because we had forgotten that Lamees was with him and we knew that Ghassan was the target of the explosion. We ran outside, all of us were calling for Ghassan and not one of us called for Lamees. Lamees was still a child of seventeen years. Her whole being was longing for life and was full of life. But we knew that Ghassan was the one who had chosen this road and who had walked along it. Just the previous day Lamees had asked her uncle to reduce his revolutionary activities and to concentrate more upon writing his stories. She had said to him, “Your stories are beautiful,” and he had nswered, “Go back to writing stories? I write well because I believe in a cause, in principles. The day I leave these principles, my stories will become empty. If I were to leave behind my principles, you yourself would not respect me.’ He was able to convince the girl that the struggle and the defense of principles is what finally leads to success in everything.”

In the memoir which Ghassan Kanafani’s wife published after his death, she wrote:

“His inspiration for writing and working unceasingly was the Palestinian-Arab struggle…He was one of those who fought sincerely for the development of the resistance movement from being a nationalist Palestinian liberation movement into being a pan-Arab revolutionary socialist movement of which the liberation of Palestine would be a vital component. He always stressed that the Palestine problem could not be solved in isolation from the Arab World’s whole social and political situation.”

This attitude developed naturally out of Kanafani’s own experiences. At the age of twelve he went through the trauma of becoming a refugee, and thereafter he lived as an exile in various Arab countries, not always with official approval. His people were scattered, many of them making a living in the camps or struggling to make a living by doing the most menial work; their only hope lay in the future and in their children. Kanafani himself, writing to his son, summed up what it means to be a Palestinian:

“I heard you in the other room asking your mother, ‘Mama, am I a Palestinian?’ When she answered ‘Yes’ a heavy silence fell on the whole house. It was as if something hanging over our heads had fallen, its noise exploding, then – silence. Afterwards…I heard you crying. I could not move. There was something bigger than my awareness being born in the other room through your bewildered sobbing. It was as if a blessed scalpel was cutting up your chest and putting there the heart that belongs to you…I was unable to move to see what was happening in the other room. I knew, however, that a distant homeland was being born again: hills, olive groves, dead people, torn banners and folded ones, all cutting their way into a future of flesh and blood and being born in the heart of another child…Do you believe that man grows? No, he is born suddenly – a word, a moment, penetrates his heart to a new throb. One scene can hurl him down from the ceiling of childhood onto the ruggedness of the road.”

“To our departed and yet remaining Comrade; you knew of two ways in life, and life knew from you only one. You knew the path of submission and you refused it. And you knew of the path of resistance and you walked with it. This path was chosen for you and you walked with it. And your comrades are walking with you.”

Read on

Syria : night protest at Daraa

Ken O’Keefe

In 2003. How right he was !

Bill Moyers : Buying the War

Click on image

A fascinating show/exposure on the preparation of the war in Iraq

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