While the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt were broadly televised, there has been very little coverage in the main stream media of the events in Syria so far. Local journalists cannot risk covering the protests openly, and international journalists have limited access. Most information gets out via social media networks –Twitter and Facebook abound with videos, live updates and eyewitness accounts. Yet it is difficult to get a coherent picture of events, and often the origin of news cannot be verified.
To provide our readers with a thorough and reliable view of the uprising in Syria, Damascus Bureau will, in cooperation with the Syrian organization “Kafa Samtan”, produce a daily Revolution Digest that sums up the most important news and developments as well as videos and international reactions. All news come from reliable sources inside Syria and is gathered with the utmost effort for accuracy. Damascus Bureau is not responsible for the content of external links. Please note that some of the videos might contain graphic footage.
A quick look back
At noon on March 16, 2011 a group of protesters gathered in front of the Ministry of Interior in Damascus. Families of political prisoners had called for the peaceful vigil to hand over a letter to the minister to demand the release of their loved ones and were joined by human right defenders and activists. In total, about 200 to 300 people came. After a few minutes – the first family members had just taken out the pictures of their imprisoned fathers, husbands, sons or daughters – security forces and anti-riot police forcefully broke up the crowd. According to witnesses, the peaceful protesters, men and women alike, were heavily beaten up; cameras and cell phones were confiscated. People were especially shocked by the brutal public treatment of women and children – one of the arrested was a ten-year old boy. In total 40 people were arrested, of which about 20 were released the same day.
Three days later, on March 18, the “Friday of Dignity”, protests started in five different cities in Syria: In Damascus, Daraa, Homs, Banias and Deir Ezzor Syrians took to the streets. Police and security forces quelled the protests – most brutally in Daraa where several thousand protesters had marched from the al-Omari Mosque, calling for greater political freedom. Two week earlier, 15 children had been arrested in Daraa for writing anti-government graffiti on school walls. The situation in Daraa had been tense since.