Syrians rally for democratic future, end of atrocities

Waving Syrian flags, Syrian Americans gathered in front of the Saudi Embassy to draw attention to the opposition movement defying the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The rally came just after Assad assented to a UN-negotiated cease-fire, but the UN said he hadn’t yet fully complied with its peace plan. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned against half-measures, saying in a press conference, “The Annan plan is not a menu of options. It is a set of obligations.” Apparently committing the US to political transition, Clinton said, “Assad will have to go and the Syrian people must be given the chance to chart their own future.”

Called the Syrian Women and Children Rally, supporters chanted “Free, free Syria!” and “We want democracy, not hypocrisy!” A speaker said, “We are here to tell the whole world that there is a massacre happening in Syria right now. We are here to support our brothers and sisters in Syria.”

The rally was held in front of the Saudi Embassy out of gratitude to its government–one sign read “Thank you Saudis for supporting the Syrian Revolution”–and to ask for more measures like a no-fly zone and a safe haven on the Turkish border.

“The Saudi Embassy representative welcomed us and thanked us for being here, and said they supported us 100%,” organizer Nagia Kurabi said.

The crowd of about 50 was largely made up of women of all ages, who highlighted the current plight of women and girls in Syria: “When a girl gets raped in Syria, we are all raped.”

17-year-old Hania Hamwi of Arlington, VA said it was important to get the message out to people in America that Syrians need help. “Children are so innocent,” she said. “Why should Assad’s soldiers go into a house a rape a woman in front of her child? The least I can do is be out here.”

At the Islamic Center on Massachusetts Ave., the demonstrators raised the Syrian revolutionary flag without permission before moving on to protest at the Syrian embassy.

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Hungry for freedom, protestors at White House mark a year of revolt in Syria

Syrians and Syrian Americans gathered in the hundreds in the front of the White House to protest the atrocities committed by President Bashar al-Bassad on those who oppose his regime.

As the Washington Post reports:

A year after the tentative first stirrings of what is becoming the Arab world’s bloodiest and most far-reaching revolt, whole cities are under siege. Residential neighborhoods lie in ruins. More than 8,000 people are dead, tens of thousands have been detained, untold numbers have been tortured, others are missing, and nearly a quarter-million have been displaced from their homes, according to the United Nations.

A sea of green, white and black flags with red stars filled Lafayette Park as protestors sang songs in Syrian. They also chanted, “There is only one solution–Revolution, revolution!” and “Russia, China, you will fail!” Russia and China have resisted efforts in the UN Security Council to condemn the violent crackdown against the opposition forces.

Many people came from distant places specifically to be at the protest. Lynn, 14, from Seattle, WA, said she was there “for Syria to be free.”

Ranya, Noorah and Rama, all young Syrian American women from Michigan, also came to Washington, DC to oppose the regime’s killing of civilians. Noorah said that while no family members had been killed, some had fled the country and others felt threatened by the situation. Ranya called the current regime “beyond evil,” and she was “shocked that the international community could remain silent and inactive.”

One of the worst affected cities is Homs, which was besieged for 27 days until government forces overran the opposition stronghold Bab Amr earlier this month. Protestor Fadiakarh, originally from Homs but who now lives in Chicago, said the regime’s actions are “genocide at many levels,” and that it is unacceptable that “only 12% of the population are in charge.” He was referring to the Alawites, the branch of Shia Muslims which includes President al-Bassad.

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