03/12/2012 - #Syria - Hasaka - Demonstration against Assad regime
#Syria Nov 24/12 Kurds and Arabs …. Syrians gathered together to say no to fighting between brothers …
A plea for unity from Qamishli
Thousands of civilians, especially in the governorates of Damascus and Aleppo, are struggling to stay safe. Despite facing increasing challenges over the past three weeks, the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent assisted over 125,000 people affected by violence in several parts of Syria.
“Though the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are doing everything possible to assist civilians affected by the violence, it is also up to the parties to the conflict to take every feasible measure to spare the civilian population the effects of the fighting,” said Marianne Gasser, the head of the ICRC delegation in Syria.
“As the situation began to worsen in Damascus, it became very difficult for our staff to move about in and around the city to bring aid to the civilian population,” said Ms Gasser. “Needs have been growing very fast, so the ICRC has had to quickly adapt its way of working to be able to meet them in partnership with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.”
As fighting flared up in the governorate of Aleppo, in the north of Syria, thousands of people left their homes and began pouring into public buildings, now used as temporary shelters. Over 80 schools in several parts of the governorate are currently hosting civilians who have fled the fighting. “Aleppo is of particular concern to the ICRC, not only because of its distant geographical location, but because the Syrian Arab Red Crescent had to suspend most of its activities owing to extreme danger on the ground,” said Ms Gasser. “Still, dozens of volunteers have continued to work under extremely difficult conditions to meet the growing needs of the civilian population.”
To help the Red Crescent cope with the mounting need for humanitarian aid, the ICRC managed to deliver enough food and other essentials to Aleppo governorate today to cover the needs of at least 12,500 people.
Many health-care facilities are also finding it ever more challenging to treat the injured because their services have been disrupted by the violence, and medical items are scarce. The ICRC has sent enough medical supplies to treat between 250 and 1,000 casualties, depending on the seriousness of their injuries. Over the past two weeks, the ICRC arranged repeatedly for water and sanitation technicians to ensure that schools had enough clean water to cover the needs of the displaced people taking shelter in them and to preserve sanitary conditions despite frequent overcrowding.
Though humanitarian efforts over the past few weeks have focused on Damascus and Aleppo, needs in other parts of the country remain high. In Homs city, thousands of people have taken shelter in schoolhouses and other public buildings, some for several weeks already. The ICRC has delivered a one-month supply of food for over 20,000 people in the city. For several months, access to water has also been a serious concern for the majority of the people in Homs. To help the city cope with water shortages, the ICRC has installed a 1,000 kilowatt-amp generator to boost the capacity of the Ain Al-Tanour pumping stations, which supply 80 per cent of the drinking water for the city’s combined resident and displaced population of 800,000. To help the Syrian Arab Red Crescent deal with the persisting humanitarian needs in Hama, Idlib, Lattakia, Raqqa and Hassakeh governorates, the ICRC has delivered a one-month supply of food for more than 43,000 civilians.
The ICRC currently has 50 staff members working in Syria. Together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, ICRC staff have been assisting tens of thousands of people in all parts of the country who have so far been affected by the violence.
Over the past three weeks, in cooperation with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the ICRC has:
delivered enough supplies to treat between 250 and 1,000 casualties to Aleppo, and wound-dressing and other materials to the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in Damascus;
equipped the Red Crescent’s four mobile health units, which have been providing primary health care and medicines in schools hosting displaced people in Damascus;
provided more than 125,000 mainly displaced people in and around Damascus city and in Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Idlib, Lattakia, Hassakeh and Raqqa with over 25,000 food parcels, together with one-kilogram packs of dates and dried apricot to mark the holy month of Ramadan, to help them cope for one month;
helped the Red Crescent’s Aleppo branch improve access to safe drinking water in 10 schools hosting an estimated 2,000 people, and also helped improve access to safe drinking water and improve sanitary conditions in Damascus and Rural Damascus for over 68,000 people who recently fled the fighting and are staying in 27 schools and residential areas;
continued to ensure that more than 300,000 people accommodated in over 100 schoolhouses in Homs have an ample supply of clean water;
delivered nearly 10,000 mattresses to schoolhouses and other public buildings hosting displaced people in and around Damascus city and in Aleppo and Homs, and 2,000 sets of hygiene items to Aleppo.
For further information, please contact:
Rabab Al-Rifaï, ICRC Damascus, tel: +963 993 700 847 or +963 11 331 0476
Cecilia Goin, ICRC Beirut, tel: +961 353 1694
Hicham Hassan, ICRC Geneva: tel: +41 22 730 25 41 or +41 79 536 92 57
Article by: ZEINA KARAM , Associated Press
Updated: April 18, 2012 - 1:46 AM
BEIRUT - Syria’s Kurds, who have long complained of discrimination under President Bashar Assad, would seem a natural fit to join the revolt against his rule. Instead, they are growing increasingly distrustful of an opposition they see as no more likely to grant them their rights.
Kurdish parties angrily pulled out of a recent conference aimed at unifying the opposition ranks after participants ignored their demands for more rights and recognition in a post-Assad Syria.
A few days after the withdrawal, while the rest of the country was protesting against Assad, Kurds in their main cities of Qamishli and Hasakeh protested against the predominantly Sunni Arab opposition, demanding it back a system that would give them greater say over their own affairs. “We want federalism,” some protesters shouted, carrying red, white and green Kurdish flags.
Tens of thousands of Kurds have been joining in weekly protests against Assad’s regime. But suspicion of the opposition has kept many of Syria’s estimated 2.5 million Kurds — more than 10 percent of the population — sitting on the fence amid the country’s turmoil. As a result, they effectively join Christians, Alawites and other key minorities whose fear for the future if Assad’s secular regime collapses has kept them from joining the uprising in force.
Both the Damascus government and the opposition have courted the Kurds but neither have been willing to make full concessions. The Kurds are also hampered by their own divisions among multiple parties and factions, one of which is accused of openly siding with Assad’s regime.
“The Kurds are being used as political pawns in the battle between Assad’s regime and opposition forces,” said Fares Tammo, whose father, Mashaal Tammo, one of the most vocal and charismatic Kurdish opposition figures, was assassinated in October by gunmen who burst into his apartment in northern Syria.
The Kurds’ hesitation also underlines a major problem for the opposition: its overwhelmingly Sunni Arab nature and the perception that it is dominated by Islamic hard-liners who will discriminate against minorities if given a chance at power.
Omar Hossino, a Washington-based Syrian-American researcher, said it is key to the uprising’s success for the main opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Council, to integrate the Kurds.
“This in turn could not only reassure other minority groups fearful of Arab Sunni Islamist majoritarianism, but would also guarantee a more pluralist regime in the post-Assad period,” said Ossino.
Still, many in the opposition react to Kurdish demands much like the Assad regime always has. They see the demands as a call to split the country, particularly Kurds’ hope for a federal system that would give them self-rule similar to northern Iraq’s autonomous region of Kurdistan.
The SNC’s chief further angered Kurds with an interview published Monday in which he told Kurds not to cling to the “useless illusion” of federalism.
“It is interpreted as a Kurdish demand for separatism,” Burhan Ghalioun told the Iraqi Kurdish newspaper Rudaw. “The SNC refuses to give the Kurds self-rule because there is no part of Syria where Kurds represent 100 percent of the population … There is no such thing as Syrian Kurdistan.”
He said that if Kurds throw their weight behind the uprising, it would “strengthen their position in the future to demand their rights” and to have a greater role “in Syria in general.”
Mustafa Osso, secretary general of the Azadi Kurdish Party in Syria, said Ghalioun’s comments will “discourage Kurdish parties from joining the SNC.”
“The Kurds have a right to self-determination and one of the options is federalism,” he told The Associated Press. “Federalism is absolutely not the same thing as separatism, which we reject.”
Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria, centered in the poor northeastern provinces of Hasakeh and Qamishli, wedged between the borders of Turkey and Iraq. Areas of the capital Damascus and Syria’s largest city of Aleppo also have sizable Kurdish communities. The Kurdish ethnic group stretches into contiguous areas of Turkey, Iraq and Iran.
Syrian Kurds have long complained of neglect and discrimination. Assad’s government for years argued they are not citizens at all.
They rose up in 2004, clashing with security forces in Qamishli, the capital of Syria’s Kurdish heartland, after a brawl between Kurdish and Arab supporters of rival soccer teams. The unrest spread to the nearby cities of Hasaka and Aleppo. At least 25 people were killed, and the clashes gave Damascus a pretext to further crack down on the Kurds.
Now Assad’s regime has sought to assuage the Kurds enough to prevent them from joining the current revolt against his rule, which erupted early last year. Security forces have refrained from using deadly force against protests that have occurred in Kurdish areas.
Early on, Assad ceded ground on a major Kurdish demand: In April last year, he granted citizenship to some 200,000 Kurds who were registered as aliens before. The decree excluded thousands of other Kurds known as “maktoumeen,” who are unregistered and have no identity cards.
“It was an obvious attempt to pacify us,” said Amina Farman, a 37-year-old Kurd who was among those who acquired citizenship. “I would have been happy and grateful to get it had the circumstances been different. Now it just feels like a meaningless buyout,” she said by phone from Qamishli.
Farman, who was born in Syria, can now for the first time vote, work legally and own property. But the regime still bans Kurds from publicly speaking in their own language or teaching it, prevents Kurdish political and cultural public gatherings and treats Kurds as second-class citizens.
Still, Farman is also not convinced by the opposition and is concerned about the growing militarization of the uprising.
“There’s something not quite right,” she said of the opposition’s disregard of Kurdish rights.
“We want to bring democracy to Syria,” she said. “We don’t want to replace tyranny with tyranny.”
Late last month, an opposition conference in Istanbul ignored Kurdish demands it support political decentralization and Kurdish rights in a post-Assad state. In response, the main Kurdish umbrella group, the Kurdish National Council, walked out of the gathering.
A few days later at a “Friends of Syria” meeting in Istanbul on April 3, SNC head Ghalioun read a national charter for the new Syria that included a pledge to uphold Kurdish rights. But the KNC called the wording too vague.
The Kurds are also suspicious about influence over the SNC by Turkey, which has a history of oppressing its own Kurds and which, they believe, does not want them to gain rights in Syria as well.
Turkey is concerned “that the role played by Kurds in Syria would reflect on Turkey’s Kurds, too,” the Germany-based Kurdish Center for Legal Studies and Consultancy said in an international appeal for support last week.
Fares Tammo, whose Kurdish Future Movement is the only Kurdish party in the SNC, defends his party’s presence in the council.
But, he admits, some of its members “see through chauvinist eyes and try their best to marginalize the Kurdish role.”
24 March 2012
In the northwest province of Idlib, ‘26 tanks entered Saraqeb and took up position to split the town in two,’ activist Nureddin Al Abdo told AFP from the town.
Explosions were heard and arrests were made as residents sheltered inside their homes, he said, adding that there was a considerable Free Syrian Army (FSA) presence in the town.
Abdo said the regime forces had already launched several search and arrest forays into Saraqeb.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said one man was shot dead by security forces in the town on Saturday and that a woman was also killed elsewhere in the province.
Security forces also shot dead a civilian at Khorbet Ghazaleh in southern Daraa province, the Britain-based Observatory said.
It was in Daraa that the revolt against the regime of President Bashar Al Assad first broke out in mid-March last year. Since then, at least 9,100 people have been killed, according to estimates by monitors.
The regime blames the violence on ‘armed terrorist groups.’
The Observatory also reported that the central protest hub of Homs and the nearby town of Qusayr have been under mortar fire from the army since early on Saturday.
It said four civilians were killed in Homs and three in Qusayr.
In the central province of Hama, the town of Qalaat Al Madiq which the military has been trying to take for two weeks also came under mortar bombardment and heavy machinegun fire, the NGO said.
The Observatory said three soldiers were killed in an ambush in northeastern Hassaka province, while another was killed in Daraa.
Meanwhile, ‘very violent’ clashes broke out in the Damascus area overnight, activist Mohammed Al Shami told AFP.
He reported that explosions and small arms fire could be heard across a large part of Damascus province and in districts of the city itself, as anti-regime protests were staged in Douma and Artuz close to the capital.
The Observatory on Saturday reported snipers and heavy armour in Douma.
A huge night-time demonstration also took place in the Kfar Sousa district of Damascus, where eight people were wounded on Friday when security forces opened fire to disperse protesters, videos posted on YouTube showed.
Videos posted by activists also featured overnight protests in several districts of Syria’s second city Aleppo.
Shami said the security services and Shabiha regime militiamen also launched search and arrest operations in the Damascus district of Al Asalli.
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