Pro-democracy activists face unacceptable violence

3 May 2011

Pro-democracy activists in Syria are facing unacceptable levels of intimidation and violence at the hands of President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces, Socialist International says.

In recent days, human rights groups and news agencies report that nearly 600 people have been killed in a series of brutal government-led crackdowns on thousands of Syrians campaigning for widespread reform and an end to the Assad regime.

Following a wave of pro-democracy demonstrations in parts of the Middle East and North Africa, Syrians have joined regional calls for urgent change; demanding an end to Syria’s long-held emergency rule, the country’s one-party political system and widespread censorship.

While anti-government protests continue across the country, the city of Deraa has borne the brunt of the violence meted out against protesters since demonstrations erupted at the end of March. More than 70 people have been killed in the southern city since Friday, while hundreds more have been arrested and detained, the BBC reports.

Social networking sites Facebook and Twitter continue to play a crucial role in the anti-government movement, helping activists coordinate activities and ensure developments are broadcast to the outside world. Foreign journalists and international media organisations are currently banned from the country.

The SI condemns in the strongest possible terms the unjust and unlawful tactics being used by the Syrian government to silence the Syrian people. The continued targeting of those wishing to make their voice heard is an affront to democracy and the principles of freedom of speech and expression.