Thousands of protesters again marched Thursday in Deraa, home to protest in southern Syria, where repression by security forces have killed 37 people just on Wednesday, according to medical sources.
In this near the Jordanian border, security forces opened fire on hundreds of young men marched shouting “Freedom”. Disorders will have at least 44 dead since they broke out Friday after the great prayer weekly.
The toll of the clashes on Wednesday could be even higher. We’re talking about dozens of bodies Tafas transferred to hospital, just outside of town, but the information is unverifiable.
Faced with this unprecedented popular revolt over 20 years, President Bashar al-Assad said he had not given orders to fire on the crowd at Deraa.
His adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban, said the head of state would establish a commission to study the lifting of the state of emergency in force since 1963.
Finally, Assad has promised legislation on freedom of the press and on political parties. Moments later, however, we learned that the activist human rights and defender of freedom of expression Mazen Darwish before been stopped by security.
He had participated last week in a demonstration for the release of political prisoners, a key demand of the Syrian opposition.
They have also rejected as too timid measures announced by Shaaban, insisting on the early release of thousands of political prisoners, the immediate lifting of emergency rule and the restoration of freedoms of expression and assembly.
“The blood of martyrs”
Thursday, at least 20,000 people gathered in the cemetery south of Deraa for the funeral of several protesters killed the day before, witnesses said. The procession has turned into political protest. “The blood of martyrs will not be shed in vain,” chanted the participants.
If the presence of the secret police and special police in black uniforms, was more visible since the troubles began last Friday, the army was in retreat.
But according to witnesses, hundreds of soldiers armed with AK-47 automatic rifles were introduced, patrolling in the rain in the streets of the city, and dozens were on duty at major intersections to prevent public gatherings.
Travelers crossed near the city Wednesday evening said they had seen military convoys that have transported up to 2,000 soldiers to Deraa.
The city, located a hundred kilometers south of Damascus, has long been a stronghold of the Baath party in power since the coup of 1963. Many of its managers come from this region.
But it has become these days the most active focus of the protest movement of the regime of President Bashar el Assad, who attributed the unrest to “external elements” and to “armed gangs”.
In Damascus and in the provinces, the wall of fear that prevented any challenge also seems to crack. Posters other than those ubiquitous, to the glory of President Assad and the “historical achievements” of the Baath Party, have appeared. They all claim “Freedom”.
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for a “transparent investigation” into violence on Wednesday.
In Paris, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, has again urged Syria to engage in political reform. “We urge him to stop the repression, listen to the voice of dialogue and democratic changes,” he told reporters.
His British counterpart, William Hague, has meanwhile called on Damascus to respect the right of its people to demonstrate peacefully. Westerwelle, head of German diplomacy, demanded an immediate end to violence.