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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/6/11

"Rendered" Canadian Blasts Assad, Living "in a state of denial."

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Diplomats and some opposition figures continue to urge the government to
undertake national dialogue. Over the past few weeks, Assad has met with
local delegations, and reportedly reached out to some national figures.

But Syrian observers said such efforts were a farce: "They have quashed the
opposition and thrown intellectuals into jail," said Ayman Abdel Nour, a
Syrian dissident in Dubai. Opposition figures and activists still at large told
the Guardian they would not consider meetings until the violence stopped.

That did not seem imminent as witnesses said tanks were seen heading for
areas around Homs central Syria.

Homs is the largest city in Syria to experience persistant protests calling for
the end of Assad's 11-year rule, while 17 were shot dead in nearby Rastan on

A witness told Reuters he had seen 30 tanks and at least 60 trucks filled with
soldiers, days after an eyewitness described to the Guardian the area around
Rastan as looking like a "war zone".

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information has denounced what it
says is a "trend  of journalists disappearing in Syria  in mysterious

Dorothy Parvaz , a journalist working for channel alJazeera disappeared last
Friday and all and communications with her failed after her arrival at
Damascus airport. The Algerian journalist,  Khalid Si Mohand, who is
stationed in Damascus and works for  Radio France International, also
disappeared April 9 in mysterious circumstances.

According to alJazeera, Ms. Parvaz, 39, who holds  American, Canadian and
Iranian passports, went to Damascus on Friday to join the  channel crew and
to participate in the coverage of the events of peaceful protests in Syria. But
contact with her was lost after leaving the plane at Damascus International
Airport. So far there has been no information on her whereabouts, her
condition, the reasons for her disappearance, or her fate.

Despite the lack of information about these journalists, the Arabic Network
believes that the Syrian authorities are mainly responsible, especially as it is
the only power in Syria, which is "trying to impose  media blackout on
events to hide the suppression to public freedoms and the  brutal assaults
against the Syrian citizens for using their right to peaceful protest to demand
democratic reforms in the country."

Another well-respected human rights organization, the Cairo Institute for
Human Rights Studies, is gravely concerned about the Syrian authorities'
continued insistence on using excessive force to break up ongoing peaceful
protests demanding the right to dignity and democratic freedoms.

CIHRS believes that the repressive security approach undertaken by the
Syrian regime "once again proves the utter lack of genuine will to engage in
serious reform and exposes the falsity of recent official promises of reform
meant to circumvent Syrians' democratic entitlements and absorb the anger
at home and abroad following the brutal crackdown that left at least 123
people dead. Most of the victims died in peaceful protests that have taken
place since the second half of March, starting first in Deraa and spreading to
several other Syrian provinces."

The group noted that Syrian President al-Assad admitted a few days ago that
reform had been too long delayed in Syria and that the country might face
destructive dangers if it did not embark on reform. However, "these exalted
phrases found their practical application in further violence against peaceful
protests called for by forces demanding democratic freedoms, which has led
to the death of an additional 100 people in the first half of April," the group
said, adding that most of the victims were killed in demonstrations in
Latakia, Deir al-Zor, Damascus, Baniyas, in addition to Deraa.

While the official media and presidential aides reported that a decision had
been made to lift the state of emergency that has been in force in Syria since
1963, President al-Assad quickly dispelled this notion. Instead, he seems to
be following in the footsteps of deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak
by issuing orders to draft a new counterterrorism law to replace the
emergency law.

"The practices of the Syrian authorities clearly show that the Baath regime is
incapable of learning the lesson from the revolutionary uprisings in the Arab
region, which have thus far led to the downfall of two of the most
recalcitrant examples of police rule in the Arab world - Egypt and Tunisia -
and which are shaking the thrones of tyrants in Libya and Yemen," the
CIHRS said.

It further warned that continued repression and deception by the Syrian
regime to avoid addressing demands for reform and democracy "threaten to
throw the country into an intractable spiral of violence."

The group is calling on the UN Human Rights Council to convene a Special
Session to discuss the rapidly deteriorating situation in Syria and consider
measures to end the abuses of the Syrian authorities.

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WILLIAM FISHER Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)
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