Syrian protesters mark six months of revolt

DAMASCUS — UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for “coherent” global action over Syria’s deadly crackdown on dissent Thursday and the European parliament demanded the immediate departure of President Bashar al-Assad.

By (AFP)

Published: Sat 17 Sep 2011, 12:18 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:41 AM

As Syria marked six months of anti-regime protests, opposition figures identified members of a “National Council” and protesters urged more rallies, undaunted by the crackdown that has killed more than 2,600 people.

“Enough is enough,” said the increasingly frustrated UN secretary general.

“When he has not been keeping his promises, enough is enough and the international community should really take coherent measures and speak in one voice,” Ban said about Assad.

Ban has had several telephone conversations with Assad since the protests erupted on March 15, during which the Syrian president repeatedly promised to end the bloody crackdown and institute political reforms.

“These promises have become now broken promises,” Ban said, adding that it was for UN member states and the UN Security Council to decide what action should be taken after Syria ignored repeated international appeals.

Western powers have called for a Security Council resolution laying out sanctions against Assad, but that is deadlocked because of opposition from Russia, China and other countries.

The European Parliament also put the squeeze on Assad, adopting a resolution asking him to quit for choosing repression instead of promised reforms.

Assad and his regime must “relinquish power immediately,” said the resolution, as MEPs condemned the use of force and called for a probe into the killings, arrests of regime opponents and alleged torture.

The resolution comes as EU member countries move to adopt further economic sanctions against the Syrian regime, which could include a ban on funding the Syrian central bank with notes printed in Europe.

Opposition figures gatherd in Turkey announced a list of names of members of the “Syrian National Council”, revealing only the identities of 72 of the 140-strong body for security reasons as 60 percent live in Syria, council member Abdel Basset Sidah said.

Spokeswoman Basma Qadmani said the council comprises “groups of revolutionary youth, political movements and personalities, activists and technocrats.”

Activists urged protests to take to the streets again on Friday, the Muslim day of weekly prayer when demonstrations tend to be the heaviest, for rallies under the slogan “we advance toward the fall of the regime.”

“Six months. More than ever determined to (continue) the March 15 uprising,” activists wrote on Facebook page The Syrian Revolution 2011, one of the main engines of the revolt.

“We have been massacred and we are more determined than ever; we have been thrown in prison and are more determined than ever,” the page said. “The revolution has burst forth and will not stop until the regime is overthrown.

“A new generation has been born in Syria during the six months of the revolution, a generation that refuses to be servile and to prostrate itself before images of the tyrant,” the page added.

The latest events follow another day of killings, with human rights activists saying security forces shot dead eight people, including a child, in a huge sweep on Wednesday against anti-regime protesters in northwestern Syria.

And a Red Crescent ambulance driver wounded recently as he was rescuing people in Homs died on Thursday, activists said.

In other violence, state news agency SANA reported a bus driver was ambushed in the city of Hama by an “armed terrorist group,” while five soldiers and a guard shot dead by a similar group were buried in Aleppo and Homs.

Meanwhile, Syrian state television said it would broadcast Thursday evening the “confession” of Lieutenant Colonel Hussein Harmush, the first officer to publicly declare his desertion in early June to protest the government’s crackdown.

Harmush managed to leave Syria and had been leading the “Brigade of Free Officers,” a group of dozens of officers who have deserted the regime.

According to opposition sources in Damascus, he was recently captured in Turkey by Syrian intelligence agents and brought back to Syria.

The United Nations estimates the crackdown on protests has killed 2,600, mostly civilians, since March, while rights groups say thousands of people have been arrested.

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