How does it work?


How does the regime manage to get so many thousands of people to take part in its sham “popular” demonstrations of support to the President? Well, take the candle light vigil, for instance, in which a reported 50,000 students took part, though actual on the grounds estimate put the number at 20,000 only. All the authorities had to do in this case was to collect the ID of the students from different Syrian university all over the country, the IDs they have to sue in order to gain entrance to the exams hall, and voila.

Of course, the exams themselves were postponed because the referendum was conveniently timed to take place around the same time. This gave the authorities certain leverage over the students, who are being told these days that unless they showed that they have taken part in the referendum by showing their stamped electoral cards they will not be allowed to take their exams.

Government employees and all those working with the public sector are hearing the same song. All those who expect to have any kind of paperwork that would require governmental approval, and almost everything in our wonderful socialist state would require that, are now being told that proof of participation will be required. The same rumors were heard around the time of the legislative elections, but this did not stop people from boycotting them en masse. Will the same happen this time around?

Well, we can surely expect some boycott to take place, and we will hopefully be able to document it to the world. But, whether we can accomplish as large a boycott as the one that took place with the legislative elections is anyone’s guess. We are willing to be happily surprised in this regard, and for his reason we should simply focus on the task at hand, while planning to tap into whatever popular currents that have boycotted, their size notwithstanding, in order to help organize themselves into more effective units for civil action in the days and months following the referendum. In all cases, our real work will begin after the boycott. 

Meanwhile, the rally will take place in front of the Syrian Embassy on Saturday 26th starting 12 pm. Please, do show up, the more people take part in this exercise the stronger the message that will be sent to the Assad regime, the Syrian people, and the world. 

Meanwhile, Lebanon is dancing more “energetically” than ever to the drumbeat of the jungle that the Assads continue to foster.

Update: Akhbar al-Sharq reports here on another way for gathering potential demonstrators: the authorities in al-Hasakeh province withdrew the licenses of all taxi drivers in order to “convince” them of the wisdom of taking part in the spontaneous demonstrations of support that took place there. Meanwhile, our reporters in Damascus has reported several spontaneous demonstrations organized by preparatory school teachers, who allowed their students to roam their districts chanting songs of support to Bashar.

And in a place not too far away, the Tharwa Team is busy fighting another battle for freedom. More from our new office there. For English speaker, this short report will give an idea.

Bahrain hit by a second night of unrest
Deutsche Presse-Agentur
May 21, 2007 Monday 10:20 AM EST

The Gulf island of Bahrain witnessed a second night of violent clashes between protesters and police Sunday night, which concentrated mainly in Shiite villages. 

The clashes mark the second night in a row of violence between supporters of the opposition movement Haq (Right) and police.  

Police moved to break-up a solidarity gathering attended by Haq general secretary Hassan Mushaima, and the executive director of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who were about to face trial on Monday on security charges including the call for the overthrow of the regime.  

Supporters gathered in front of Mushaima’s home in Jidhafs, on the outskirts of the capital Manama Sunday night and attempted to link-up with a march from near-by al-Masala village when police intervened.  

Clashes broke-out between the police and opposition supporters in Jidhafs village before it spread to the nearby Shiite villages of Sanabis and Daih as similar violent clashes broke out in villages in the country’s north and east.  

Protesters hurled Molotov cocktails at police who entered the villages to clear the roads and drive away protesters. There were conflicting reports about injuries on both sides.  

The clashes come just a night after Ibrahim Shareef, the secretary general of the second largest opposition grouping in Bahrain the National Democratic Action Society also known as Waad (promise), was injured Saturday night during clashes with police.