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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Syrians torturing protesters - to get their Facebook passwords

From The Telegraph (UK) yesterday:

Protest organisers have set up the Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page and have promised that "demonstrations will continue every day".

However, amateur video footage showing the violent suppression of protests has dwindled to a trickle amid signs that the regime could be gaining the upper hand after more than seven weeks of anti-government protests.

"The lines of communication have almost been completely severed," one activist said.

"Some of our people who have been taken have been broken under the most severe torture, and they have revealed passwords and names."

Activists admitted that many of the once-secure networks they used on sites such as Facebook and Twitter had been compromised following a campaign of mass detentions in which more than 8,000 protesters have been arrested.

Over the past two days, almost no video footage has emerged from the town of Baniyas and very little from the city of Homs, despite military sieges having been imposed on both places. With Western journalists barred from entering Syria, individuals have taken it upon themselves to smuggle out footage to reveal the full horrors of the regime's response to the protests, in which at least 650 people, possibly many more, are thought to have died.

Organisers of the uprising have depended on technology. Although the regime has cut off power as well as mobile and land telephone lines in many of the worst affected towns and cities, activists have got round the system by using generators and satellite telephones smuggled in by foreign sympathisers.

With these tools, they have powered up laptops and transmitted images to fellow activists who have then broadcast them to the world on the internet.

Iran is said to have provided the Syrian government with technology for blocking satellite telephone signals that it used to crush protests in Tehran in 2009.

Many of the activists who distributed the images have also fallen silent after they were arrested or cowed into submission. Activists said that some passwords that were disclosed as a result of torture had revealed the identities of many of those at the forefront of the protests and that they too had now been rounded up.
I had noticed that the number of videos had gone down over the weekend, but there seem to be more coming out today, including this one showing gunshots at a protest in Deir al-Zour:


The BBC adds:
Reports from Syria say columns of tanks have moved towards the central city of Hama, which has been the scene of anti-government protests in recent weeks.

Earlier, the UN said it was concerned it had been unable to get humanitarian aid to the embattled city of Deraa.
The humanitarian aid referred to is specifically to 30,000 Palestinian Arab "refugees" in Deraa, via UNRWA.

The best place to get up to date information is from Now Lebanon!

(h/t Mike)