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Monday, October 10, 2011

31 killed in Syria today - but don't protest if you are in Lebanon

From Al Arabiya:

More than 30 people were killed in clashes across Syria, including 14 civilians and 17 soldiers, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday, as army forces continued to pound the cities of Homs and Qamishli.

Seven of the 14 civilians killed on Sunday were gunned down by security forces in the central city of Homs, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that seven others were killed in other towns.

Seventeen security personnel died the same day in clashes with mutinous troops refusing orders to shoot on anti-regime protesters, the watchdog said.

“It was like a war scene in Homs, where blasts and sound bombs were heard all over town, with heavy machine guns also being fired,” said officials with the Local Coordination Committees (LCC), which organizes protests on the ground.

“A lot of homes were destroyed. Nine people were killed and dozens wounded. Security agents and pro-regime militias prevented ambulances from evacuating the wounded,” the officials said.

It said the regime “attacked the Homs region in yet another desperate effort to make its free residents bow and to snuff out the revolution.”

Activists said Army forces pounded Qamishli through the night on Sunday. The city was the scene of a mass rally on Saturday against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad during the funeral of Mishaal Tammo.

Gunmen shot Tammo, a Kurdish opposition figure, dead on Friday in his home in the east of the country, activists said.
In Lebanon, Kurds protested the murder of Tammo - and learned their own lesson:
A group of Syrian Kurds decided to organize a small demonstration in front of the Syrian Embassy in Beirut on Sunday to protest the assassination of an opposition leader and key member of the Syrian National Council, Meshal Temmo, who was a Syrian Kurd himself.

Temmo’s assassination came at a very critical time for the Syrians, immediately after the formation of the SNC, and the group of Syrian Kurds in Beirut wanted to express their resentment. According to activists at the scene, Lebanese security services erected extensive checkpoints that delayed and prohibited the arrival of seven buses carrying demonstrators to the embassy. The protest still took place, but not many could attend.

Surprisingly, this time Lebanese security protected the protesters who made it to the demonstration from a group of thugs who, as usual, went to break up the event.

But the incident did not end there. That night in the neighborhood of Dora, members of the Lebanese intelligence service brutally attacked and humiliated Syrian Kurd workers who participated in the demonstration.

They delivered the message that no one is allowed to demonstrate in support of freedom in Syria.
That same Now Lebanon article also talks about another example of the chilling of freedom of expression in Lebanon:

Three film directors were banned from travelling to Lebanon by the Iranian authorities. Iranian Nader Davoodi, Iranian Kurd Babak Amin and Iraqi Kurd Ibrahim Saeedi were not allowed to come to Lebanon to attend the screening of their films, “Red, White and Green,” “I Wish Someone Was There Waiting for Me,” and “Mandoo” at the Beirut Film Festival.

These directors are probably heading for a tough trial by the Iranian authorities, and that’s probably why the festival’s administration decided to pull the most controversial one, Davoodi’s “Red, White and Green,” after Lebanese censorship authorities requested to see the film before its screening. The film focuses on the violent events of the three weeks leading up to the disputed June 2009 re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Lebanese authorities did not even have to ban the film, but only made a simple call, which instilled enough fear among the festival’s administration to pull it. This fear is based on previous incidents when the same authorities banned Lebanese, Arab and Iranian films from the BFF and other festivals. Because festivals rely heavily on the Lebanese authorities for licenses and passes, some believe it is safer not to challenge authorities; otherwise, the whole festival could be shut down.