Posts Tagged ‘protests’

Fragment: The Audacity of.. Reform

No Comments »
Note: the article below is an incomplete fragment. It was written on April 16th; the day President Assad gave his second speech. I was interrupted before finishing it and it has remained a draft ever since. It lacks links, sources, fact/grammar checking. I publish it as is. Please do NOT quote elsewhere.

au·dac·i·ty/ôˈdasitē/Noun

1. The willingness to take bold risks: “her audacity came in handy during our most recent emergency”.
2. Rude or disrespectful behavior; impudence: “she had the audacity to pick up the receiver and ask me to hang up”.

I watched Al Assad’s second speech today, to the newly formed cabinet. The main change: he did not laugh. It’s hard to laugh when people are tearing your pictures apart and destroying statues of your late father and setting them on fire.

He opened by talking of conspiracy theories and infiltrators. Not too promising. There was definitely a change of tone from the previous speech and not interruptions with poetry or parroting chants like what happened at the parliament. However, removing status law is still going to take another couple of weeks. I expect it to be announced on a Thursday.

Algeria(?) lifted their emergency laws promptly after some protests. But in Syria we still need sometime. Time we can’t afford. We have a constitution, be it faulty as it is, so why does it need weeks just to be reinstated?

Giving hundreds of thousands of Kurds citizenship, and even the thought of  establishing a Parliamentary committee to study removing the emergency law were red lines. It was unthinkable that anyone would dare discuss them openly in the public sphere.

It took a few weeks of protests by– if you were to believe the Syrian official line– “infiltrators;” “conspirators;” “agents of Bandar, Hariri, Israel, and the US,” and trained foreign nationals to push the regime to announce that they’re going to give Syrians some of their basic rights back.

Assad talked audaciously for an hour about reform. I’ll leave it to you dear reader to choose which meaning of the word applies here. Meanwhile thousands of people are rotting in jails for committing though crimes against the “beloved leader”  and motherland. Convicted felons, thieves, frauds, and the average thug are released in hours with a .frequent presidential pardon. Bigmouths aren’t so lucky.

Adding insult to injury, Assad talked about ensuring citizens’ dignity, on day after his security forces tied down every man in Al Baida village in Baniyas for daring to protest. Heavily armed thugs gleefully walked all over the men tied down like cattle, frequently kicking them in the head and face and beating them with sticks.

Of course, the speech did not leave out political reform. Assad talked about improving life standards, supporting the drought impoverished  Eastern provinces, improving transparency in the public sector and economic processes as a whole. There was no mention of the economic titans–or Economic Bulldozers as they prefer– of Assad’s close circle, Makhlouf and Shalash, who have been treating the Syrian Economy as their personal trust fund for decades. A promising start indeed.

After the speech, some of my fellow Syrians were optimistic, hopeful, excited even with all the seemingly serious promises and apparent change in tone. I wonder how those promises are in anyway more serious than similar promises from Assad in 2000, or his promises two weeks ago that had a fair share of blood chilling jokes and chuckles as blood of Syrians were coloring the streets red.

For the time being, I’m going to hold on to my skepticism and cynicism. Studies show that cynics are more bitter than the average person, but also have a firmer grasp of reality. To my fellow Syrians that took the redpill and set themselves free I say: I’m forever humbled by your bravery and persistence. I’m honored to be your compatriot and had the pleasure of knowing some of you whether in person or online.

 


Spam Bots Flooding Twitter to Drown Info About #Syria Protests [Updated]

15 Comments »

Defining The Issues

People following the #Syria hash tag on Twitter in the recent weeks to track the developments of the Syrian protests and the deadly governmental crackdown on peaceful protesters must have noticed two major annoyances:

First was the proliferation of what tweeps dubbed as the “twitter eggs,” a group of newly created and mostly image-less twitter accounts that cussed out, verbally assaulted, and threatened anyone tweeting favorably about the ongoing protests, or criticizing the regime. Those accounts were believed to be manned by Syrian Mokhabarat[intelligence] agents with poor command of both written Arabic and English, and an endless arsenal of bile and insults. Several twitter users created lists to make it easier for the rest to track and report those accounts for spam. Here are a couple of examples.

Second, which is more damaging, is the creation of various spam accounts that mainly target #Syria hash tag; flooding it with predetermined set of tweets– every few minutes–about varied topics such as photography, old Syrian sport scores, links to Syrian comedy shows, pro-regime news, and threats against a long list of tweeps who expressed their support of the protests.

Identifying The Cause

At first I thought this was a badly timed annoyance, and several users were already reporting those abusive accounts. However, a couple of users apparently discovered some foul play. The parody account @SyrianPresident tweeted:

Stop it mukhabarat Twitter is not #Bashar’s spam machine! > @TheLovelySyria #Syria #Homs #Aleppo #Damascus #Lebanon http://is.gd/Plii1Z

and @syrianrebels responded:

@SyrianPresident it’s a company in Syria that send automated msgs, a dedicated owner they use server of @eghna check website #Syria branch

I went to investigate the Bahrain based Eghna Developement and Support*, which among other things provides “political campaign solutions.” I searched for any affiliation with Syria, and sure enough, one of the main suspected #Syria spam accounts was featured in their success stories page.

Eghna claims that “LovelySyria is using EGHNA Media Server to promote intersting photography about Syria using their twitter accounts. EGHNA Media Server helped Lovely Syria get attention to the beauty of Syria, and build a community of people who love the country and admire its beauty.” The only problem with that claim is that the lovelysyria.com website is only a Drupal login page void of content. There’s no way of creating a new user account, and therefore any claims of fostering a community are false.

Read the rest of this entry »


Urgent Call From Egypt

4 Comments »

I just received the following appeal via email which I’m publishing as is.

A Call to the People and Governments of the Free World

We call upon all of you to support the Egyptian people’s demands for a
good life, liberty and an end of despotism. We call upon you to urge
this dictatorial regime to stop its bloodshed of the Egyptian people,
exercised throughout the Egyptian cities, on top of which comes the
city of Suez. We believe that the material and moral support offered
to the Egyptian regime, by the American government and European
governments, has helped to suppress the Egyptian people.

We hereby call upon the people of the free world to support the
Egyptian people’s non-violent revolution against corruption and
tyranny. We also call upon civil society organisations in America,
Europe and the whole world to express their solidarity with Egypt,
through holding public demonstrations, particularly on People’s Anger
Day (28/01/2011), and by denouncing the use of violence against the
people.

We hope that you will all support our demands for freedom, justice and
peaceful change.

Egyptian National Coalition


نصائح وقائية هامة للمتظاهرين في مصر وتونس

1 Comment »

كنت أتابع المظاهرات في تونس ومصر بكل إعجاب وفخر، وأنا مع المتظاهرين (قلباً وإن لم أكن معهم جسداً) حتى التغلب على آخر مستبد في بلادنا. أثناء تصفحي للإنترنت وجدت نصائح هامة وقيمة موجهة للمتظاهرين، وقمت بترجمتها بسرعة. أرجو المساعدة في إيصالها للمتظاهرين في تونس ومصر للحفاظ على سلامتهم، ومساعدتهم على مواجهة القمع من قبل الشرطة وقوات حفظ النظام ومكافحة الشغب:

  • النظارات الوقائية (ولكن ليس جميعها): يجب أن تكون عازلة للهواء (أو يمكن إغلاق الفتحات بالشريط اللاصق) مفيدة ضدة جداً الغازات المسيلة للدموع ورذاذ الفلفل. يتوجب استخدام نوع لايتكاثف عليه .البخار من أجل الحفاظ على القدرة على الرؤية في جميع الأوقات
  • تعرّق الجسم: عرق الجسم يستوعب الغازات المسيلة للدموع وغيرها، ولذلك حاول تجنب التعرق ما استطعت وحاول الاستحمام في كل فرصة للتخلص من التعرق.
  • مطافئ الحريق: على الرغم من أنها ثقيلة، ولكن يمكن استخدامها بفعالية شديدة لحجب رؤية قوات حفظ النظام المرتدية للأقنعة والحاملة للدروع الشفافة.
  • المطارق: دون وجود الكثير من الحجارة على الطرقات، البديل الأفضل هو صنعها، والمطارق وسيلة ممتازة لذلك. (المدونة لا تشجع استخدام العنف إطلاقاً، ولكن بعض الحالات قد تستوجب الدفاع عن النفس بأي ثمن)
  • الماء: احمل ما استطعت من الماء بشكل دائم وذلك لمحاربة التجفاف وللحفاظ على طاقتك وقدرتك على المشاركة لأطول وقت ممكن.
  • بالونات مملوءة بالدهانات الزيتية: ولها عدة فوائد وهي أنها ستسبب مشاكل في الرؤية لقوات مكافحة الشغب التي تستخدم الأقنعة والدروع الشفافة، كما أنها ستعلم على أفراد الشرطة مما يسهل تتبع تحركاتهم وخططهم.
  • سدادات للأذنين: ويمكن الحصول عليها أو صنعها بشكل مرتجل بسهولة. في حال استخدمت القنابل الصوتية أو غيرها من الأسلحة الصوتية المضادة للتظاهر، إن لم تكن تملك سدادات للأذنين فليس أمامك فرصة أبداً.
  • رذاذ الطلاء Spray paint: كما ذكرت أعلاه، فهي أيضاً مفيدة حيث ستسبب مشاكل في الرؤية لقوات مكافحة الشغب التي تستخدم الأقنعة والدروع الشفافة.
  • صفائح حماية للساقين (مثل تلك المستخدمة في كرة القدم): إن كنت تواجه قوات مكافحة الشغب وكانوا يحملون الدروع فبقدورهم توجيه ركلات مؤلمة جداً إلى ساقيك من تحت دروعهم. يمكنك صنع صفائح حماية للساقين مرتجل بربط قطع من البلاستيك حول ساقيك.
  • الإسعافات الأولية: معرفتك لمبادئ الاسعافات الأولية قد تمكنك من إنقاذ حياة. تعلم اسعاف الجروح والنزيف، والحروق، وإصابات الجهاز التنفسي، والدوراني، وإصابات الجهاز المحرك (العظام والمفاصل والعضلات) وإسعاف المصاب فاقد الوعي، بالإضافة لبعض الطرق المرتجلة لحمل ونقل المصابين (انظر القسم الأخير من رابط الحمل والنقل) في حال تعذر وصول سيارات الإسعاف إليهم.

تذكر أن شرطة مكافحة الشغب يتفوقون عليك بشيئين فقط: التدريب والمعدات، ويمكنك مواجهة ذلك بصنع معدات مرتجلة من مواد عادية ومتوفرة. يمكنك مراجعة هذه المقالة لرؤية أمثلة عن العديد من تكتيكات الدروع المرتجلة.

عليكم بهم! ثورة حتى سقوط الطاغية.