Ongoing protest against Syrian President Assad: ‘Don’t forget our tragedy’ Yesterday, 20:21 in Abroad In Syrian cities under government control, demonstrations against the regime take place almost every day, despite the fear that still prevails.

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A demonstration against the Assad regime in Sweida
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  • Daisy Mohr

    Middle East correspondent

  • Daisy Mohr

    Middle East correspondent

“Long live Syria, down with Bashar al Assad”, it sounds again today on various squares in Syrian government territory. There have been demonstrations every day for almost two weeks.

“The enthusiasm is great,” says Lubna Albassit (28) by telephone from the central square in Sweida in southern Syria. “Certainly on Fridays, then everyone tries to come. On other days it is more difficult for people. They want to demonstrate, but cannot afford the petrol for their transport. People earn less than 20 euros per month. So our focus is on Fridays .”

They spent the whole morning making new banners. “International community, don’t forget our tragedy” is written on one of them. Albassit is unstoppable, she has been involved from day one. “We are hopeful that the will of the people will remain intact this time. And yes, of course there is fear. We have seen before what can happen to demonstrators in Syria.”

The immediate reason for the protests is a significant increase in fuel prices after the government decided to review fuel subsidies. But it is about much more: dignity and honor are linked to basic needs such as food, education and health care. Protesters are calling for the release of political prisoners and justice. They are dissatisfied with the widespread corruption and the meddling of Russia and Iran in their country.

Important signal

Lobanna Ghozlan (27) is in constant contact with demonstrators from Beirut. She herself fled from Sweida to neighboring Lebanon more than a year ago. Like Ghozlan and Albassit, most of Sweida’s inhabitants belong to a religious minority, the Druze, who have always had good ties with the Assad government.

“It is the first time that the religious leaders are now participating in demonstrations,” says Ghozlan. “That is really a turnaround. Their support is an important signal.” She shows videos on social media in which Druze leaders go on the shoulders of demonstrators during a demonstration.

Correspondent Daisy Mohr visited Ghozlan in Beirut:

‘We want justice for the victims, for the chemical attacks’

“It is striking how many women participate in these protests. You see that the demonstrations are regularly led by women who grew up during the war,” says historian Makram Rabah of the American University in Beirut. “They are lively protests from young, courageous people.”

It is impossible to verify how large the protests are. But they are also spreading to other parts of the country, inspired by the ongoing protest in Sweida. “Look, for example, at the opposition on the Syrian coast, the Alawite area,” says Rabah. “The regime has intervened aggressively there. That has not yet happened in Sweida.”

Although the images of the protests are going around the world, for now the regime seems to be looking the other way in Sweida. The great dissatisfaction does not seem to be a direct threat to President Assad, who has regained control in much of Syria.

Deserted

But everyone knows that you hardly ever get away with impunity by demonstrating in Syrian government territory. “He is waiting for the right moment and will surely find a way. I certainly don’t expect everything in Syria to suddenly change, but this is a step in the right direction and that is already a lot,” says Rabah.

The situation in Syria, both in government and opposition areas, leaves much to be desired. After twelve years of war, the country is in ruins and international sanctions, increasing corruption and inflation are causing the economy to deteriorate further and further. According to the United Nations, at least 90 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

So there is no hope and perspective for the future. People feel forgotten and abandoned by the international community. “My dream is very simple,” says Albassit from Sweida. “I want to stay in Syria forever with my family, but I can only do that without Assad. As long as he is here, everyone will want to leave. We don’t want to leave Syria. Let Assad leave and then everyone will come back to our beautiful country again. to build.”

  • Protests in Syrian cities against Assad’s regime have been going on for days
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  • Abroad

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