Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dear friends, 

This morning, 4 western journalists are home safe with their families, the echoes of the horror and heroism of Baba Amr still ringing in their ears. Over 50 Syrian activists, supported by Avaaz, volunteered to rescue them and scores of wounded civilians from the Syrian army’s killzone. Many of those incredible activists have not survived the week.

Abu Hanin is one of the heroes. He’s 26, a poet, and when his community needed him, he took the lead in organizing the citizen journalists that Avaaz has supported to help the voices of Syrians reach the world. The last contact with Abu Hanin was on Thursday, as regime troops closed in on his location. He read his last will and testament to the Avaaz team in Beirut, and told us where he had buried the bodies of the two western journalists killed in the shelling. Since then, his neighborhood of Baba Amr has been a black hole, and we still don’t know his fate.

It’s easy to despair when seeing Syria today, but to honour the dead, we must carry forward the hope they died with. As Baba Amr went dark and fears of massacre spread, Syrians took to the streets — yet again — across the country, in a peaceful protest that showed staggering bravery.

Their bravery is our lesson, the gift of the Syrian people to the rest of us. Because in their spirit, in their courage to face the worst darkness our world has to offer, a new world is being born.

And in that new world, the Syrian people are not alone. Millions of us from every nation have stood with them time and time again, right from the beginning of their struggle. Nearly 75,000 of us have donated almost $3 million to fund people-powered movements and deliver high-tech communications equipment to help them tell their story, and enable the Avaaz team to help smuggle in over $2 million worth of medical supplies. We’ve taken millions of online actions to push for action from the Security Council and the Arab League and for sanctions from many countries, and delivered those online campaigns in dozens of stunts, media campaigns and high-level advocacy meetings with top world leaders. Together we’ve helped win many of these battles, including for unprecedented action by the Arab League, and oil sanctions from Europe.

Our team in Beirut has also provided a valuable communications hub for brave and skilled activists to coordinate complex smuggling operations and the rescue of the wounded and the journalists. Avaaz does not direct these activities, but we facilitate, support and advise. We have also established safe houses for activists, and supported the outreach and diplomatic engagement of the Syrian National Council — the opposition movement’s fledgling political representative body. Much of the world’s major media have covered Avaaz’s work to help the Syrian people, including features on BBCCNNEl PaisTIMEThe GuardianDer SpiegelAFP and many more, citing our “central role” in the Syrian peaceful protest movement.

Today, a dozen more nightmares like that visited on the city of Homs are unfolding across Syria. The situation will get worse before it gets better. It will be bloody, and complicated, and as some protesters take up arms to defend themselves, the line between right and wrong will blur. But President Assad’s brutal regime will fall, and there will be peace, and elections, and accountability. The Syrian people simply will not stop until that happens — and it may happen sooner than we all think.

Every expert told us at the beginning that an uprising in Syria was unthinkable. But we sent in satellite communications equipment anyway. Because our community knows something that the experts and cynics don’t — that people power and a new spirit of citizenship are sweeping our world today, and they are fearless, and unstoppable, and will bring hope to the darkest places. Marie Colvin, an American journalist covering the violence in Homs, told Avaaz before she died, "I’m not leaving these people." And neither will we.

With hope, and admiration for the Syrian people and courageous citizens everywhere,

Ricken, Wissam, Stephanie, Alice, David, Antonia, Will, Sam, Emma, Wen-Hua, Veronique and the whole Avaaz team

P.S. If you want to do more, click here to help keep our lifeline of hope into Syria open: 

Powered by millions of online actions and donations from 75,000 of us, our community is playing a central role in supporting the Syrian people as they persist in peaceful protest against all odds. Together, we’re empowering citizen journalism, smuggling in medical supplies and western journalists, and much more.We’re making a difference, but the staggering bravery of the Syrian people is their gift to the rest of us. Read this email for the full story, or look at this recent media coverage of Avaaz’s work on Syria: BBCCNNEl Pais,TIMEThe GuardianDer Spiegel,AFP.


Free Syria


Free Syria


British ambassador – Syrian people see ‘no future’ under President Assad

Simon Collis, the recently recalled British ambassador to Syria, says there are “cracks in the dam” as the mood of the wider Syrian population begins to turn against President Bashar al Assad’s regime.

Speaking on television for the first time since he was recalled from Damascus last week, Simon Collis said: “The regime has been using violence for a year now, it has not been able to solve the crisis through repression. It won’t be able to do so.”

“They are launched down a cul-de-sac, they haven’t reached the end yet but they can’t turn back.”

Discussing what he saw as the mood of the Syrian people, Mr Collis continued: “There has been a hollowing out of support for the regime and it has become quite fragile – it is a bit like cracks in a dam.

“My sense is that he [Assad] does still have the uncoerced support of perhaps 20 per cent of the population, perhaps a little bit more.

“I think most of the rest of the population, if they are not in outright opposition to this regime and the bloodshed it has been responsible for over the last year, at the very least they do not see any future for themselves or for the country as long as the regime remains.”

The Telegraph


Report: 13 French Soldiers Captured in Syria

Intervention has started in Syria and there won’t be any end in sight now. 

An as-yet-unconfirmed report has emerged today claiming that 13 French soldiers have been captured in the Syrian city of Homs. If confirmed this would be the first conclusive proof of direct Western intervention in Syria’s civil war.

The report comes from the Lebanese newspaper the Daily Star. It says there are discussions between the Syrian and French governments already regarding what to do with the captured “officers.”

The French Foreign Ministry was quick to deny the reports, saying there were no ground troops in Syria to begin with. The French Defense Ministry stopped well short of denial, however, saying it would “neither confirm nor deny” the claim.

Speculation is that the troops could have been involved in the rescue of Western journalists from Homs, though one of the journalists adamantly denied having seen any French troops during their time in the city, saying “we owe our escape” to the rebel army.

Saturday, March 3, 2012



“As I’m talking to you now, they’re dying.” Injured Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy gives Sky News an interview from his hospital bed. This is a really important interview. His descriptions of what’s happening in Homs are painful and terrible. He spoke of the scheduled regularity of the shelling, beginning with horrible predictability at 6:00 every morning.

I’ve worked in many war zones. I’ve never seen, or been, in shelling like this. It is a systematic … I’m an ex-artillery gunner so I can kind of follow the patterns… they’re systematically moving through neighborhoods with munitions that are used for battlefields. This is used in a couple of square kilometers. 

He described the state of fear in Homs, calling it “beyond shell shock,” and the actions of Assad’s forces “absolutely indiscriminate,” with the intensity of the bombardments increasing daily. Conroy’s detailing of the inhumane conditions and the position of the Syrian citizens and the Free Syrian Army is important, because we don’t have as many journalists who have been able to tell us what it was like to be there as we have had elsewhere. He tells us that “The time for talking is actually over. Now, the massacre and the killing is at full tilt.” 

I actually want to quote his entire interview about the people who are living without hope, food, or power and his conviction that we will look back on this massacre with incredible shame if we stand by and do nothing. In lieu of that, you must must must watch every bit of this interview.

What is wrong with people? Did we learn @#$%ing nothing from Rwanda etc? Is the international community just gonna stand by and let another massacre happen again?!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012



“They call it the widows’ basement. Crammed amid makeshift beds and scattered belongings are frightened women and children trapped in the horror of Homs, the Syrian city shaken by two weeks of relentless bombardment. Among the 300 huddling in this wood factory cellar in the besieged district of Baba Amr is 20-year-old Noor, who lost her husband and her home to the shells and rockets. ‘Our house was hit by a rocket so 17 of us were staying in one room,’ she recalls as Mimi, her three-year-old daughter, and Mohamed, her five-year-old son, cling to her abaya. ‘We had had nothing but sugar and water for two days and my husband went to try to find food.’ It was the last time she saw Maziad, 30, who had worked in a mobile phone repair shop. ‘He was torn to pieces by a mortar shell.’ For Noor, it was a double tragedy. Adnan, her 27-year-old brother, was killed at Maziad’s side.

Everyone in the cellar has a similar story of hardship or death. The refuge was chosen because it is one of the few basements in Baba Amr. Foam mattresses are piled against the walls and the children have not seen the light of day since the siege began on February 4. Most families fled their homes with only the clothes on their backs.

The city is running perilously short of supplies and the only food here is rice, tea and some tins of tuna delivered by a local sheikh who looted them from a bombed-out supermarket.”

“We Live in Fear of Massacre” | Marie Colvin’s final report from Syria, published today out of the Sunday Times’ paywall

Babaamr is facing a genocide right now. I will never forgive you for your silence. You all have just give us your words but we need actions. However our hearts will always be with those who risk their life for our freedom. I know what we need! We need campaigns everywhere inside Syria and outside Syria, and now we need all people in front of all embassies all over the world. In a few hours there will be NO place called BabaAmr and I expect this will be my last message and no one will forgive you who talked but didn’t act. One of Syrian citizen journalist Rami Al-Sayed’s last messages. The 27-year-old Al-Sayed, who bravely documented what was going on in the wartorn city of Homs, was actively targeted by the regime’s shelling according to activists. He ran a live feed of the bombardment of his city, out of the neighborhood of Bab Amro, and according to activists: “Five days ago, the regime’s army became aware of his live broadcast and his location, and targeted him with artillery shells.” They finally succeeded in silencing him today. He leaves behind a one-and-a-half year old daughter named Maryam. (via thepoliticalnotebook)
I think the reports of my survival may be exaggerated. I’m in Babo Amr. Sickening, trying to understand how the world can stand by and I should be hardened by now. Watched a baby die today. Shrapnel, doctors could do nothing. His little tummy just heaved and heaved until it stopped. Feeling helpless. As well as cold! Will keep trying to get out the information. Slain reporter Marie Colvin’s last dispatch, posted to a Facebook group for conflict journalists and rights reporters. She was killed this morning in a mortar attack. (via newsweek)
Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A member of the Free Syrian Army shoots at the Syrian army in Al Qsair. Jan. 24, 2012Read More Here


A member of the Free Syrian Army shoots at the Syrian army in Al Qsair. Jan. 24, 2012
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An antiregime demonstration in Al Qsair. Jan. 27, 2012Read More Here


An antiregime demonstration in Al Qsair. Jan. 27, 2012

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