Dispatch from Aleppo: Victims of Syria’s Brutal Crackdown

Demonstrator calls for freedom in Syria

Syrian protester in Aleppo, Syria D. Leal Olivas/AFP/GettyImages

By Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s senior adviser on crisis response

Editor’s Note: Rovera has reported from numerous conflict zones on human rights violations since 1991, and has traveled inside Syria several times over the past two months to document human rights abuses. An op-ed by Rovera, Why Syria Feels Abandoned, was published May 30, 2012 in the Washington Post.

Every protest I observed during three days in Aleppo ended the same way: with the army, security forces and shabiha – the infamous militias who do some of the government’s dirty work – opening fire on non-violent demonstrators who posed no threats to them (or to anybody else).

On Friday May 25, at least seven people were killed, at least two of them were children, and dozens more were injured at demonstrations and funerals in the city.

Among those killed was Amir Barakat, a 13-year old schoolboy, who was fatally shot in the abdomen. Eyewitnesses told me that he was walking near his home as demonstrators were running away from the security forces who were shooting towards them. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Promises Of Freedom Ring Hollow As Syrian Crackdown Continues

By Mahsa Maleki, Syria Country Specialist for Amnesty USA

Tires burn during anti-government protests on the streets of Daraa. © Anwar Amro/AFP/Getty Images

The Syrian government has once again responded to peaceful protests with bullets and armor.  Amnesty International insists that the government halt its attacks and allow its citizens to fulfill their rights under international law to peaceful demonstrations.

The protests in Syria to demand political reform started on March 15, 2011, and scores of people have since been injured or killed.  President Bashar Assad promised that he would reform the political system, but these promises remain hollow as the brutal crackdown on protesters and political critics continues.

The Syrian government has long imposed severe penalties on those demanding for political reform.  Government critics are often detained for prolonged periods, or sentenced to prison terms after unfair trials.  Torture and other ill-treatment is common, often committed with impunity.

The protests in Syria began in the town of Dera’a, where residents had asked, among other political demands, for the release of more than 30 children, many only 10 years old, detained for several weeks after being accused of writing “the people want the fall of the regime” on a wall.