Syria

This report is part of a WLUML three-part series on women’s rights in the context of the ‘Arab uprisings’. Last week: Egypt: Fighting for Women’s Rights in the Aftermath of the Revolution.

The Syrian government’s response to the uprisings across the country has been violent; over one thousand people have been killed so far, more than a hundred of them in the southwestern city of Deraa, and ten thousand people are said to have been detained by security forces. Syrian women, in common with their counterparts in Egypt and Tunisia, have played a crucial role in the protests against the autocratic political regime, which has hitherto successfully used the threat of the well-organised mukhabarat (secret services) to silence dissent. Their outspoken demands for the release of male family members, and the voices of those women who have themselves been targeted by government forces, has focused the attention of women’s groups and human rights organizations both inside and outside Syria on their situation.

Following the revelation that "Amina" was a hoax two LGBT Syrian Activists speak out. Sami Hamwi, Gay Middle East Syria: Blogging in Syria has been forbidden by law for more than eight years. As internet started to flourish, many Syrians started to use internet spaces and blogs to write personal thoughts, poetry, short stories… etc. unaware of that fact, but they remained safe as the authorities only monitored political and human rights blogs. LGBT bloggers can manage to keep safe only if their blogs were meant for gossip and entertainment, but they might have to face different kind of difficulties if they reported news or engaged into LGBT rights activism. As soon as any blog starts to attract attention, the agony with authorities’ interference starts.

Hundreds of Syrian women have marched along the country's main coastal highway to demand the release men seized from their hometown, human rights activists said. Security forces, including secret police, stormed the town of Baida, going into houses and arresting hundreds of men after locals joined anti-government protests, according to the activists. Video showed a large crowd, most of them women, marching along the road leading to Turkey as they chanted: "We want the men of Baida."

 ليس جديدا على الحكومة السورية أن تتاجر بالنساء تجارة بعض رجال الدين ممن باعوا ضمائرهم وقيمهم وإنسانيتهم ليشرعوا لذكوريتهم أن تستعبد النساء وتجعلهن مادة لغرائزها وتصوراتها المريضة. فهي قد فعلت ذلك مرارا وتكرارا. لكن المخيف اليوم أن هذه الحكومة بدأت تقدم "ثمن" المواقف التي أعلنها بعض أولئك، ويبدو أن النساء سيكن هن ضحية هذه المساومات، مثلما حدث في مرات سابقة، وفي أماكن أخرى!

It is not a new thing that the Syrian government traffics women like some religious figures who have sold their consciousness, values and humanity to enable their masculinity to enslave women. The government seems ready to do this again again. What is really scary this time round is that the government started to pay “the cost” of the attitudes taken by few of those religious figures, and it seems that women would be again the victims of this compromise in many ways.

Over the past 12 days, peaceful protests in Syria have been faced with violence. The blood of too many people was spilled and others were arrested and beaten by security forces. As long as this violence goes on, the Syrian government’s legitimacy will diminish by the day both in the eyes of the Syrian people as in the eyes of the international community.

في ظل الأحداث التي تشهدها سورية في الأسابيع الأخيرة، بدأ خطر العنف يتجلى في أبشع صوره، سواء الممارس منه عمليا من قبل البعض، أو الذي يجري التهديد به من قبل البعض الآخر. وبعيدا عن الأهداف التي يسعى إليها الأشخاص والأطراف المختلفة، يهم "مرصد نساء سورية"، انسجاما مع شعاره: "من أجل مجتمع خال من العنف والتمييز"، أن يدين العنف الممارس (من قبل بعض أجهزة الدولة وبعض المحتجين)، والمهدد بممارسته (من قبل بعض من ادعى أنه يمثل "قبيلة" ما كما لو أنه يعيش زمن القبائل!) بصفته سلوكا همجيا يتناقض كليا مع منطق المواطنة، ومنطق الدولة الحديثة، ومنطق الحرية والديمقراطية، وأي منطق إنساني آخر. وهو سلوك لا يؤدي إلا إلى المزيد من العنف والدمار على كافة الصعد. ولن يكون له إلا آثارا مدمرة على الجميع، وخطوة كبيرة إلى الوراء!

During the events of the past few weeks, violence has manifested itself in its ugliest forms, as practiced by some and threatened by others. Putting aside the aims of the various factions involved, the SWO, in keeping with its commitment to its motto “For a Society Free of Violence and Discrimination,” condemns the use of violence by state forces and protestors alike, as well as the threats of violence by some who claim to be representing a “tribe” (as if we are living in a tribal era!). The SWO considers this to be barbaric behavior that utterly contradicts with the notions of citizenship, modern statehood,  freedom, democracy, and all other humanist practices. Such behavior only begets more violence, leading to destructive consequences for the entire society. Its continuation would be a big step backwards for Syria.

أفادت مصادر عديدة إلى استمرار حملة الاعتقالات التي استأنفتها أجهزة الأمن والمخابرات السورية الأسبوع المنصرم على خلفية مظاهرات الحرية. فقد أفاد عدة شهود عيان وأقارب في مضايا بريف دمشق إلى اعتقال المواطنين التالية أسمائهم على يد مخابرات أمن الدولة يوم الجمعة 18/3/2011: إبراهيم محمود (25 سنة) وقد تعرض للضرب العنيف قبل اعتقاله، خالد سليمان (19 سنة)، حسان محمود (22 سنة)، محمود الحاج، علي عساف (26 سنة)، محمد محرز (24 سنة)، عبد الرحمن محرز (21 سنة)، أحمد ناصيف (36 سنة)، إياد ناصيف (23 سنة) وقد أصيب بجروح بالغة، معاذ ناصيف (19 سنة)، زكريا ناصيف (23 سنة)، واثنان من أسرة الحبش. وقد قامت مخابرات أمن الدولة بمداهمة العديد من المنازل في مضايا وتفتيشها.

A presidential decree issued at the beginning of 2011 made long-awaited changes to the country's criminal law, which dates to 1949 and contains numerous provisions considered prejudicial towards women. But while the amendments are a step forward, local activists say they do not go far enough. 

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