Marking one year of Syria protests
A coalition of human rights groups organised a campaign to mark the March 15 anniversary of the start of anti-government protests in Syria. The coalition includes 200 NGOs from 27 countries and campaigners from around the world.
- Called Unite For Syria, the campaign is enlisting celebrities and other activists to press the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution calling on the Syrian government to immediately end attacks on peaceful protesters.
- The organisers also want the Syrian government and "other armed actors" to guarantee unimpeded humanitarian access to all areas of the country.
- The online effort will be linked to rallies in major world cities, including Cairo and Paris. Many celebrities sent tweets in support of the campaign.
- Politicians also joined the campaign, with some tweeting their pictures with a show of support, using the #UniteForSyria hashtag on Twitter.
- People from from Indonesia to Egypt, UK to South Africa, Turkey to Brazil are expected to join in through the day.
“For a full year, the death toll in Syria has escalated to the horrifying total of more than 8,000 dead, including hundreds of children. Isn’t it time for the world to unite behind effective steps to stop this now?” Ziad Abdel Tawab, Deputy Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights, said.
- Protests following similar Arab uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt began in earnest in Syria on March 15, 2011, after youths who spray painted anti-government graffiti in Deraa were arrested and severely beaten.
- Meanwhile, huge crowds reportedly rallied in cities across the country in support of Assad "to make the world hear our voice".
- State television showed tens of thousands of people waving Syrian flags and Assad's portrait in squares in Damascus, the northern city of Aleppo, Latakia on the Mediterranean coast, Suweida to the south and Hasaka in the northeast.
- Last week, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights gave a breakdown of around 8,500 deaths: apart from 6,200 civilians, it said the toll included more than 1,800 members of Assad's security forces and over 400 opposition fighters.
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