Syrian Americans along with Syrian Emergency task Force and Amnesty International are rallying now in front of the White House demanding political pressure on the Assad regime to stop the massacres of the peaceful protestors in Syria
Gunfire could be heard in the background as one of the eyewitnesses spoke to CNN over the telephone.
One eyewitness said that men venturing outside were being shot and women and children who left their homes were being escorted back. Another witness said anyone on the street was being shot.
Bloated bodies remained uncollected in the streets, their relatives afraid to retrieve them, witnesses said, and they complained about a lack of water, power, electricity and food.
CNN has not been granted access into Syria and is unable to independently verify witness accounts.
But CNN has spoken with witnesses, some of whom have also reported what they see via social networking sites and posted homemade videos. Reports also have been compiled by human rights organizations.
The clampdown in Daraa comes a day after 19 people, including four soldiers, were reported killed and more than 50 others wounded in the city, where the country-wide demonstrations started last month.
Government forces opened fire on protesters from neighboring villages who tried to enter the city near the Jordanian-Syrian border, according to witnesses who spoke with CNN.
The harsh crackdown has emboldened demonstrators and has drawn widespread criticism across the world from countries, international entities like the United Nations, and human rights groups.
The U.S. government on Friday announced new sanctions against top members and elements of the regime.
A city near the Jordanian border, Daraa is where the anti-government protests began and took hold last month. Now it is a test for police and soldiers attempting to quell protests and a government trying to cope with angry unrest.
“Hereby, we announce that we will be part of this national project led by the spectacular vision and the great spirit of the Syrian youth and we call upon all Syrians of all backgrounds to join in establishing a national project in which all Syrians achieve what they have dreamt of — liberty, freedom and progress,” the Islamic political group said in a statement.
Human Rights Watch said army troops and other security forces have killed more than 300 protesters since March 16. Other sources have cited higher numbers, and the government reports security personnel have also been killed.
Many of the deaths have occurred in and around Daraa, where heavy firing could be heard Thursday and smoke was seen rising from homes, mosques and schools.
Hundreds of snipers were stationed on the roofs of several buildings and security forces were shelling the city with mortars and anti-aircraft weapons, a witness said.
One witness said dozens of tanks rumbled across a bridge and fired shells, as people hurled rocks at the tanks and tried to stop them from moving into the old part of the city. Another witness said security forces making mass arrests detained a large number of young men.
A resident said people were too scared to take the wounded to hospitals since the streets were filled with security forces.
Residents have gone without electricity, milk and medicine for four days, said the witness, who asked not to be named for security reasons.
CNN was not able to independently confirm the accounts.
The unrest began in Daraa in March after teens were arrested for scribbling anti-government graffiti. People protested the arrests, security forces greeted the demonstrators harshly, and that emboldened more rallies.
Protests spread to other parts of Syria, where the same dynamic played out, despite promises and gestures of reform by the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
There’s been an outcry in many international quarters due to the use of force against the peaceful gatherings. Human Rights Watch Wednesday urged Arab countries to “join international efforts to establish an independent international inquiry” into the issue.
“In recent days President Bashar al-Assad’s government cut off access and communications with several cities, sending in tanks and troops in an effort to crush widespread public dissent,” the group said.
The U.N. Security Council debated Syria on Wednesday but failed to agree on a response to the crisis.
The situation has even made its way into the planning for Friday’s royal wedding in Britain of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
The entire Syrian diplomatic corps was invited to the event as a matter of protocol, but the British Foreign Office said Thursday that Syria’s ambassador to the United Kingdom is now not welcome “in the light of this week’s attacks against civilians by the Syrian security forces, which we have condemned.”
CNN’s Raja Razek and Nada Husseini contributed to this report
For Immediate Release
BLOCKING PROPERTY OF CERTAIN PERSONS WITH RESPECT TO HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN SYRIA
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,
I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, hereby expand the scope of the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13338 of May 11, 2004, and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13399 of April 25, 2006, and in Executive Order 13460 of February 13, 2008, finding that the Government of Syria’s human rights abuses, including those related to the repression of the people of Syria, manifested most recently by the use of violence and torture against, and arbitrary arrests and detentions of, peaceful protestors by police, security forces, and other entities that have engaged in human rights abuses, constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, and I hereby order:
Section 1. All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person, including any overseas branch, of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:
(a) the persons listed in the Annex to this order; and
(b) any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:
(i) to be responsible for or complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, or to have participated in, the commission of human rights abuses in Syria, including those related to repression;
(ii) to be a senior official of an entity whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order;
April 29, 20112
(iii) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, the activities described in subsection (b)(i) of this section or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to Executive Order 13338, Executive Order 13460, or this order; or
(iv) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to Executive Order 13460 or this order.
Sec. 2. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to section 1 of this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13338 and expanded in this order, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.
Sec. 3. The prohibitions in section 1 of this order include but are not limited to:
(a) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and
(b) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
Sec. 4. The prohibitions in section 1 of this order apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the effective date of this order.
Sec. 5. (a) Any transaction by a United States person or within the United States that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
Sec. 6. For the purposes of this order:
(a) the term “person” means an individual or entity;
(b) the term “entity” means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization;
(c) the term “United States person” means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity
organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States; and
(d) the term “Government of Syria” means the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, its agencies, instrumentalities, and controlled entities.
Sec. 7. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render those measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13338 and expanded in this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.
Sec. 8. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order.
Sec. 9. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to determine that circumstances no longer warrant the blocking of the property and interests in property of a person listed in the Annex to this order, and to take necessary action to give effect to that determination.
Sec. 10. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Sec. 11. This order is effective at 1:00 p.m. eastern daylight time on April 29, 2011.
THE WHITE HOUSE, April 29, 2011.
1. Mahir AL-ASAD [Brigade Commander in the Syrian Army’s Fourth Armored Division, born 1968]
2. Ali MAMLUK [director of the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, born 1947]
3. Atif NAJIB [former head of the Syrian Political Security Directorate for Dar’a Province]
1. Syrian General Intelligence Directorate
2. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE TEXT OF A TO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
April 29, 2011
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
Pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), I hereby report that I have issued an Executive Order (the “order”) that expands the scope of the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13338 of May 11, 2004, and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13399 of April 25, 2006, and Executive Order 13460 of February 13, 2008.
In Executive Order 13338, the President found that the actions of the Government of Syria constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States and declared a national emergency to deal with that threat. To address that threat and to implement the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-175), the President in Executive Order 13338 blocked the property of certain persons and imposed additional prohibitions on certain transactions with respect to Syria.
I have determined that the Government of Syria’s human rights abuses, including those related to the repression of the people in Syria, manifested most recently by the use of violence and torture against, and arbitrary arrests and detentions of, peaceful protestors by police, security forces, and other entities that have engaged in human rights abuses, constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, and warrant the imposition of additional sanctions.
The order blocks the property and interests in property of persons listed in the Annex to the order. The order also provides criteria for designations of persons determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:
- to be responsible for or complicitin,or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, or to have participated in, the commission of human rights abuses in Syria, including those related to repression;
-to be a senior official of entity whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the order;
TEXT OF A TO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
April 29, 2011
to have materially assisted,sponsored,orprovided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, human rights abuses in Syria, or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to Executive Order 13338, Executive Order 13460, or the order; or
tobeownedorcontrolledby,ortohaveactedorpurported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to Executive Order 13460 or the order.
I have delegated to the Secretary of the Treasury the authority, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA, as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of the order. I have also delegated to the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the authority to determine that circumstances no longer warrant the blocking of the property and interests in property of a person listed in the Annex to the order, and to take necessary action to give effect to that determination.
The order was effective at 1:00 p.m. eastern daylight time on April 29, 2011. All executive agencies of the United States Government are directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of the order.
I am enclosing a copy of the Executive Order I have issued. Sincerely,
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 29, 2011
Statement by the Press Secretary on Syrian Human Rights Abuses
Today, the President signed an Executive Order imposing sanctions against senior Syrian officials and other Syrian and Iranian government entities responsible for human rights abuses, including the use of violence against civilians and the commission of other abuses. These sanctions are in addition to those the United States maintains pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and Executive Orders 13338, 13399 and 13460, as a part of the national emergency with respect to Syria. Today the President continued that national emergency declaration for another year. Further, based on the current repression in Syria and charges of human rights abuses, the Commerce Department has also revoked certain commercial export licenses relating to VIP aircraft used to transport senior officials of the Syrian government.
In addition to actions that we are taking, the United States believes that Syria’s deplorable actions toward its people warrant a strong international response. We welcome the decision today by the UN Human Rights Council to condemn the Government of Syria for its violent crackdown against peaceful demonstrators. The Syrian people’s call for freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly, and the ability to freely choose their leaders must be heard.
We strongly support the resolution passed today in Geneva, including the mandate for an urgent mission by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law, with the goal of ensuring full accountability for the perpetrators of the violence.
We call on President Assad to change course now, and heed the calls of his own people.
In the light of the new situation taking place in Syria against the Syrian people the massacre taking against the peaceful protestors. The American Syrians condemn such atrocities against the peaceful protestors. We ask of the international community to stand with the democracy and freedom and self-determination of the Syrian People and demand the immediate halt of the gruesome bloodshed against the Syrian people. The Syrian American community has started demonstrations spurring up from Coast to Coast to show their support if the Syrian People, and vigils to honour the martyrs that have lost their lives. Please join our people in New York in front of the United Nations, in Michigan, Texas, or wherever demonstrations are taking place. Find the closest demonstration and part take in the efforts to support the Syrian people in their aspirations of pursuing a democratic government.
Vigil in Royal Oaks Michigan
Washington DC in front of the Syrian Embassy
Washington DC rally on April 30, 2011 Please join us
إضراب عام لمدة 3 أيام Please join us
Historically, Washington’s rhetoric has been to support democracy, yet turn a blind eye to the dictators and monarchs in the Middle East and South Asia. As the “Arab Spring” continues to blossom despite brutal crackdowns by decades-old regimes, the United States must also turn a new page to support the people in the region in their quest for justice, equality, and democracy in order to uphold our national and our long-term national interests.
The opportunity exists for us to be on the right side of history, which means we must side with the majority. The majority in this case is made up of the people, and not the ruling elites. For way too long, many policy makers have stood with the ruling elite, only leading to further corruption and erosion of trust between the people of the region and our country. Based on the changing circumstances on the ground, our long term values and interests must be aligned with the aspirations of the people of the Middle East crying out for freedom.
Whether it is Syria, Bahrain, Libya or Yemen, it is a well-known fact that these countries and the region as a whole are rich in resources both natural and human. In the past, the revenue from these resources have not been directed to the people, but rather to their corrupt dictators, large international companies and foreign banks.
Over the past decade, we have based our relationship with the region on security and have made unholy alliances with security services that have suppressed and even killed legitimate voices of democracy. Our relationship with the region can no longer be based on fear and directed by a small minority of Washington insiders who want to use fear to preserve the status quo. Instead, we must invest in the establishment of a vibrant civil society in many of these countries.
The United States, Europe, Israel, and Arab countries must stop for a moment and reassess and revive their approach to one another and the revolutions. The status quo both in how we deal with the region and how the players within deal with each other is no longer sustainable. It is high time to support the will of the people and help them win back their countries, which they have been robbed of for far too long.
[CONTACT: Haris Tarin, DC Office Director, (202) 547-7701,firstname.lastname@example.org]
Created in 1988, the Muslim Public Affairs Council is a public policy institution that focuses on fostering a vibrant Muslim American community that is a vital and contributing element of America’s pluralism. MPAC has built a reputation as a consistent and reliable resource for government and media, and is trusted by Muslim Americans as an authentic, experienced voice. The Mission of MPAC encompasses promoting a Muslim American identity, building constructive relationships between Muslim Americans and their representatives, and training a future generation of men and women to share our vision.
Syrian Americans rally in front of the United Nations to show their support to the Syrian people suffering form the endless bloodshed that the Assad regime is unleashing upon them.