Syrian-American community comes together for Freedom for Syria


By Patti (SETF staff)

democracy supporters

Yesterday May 24th, about 350 Syrian-Americans came together in DC for Freedom for Syria Day to support their brothers and sisters protesting in Syria.  The Syrian American Council (SAC) hosted a series of meetings, and protests to show solidarity with the democracy protesters.  They started at the U.S. Capital to speak to their representatives in Congress about a possible resolution condemning the violence in Syria.

After visiting the capital they went to protest at the Syrian Embassy where protesters demanded an end to the violence and to hold the regime responsible for the killing and oppression.  The Syrian Ambassador invited some of the SAC leaders inside but apparently repeated the regime line that there are no protests and that the only protesters were foreign agitators trying to overthrow the stability and security of Syria.  He also told them that the videos being released by eyewitnesses were fabricated by foreign conspirators.

Later there was a rally in front of the White House to bring their message to the American people and government to ask for their continued support of the democratic protesters and to celebrate the sanctions on the worst criminals in the regime.

Ambassador Moustafa

The meeting at the hotel Conference Room involved speeches and discussion among SAC and other Syrian American groups including the Syrian Emergency Task Force, Human Rights organizations, Arab-American and Muslim-American organizations and representatives from several different country’s diplomatic corps.  There was even an alleged representative from the Syrian Embassy who berated the assembly for criticizing President Assad and the government.

The discussion brought to the forefront many important issues that plague Syria for example the treatment of minority groups, freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and the reactions of the international community but most of all to address the inexcusable violence and oppression in Syria.

Representing the U.S State Department, Jacob Walles outlined the reaction of the U.S. government to the atrocities and the actions the U.S. has taken so far.  He described the situation saying that “by denying these people their right to assembly and free speech the Syrian government is losing its legitimacy.” and repeated the demands President Obama made in his speech last Thursday.

The Syrian Emergency Task Force discussed the legal action they are coordinating to bring some of the major players in the regime to justice.  Their chief counsel Martin McMahon highlighted the case the Syrian regime just lost to the families of two Americans for wrongful death, awarding the family $413 Million.  He was enthusiastic about the promising precedent this sets for them to proceed with their lawsuit.  He also emphasized the importance of Title XVIII, sections 951, 953, and 956 in protecting their witnesses and all Americans, from the harassment, interference, or threats of foreign agents in the United States.

It was a beautiful day for Syrian-Americans from all over the United States to come together for freedom.

Click here to read Martin McMahon’s full speech

AlJazeera Arabic report on the demonstrations shows 2 Embassy employees coming out to invite the SAC leaders into the Embassy:

  1. May 25, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    رسالة مفتوحة إلى السفير السوري في واشنطن
    يوم عيد الشهداء في سورية، الجمعة 6 أيار 2011

    السيد الدكتور عماد مصطفى، سفير الجمهورية العربية السورية في واشنطن؛
    سلاماً وبعد
    في ظل الأحداث الأليمة التي تمر بها سورية هذه الأيام، والدماء التي تراق على أراضيها من المدنيين العزل من كافة الأعمار، فأرجو أن تسمح لي أن أذكرك بأنك، وإلى جانب تمثيلك للحكومة السورية، فأنت أيضاً وقبل ذلك تمثل سورية الحضارة والتاريخ، وهي سورية التي وجدت قبل أن تكون هناك حكومات، والتي بقيت وستبقى بعد رحيل مختلف الحكومات، كما أنك تمثل ضميرك وأيضاً اسم أسرتك الذي تحمله.
    وبناء عليه فأتمنى منك أن تؤدي واجبك الوطني والأخلاقي والمهني بارسال برقية فورية إلى السيد رئيس الجمهورية تطالبه فيها بالتدخل الشخصي لوقف حمام الدم وحماية المدنيين وضمان حقهم بالتظاهر السلمي وتلبية مطالبهم بالإصلاح وأيضاً بالحرية والكرامة.
    السيد السفير؛ لقد عشتُ أيام حرب تشرين، وكنت وما أزال فخوراً بها كباقي السوريين والعرب، حتى أني تغنيت بها في أكثر من قصيدة من قصائدي الشعرية. وكسوري مغترب لأكثر من ربع قرن، فقد كنت أيضاً وما أزال فخوراً بالدور السوري الداعم للمقاومتين اللبنانية والفلسطينية، والذي ساعد على تحرير الجنوب وقطاع غزة، وقد سجلت ذلك أيضاً في أكثر من قصيدة شعرية. ثم كانت قصيدتي الملحمية (سورية تتحدث عن نفسها) والتي دعوتك وأركان السفارة لحضور أمسية إلقائها العام الماضي هنا في هيوستن. القصيدة التي تغنيت فيها بكل سورية من الشمال إلى الجنوب، ومن الشرق إلى الغرب، بالمدن والقرى، والجبال والوديان، بالتقاليد والحضارة، والتاريخ والأبطال. سورية الوطن الذي لم يبن مجده على كل هذا فقط، بل أيضاً على حرية أبنائه وكرامتهم، فمن دونهما لا يبقى لوطن ولا لشعب ما يستحق الحديث عنه.
    ومن موقعي ككاتب وشاعر مهجري، ومن رؤيتي كشخص مستقل لا ينتمي لأي حزب سياسي أو ديني أو حتى ناد إجتماعي، أجد صعوبة في فهم مايجري في بلادنا. فحين يتحول الوطن إلى شركة خاصة تتحول فيها النخبة إلى أصحاب الملايين في حين أن سواد الشعب يتأرجح حول خط الفقر، فهذا ما يسمى في كافة القواميس واللغات والأعراف بالفساد. وحين يتظاهر الشعب احتجاجاً على ذلك ومطالباً في نفس الوقت بالحرية والكرامة فيطلق عليه الرصاص الحي ويداس بالأقدام ويجابه بالدبابات، فهذا ما يسمى وبنفس المعايير السابقة بالتنكيل. وهذا ما يدفعني إلى سؤال ربما احتجت مساعدتك للإجابة عليه: هل بإمكان أي حكومة أن تحارب العدو وتدعم المقاومة وتقف في طريق المؤامرات الخارجية من دون أن يستشري الفساد في بلدها وتحت أنظارها، ومن دون أن تحتاج للتنكيل بمواطنيها؟ فإذا كان هذا غير ممكن، فعلى أي حكومة أن لا تتفاجأ إذا صحت في يوم ووجدت نفسها في ساحة مواجهة، هي في جانب منها والشعب في الجانب الآخر.
    اعذرني إن كنت لم أعر اهتماماً كافياً لأصول ولغة المراسلات الديبلوماسية في رسالتي هذه، فالصور المفزعة التي تردنا من الوطن والدماء التي نراها تنزف على أرضه وبلا حساب لم تعد تحتمل ذلك. ولا شك أنك توافقني بأن ما يحدث اليوم في وطننا وبعض الدول العربية، مؤهلٌ للإنتقال إلى دول اُخرى من العالم، وهو حدث يُعد وبكافة المقاييس نقطة انعطاف في تاريخ الانسانية. ومن حظ جيلنا أنه يقف شاهداً على هذا الحدثٌ الذي لاأراه يقل أهمية عن ثورة عبيد روما وعن الثورات الفرنسية والروسية والايرانية والتي مازالت دروسها وعبرها ماثلة حتى اليوم. ولكن هناك دائماً نخبة قليلة من الناس، والمثقفين منهم خاصة، لا تكتفي بدور الشاهد على الحدث، بل تمتلك الشجاعة الكافية لتحفر أسماءها على لائحة صانعيه، فتصبح بذلك مشعلاً للغير وقدوةً للآخرين. وها أنا وبكل تواضع أضم اسمي علناً إلى لائحة المطالبين بوقف حمام الدم هذا الذي يجري في وطننا، وأدعوك لأن تضم اسمك إليها وفي العلن أيضاً، مع كل من يؤمن بأن في سورية متسع لكل السوريين، وخاصة ممن ملوا انتظار الإصلاح وتحقيق الوعود، ويريدون أيضاً العيش بحرية وكرامة قبل كل شئ. فالمواطن الحر والكريم الذي لا يعاني من الفساد المستشري في بلده، هو مواطن سيكون أكثر فخراً وقدرة على محاربة العدو ودعم المقاومة وإفشال المؤامرات الخارجية.
    فهل توافقني على ذلك؟
    والسلام

    طريف يوسف آغا
    كاتب وشاعر سوري مغترب
    هيوستن/ تكساس
    الجمعة 6 أيار، مايس 2011
    http://sites.google.com/site/tarifspoetry

    An open letter to the Syrian Ambassador in Washington DC
    Syrian Memorial Day, Friday May 6, 2011

    Mr. Imad Moustapha, PH. D. Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Syria in Washington DC. Salam.

    Regarding the painful events which Syria is going through these days, and the blood that is being shed from its unarmed civilians of all ages, please let me remind you of the following. More important than the fact that you represent the Syrian government is that you represent the Syrian Civilization and History. You represent Syria which had existed long before any government did, which still exists today and will keep existing after the departure of all different governments. You also represent your conscience and the family name you hold as well.
    By remembering that, I wish you to fulfill your national, moral and ethical duty by sending an immediate letter to the President asking him to personally intervene to stop the blood bath, protect the unarmed civilians, grant them their rights in peaceful demonstration, and give them the reforms they demand and also freedom and dignity.
    Mr. Ambassador; I lived through the days of the October war. I was and I am still proud of it, like all the Syrians and Arabs. I even showed that in more that one of my poems. And as a Syrian who has been living abroad for more that a quarter of a century, I was and I am still proud of Syrian role in supporting the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance that helped in liberating South Lebanon and the Gaza strip. I documented that in more than one of my poems as well. Then came my epic poem ‘Syria Talks about Herself’, to which I invited you and the Embassy staff to attend the recital in Houston last year. The poem in which I glorified Syria from north to south and from east to west, its cities and villages, mountains and valleys, civilization and traditions, history and heroes. Syria did not build its glory on all that only, but also on the freedom and dignity of its sons. Since without freedom and dignity, no country and no people have anything left that deserves to be talked about
    From my position as a writer and poet abroad, and from my vision as an independent person who does not belong to any political, religious, or even social club, I find it difficult to understand what is going on in our countries. As, when the homeland turns into a private company where the elite become millionaires while the majority of the people are swinging around the poverty line, then that is what all dictionaries, languages and customs call corruption. And when the people demonstrate and protest that, and also demand freedom and dignity at the same time, but are faced by live bullets, stepped on by feet and confronted by tanks, then that is what the same sources call suppression.
    And that leads me to a question for which I may need your help to answer.
    Can any government fight the enemy, support the resistance, stop the foreign conspiracies without seeing the corruption flourishing under its eyes, and without suppressing its citizens? If that is impossible, then no government should be surprised in case it wakes up one morning to find itself in a confrontation square where it is on one side and the people are on the other.
    Excuse me as I did not pay enough attention to the protocols and to the language that the diplomatic letters should use. The scary photos which are arriving from the homeland, together with the countless amount of blood which we see flowing there, all that distracted me from doing so. I do not have a doubt you agree with me that what is going on in our homeland and some other Arabic countries may spread to other parts of the world, and that it is an event that is considered, in all standards, a turning point in the history of humanity. Our generation is quite lucky to witness this event which is not less important than The Slave Rebellion of Rome, and The French, Russian and Iranian Revolutions whose lessons and conclusions are still alive today. But there are always a few people, especially the enlightened ones, who do not believe that it is enough for them to witness that event. But also have enough courage to chisel their names on the list of its makers, so they become a guiding light and a good example for the others. And here I am, with all humbleness, adding my name openly to the list of the people who are demanding to stop the blood bath that is taking place in our homeland, and asking you to openly add yours, together with all who believe that Syria has enough space for all the Syrians, especially those who got tired waiting for the reforms and the fulfilling of the promises, but also want to live in freedom and dignity before anything else. Let us not forget that the free and dignified citizen, and who does not suffer from corruption around him, is a citizen who will be more proud and therefore more capable of fighting the enemy, supporting the resistance, and defeating the foreign conspiracies.

    Do you agree with me?

    Salam.

    Tarif Youssef-Agha
    Writer & Poet abroad
    Houston, Texas
    Friday May 6th. 2011
    http://sites.google.com/site/tarifspoetry

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