OC Syrians support the revolution as events unfold


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Thirty years ago yesterday, the Syrian regime led by the late Hafez al-Assad, launched a bloody assault and leveled entire neighborhoods in the city of Hama in response to an uprising, slaughtering aproximately 40,000 inhabitants. The 1982 massacre was carried out by Assad’s younger brother Rifaat and lasted 27 days.

Since March 15, 2011, Bashar al-Assad, who replaced his father after his death in 2000, has proven to be following his father’s footsteps in Hama and beyond, cracking down on protesters  and killing more than 7000 so far. Almost a year into the uprising, and despite the death toll, the tens of thousands arrested, and tens of thousands missing, the regime continues to fail to contain or crush the rebellion. Protesters remain determined to overthrow the regime. The numbers of protesters and army defectors are on the rise as they face Assad’s brutal security forces and notorious militias known as “shabiha”.

As the UN Security Council holds sessions to adopt a resolution on Syria, Russia remains an obstacle to a  tangible UN action to stop the regime’s violence. Its close ties to the regime remains a priority as the country hosts Russia’s only naval base in the region in the city of Tartus. Yesterday Russia threatened to veto a draft resolution that will be put to a vote today, but a watered-down version that would refrain from demanding Assad to step down would defeat the purpose.

As events unfold in Syria, Syrian-Americans in Orange County have been effectively organizing activities in support of the revolution. Rallies, fundraisers, town hall meetings, etc., are held by several groups, mainly the Syrian American Council.

Last Saturday, a rally was held in Anaheim’s Little Arabia district in solidarity with the Syrian revolutionaries. Rallies are organized on an almost weekly basis by Syrians-American activists, many of them directly affected by the crackdown as their close relatives and family members are currently in Syria including some who were reportedly killed.

Video – Freedom for Syria rally in Anaheim – Jan. 28, 2012

On Sunday, January 29, more than 500 people attended a fundraiser hosted by the Syrian American Council to benefit the victims of Assad’s crackdown on protesters. The sold-out event featured pianist/composer Malek Jandali, an artist whose elderly parents were attacked in Homs by Assad’s “shabiha” militia’s because of a song he performed at a rally in Washington, DC.

The gathering of 500 Syrian-Americans was unprecedented. It is safe to say that this revolution has unified and organized the community. Although there were divisions with the start of the revolution, a vast number of Syrians have been actively engaged in supporting it. Syrians have not only feared this brutal regime inside Syria but also in exile where the regime had planted spies and informants everywhere to intimidate dissenters from engaging in any activities against the regime, including here in Orange County.

The Assad regime cannot tolerate any level of dissent whether it’s in Hama, Homs, or Anaheim, but it will get what it deserves.  Sooner or later  it will fall despite a UN resolution or lack thereof.


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About Rashad Al-Dabbagh

Arab American community activist based in Anaheim's Little Arabia. Founder/Director of the Arab American Civic Council. Follow him on Twitter at @Happy_Arab.