Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

29 May 2012

Exiled Syrian activist calls for international pressure on Assad

Exiled Syrian activist calls for international pressure on Assad
Omar Assil managed to avoid arrest, but his brother was tortured by Syrian authorities

Omar Assil managed to avoid arrest, but his brother was tortured by Syrian authorities

© Amnesty International


If nobody helps the Syrian protesters, it may end in civil war. But this is part of SNVM’s campaign: we are looking for change, not revenge.
Source: 
Omar Assil, a leading member of the Syrian Non Violence Movement (SNVM)
Date: 
Tue, 29/05/2012

Ongoing deadly clashes in Syria have become so common that news of yet another blast or attack on protesters by security forces often fails to make it to the front pages of international media.

But for Omar Assil, a leading member of the Syrian Non Violence Movement (SNVM) currently studying in the UK. each report of violence means one of his friends or loved ones could be at risk.

“Every week I get news of the arrest of another of my friends. Last month the body of one of them was returned to his family in Homs,” he told Amnesty International.

“Every week there is another bombing in Damascus and my parents are living in a constant state of stress and fear. It’s hard to concentrate on my studies. I am always distracted with the news.”

Before arriving in the UK in September last year, he took part in several demonstrations in Damascus. He always managed to avoid arrest, but witnessed first-hand the brutal treatment protesters were subjected to at the hands of police.

When the Free Syrian Army was formed by defectors from the Syrian military last summer in response to the crackdown on civilians, the idea that the opposition should be armed began to grow among many Syrians, says Assil.

“At that time, we felt it was important to spread awareness about keeping the revolution peaceful and to use any non-violent means to support our objectives. That’s why we formed the SNVM.

“Our main aim is to spread awareness about how the change should happen. We communicate with people on the ground and ask them about their needs. We plan online awareness campaigns and events, sometimes in Syria.”

Assil cannot return to his home for fear of either being arrested or subject to a travel ban.

Although he says many ordinary Syrians feel the outside world is not helping them, they have not given up. Many of his friends who have been arrested are back on the streets protesting the same day they are let out of prison.

“If nobody helps the Syrian protesters, it may end in civil war. But this is part of SNVM’s campaign: we are looking for change, not revenge,” says Assil.

“If the international community put more pressure on the Syrian government to allow foreign journalists into the country, it would help.

“Syrian protesters upload footage to Youtube from their mobile phones, but the regime constantly blocks phone and internet access in protest areas.

“All we need is a camera that can document to the outside world what is happening in my country.”

Issue

Activists 
Crimes Against Humanity And War Crimes 
Death In Custody 
Extrajudicial Executions And Other Unlawful Killings 
Freedom Of Expression 
MENA unrest 
Torture And Ill-treatment 

Country

Syria 

Region

Middle East And North Africa 

@amnestyonline on twitter

News

16 October 2014

Repressive and discriminatory legislation enacted over the last 18 months in Uganda has led to increasing state repression, violence and homophobic and gender-based... Read more »

17 October 2014

Prisoner of conscience and torture victim Ángel Amílcar Colón Quevedo has been released from prison after five years in pre-trial detention, in a move that is welcome but... Read more »

22 October 2014

The release from prison of one of Viet Nam’s most high profile prisoners of conscience is a positive step, but authorities must now free the scores of other peaceful... Read more »

20 October 2014

An Amnesty International investigation into allegations of execution-style and other deliberate killings by pro-Russian separatists and pro-Kyiv forces has found evidence... Read more »

17 October 2014

Testimonies gathered by Amnesty International indicate that Egyptian security forces used excessive force to crack down on recent student demonstrations at Alexandria... Read more »