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Syria, Egypt, Bahrain (and Beyond) LiveBlog: The Women March

A women's march in Yemen on Tuesday

See also Bahrain Feature: Protests and Clashes Across the Kingdom Tonight
Middle East/North Africa Special: Policing the Female Body...and the Women Who Resist
Tuesday's Syria, Egypt, Bahrain (and Beyond): Uncertainty of Death, Certainty of Conflict

2025 GMT: Students from Ain Shams University in Cairo marched today to the Ministry of Defence. Click the image for a full gallery.

2010 GMT: We reported earlier on todays protests in Sitra, Bahrain. Footage has also been posted showing another demonstration in Karbadad, responding to a call by the 14 February Coalition on its Facebook Page for a march "On the Path of the Martyrs":

In Syria, protesters tonight in Hamidieh Hama demand an Arab Protection Force:

1950 GMT: Egypt's chief forensic doctor told AFP today that 12 of the 13 protesters killed in recent attacks by police died of gunshot wounds. One died of trauma to the head in detention.

Also, women continue to show their presence in protests in Tahrir Square. This image from tonight is telling:

1925 GMT: Protests in Egypt may be moving beyond Tahrir Square now. Al-Masry Al-Youm reports that at least 2,000 Ain Shams University students march to the Ministry of Defense from their campus to decry the attacks on protesters in Tahrir and other parts of downtown Cairo. The march was organized by the April 6 Movement. Hundreds of engineering students marched to the ministry in protest as well.

Meanwhile a hardline cleric in Cairo blamed the woman who was stripped and beaten in Cairo for the attack on her and called for the implementation of Sharia law in the country as a solution to the country's problems.

1920 GMT: We have previously reported on the disturbing trend in Bahrain of police firing tear gas on random houses in villages where protests are held. That continues tonight in Sitra after protesters were beaten back. Here's an image to illustrate:

1905 GMT: In Yemen, as we reported yesterday, thousands of protesters have begun a "Life March" from Taez to Sana'a to demand that outgoing president Ali Abdullah Saleh should stand trial for killing protesters. A large amount of videos and photographs from the first day of the 250 kilometre walk, including interviews with the marchers, has recently been posted online. The "Life March" aims to reach its destination on Friday.

Fireworks, car horns and cheers greet the marchers as they reach Freedom Square in Ibb:

See more

1850 GMT: Now Lebanon reports that at least 22 fatalities have occurred in the Southern province of Daraa in Syria today. The report adds:

"Twenty-two people -- six deserters, a civilian and 15 members of the armed forces and security forces -- were killed and several dozen civilians were wounded in their homes," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

It said several of the civilians had been seriously wounded "during clashes in which both light and heavy machineguns were used in the town of Dael" in Daraa province.

The Britain-based rights group also said that "security forces attacked the Omari Mosque in Dael."

1830 GMT: New video of night protest in Baba Amr, Syria:

1810 GMT: Some tweeps are reporting they can hear gunfire from the direction of Sitra, but so far there is no confirmation on the ground. Protesters have been dispersed and many are trying to hide inside homes, according to Zainab AlKhawaja, who is on the ground in Sitra. There are more images, including this one which shows protesters scampering to escape the tear gas:

Protesters at the frontlines, moments before they were attacked:

Protesters holding a banner that says, "Down with [King] Hamad":

1800 GMT: It seems that the fear of attack on protesters in Sitra, Bahrain came true. Moments ago, protesters were attacked with tear gas and sound bombs according to Zainab AlKhawaja, who is on the scene right now.

Here's another picture of the protesters in Sitra, before the attack:

1750 GMT: Reports from Twitter and other social media continue to stream in about a protest in Sitra, Bahrain. Hundreds of protesters, including women, are out on the streets in defiance of the continued crackdown against protesters. Said Yousif of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and Zainab AlKhawaja are currently on the scene. Zainab reports that police are just a few meters away and an attack might be coming any time. Protesters are chanting, "Peaceful; Peaceful" and "We want freedom". Here's an image of the protests:

1730 GMT: The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had strong words for the rulers of Bahrain today. In a statement released on ONHCR's official website, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called on the Bahraini government to take hasty measures to address the “deepening mistrust” in the society and to release all protesters who have been arrested during protests. She added:

“Thousands of individuals have lost their jobs for participating in demonstrations, many students have had their education derailed - these serious violations of their economic and social rights must be immediately addressed. Those who have been unfairly dismissed should be reinstated to their original functions.”

Pillay also urged the Government to address the prevailing impunity at all levels, including for security forces responsible for excessive use of force on peaceful protestors and officers who perpetrated torture, sometimes with fatal consequences, in detention centres.

“We continue to receive reports of the repression of small protests in Bahrain and although some security officers have reportedly been arrested, we have yet to see any prosecution of security forces for civilian injuries and deaths,” she said. “Such impunity – at all levels – is a serious impediment to national reconciliation.”

Read the full story on ONHCR's website here.

1720 GMT: Even in the face of an almost massacre-like crackdown on protesters, people continue to occupy the streets of Syria. Here are three videos to show their extent:

1. Massive funeral procession/protest for slain protesters in Zabadani in Damascus:

2. Anti government demonstration in the Hamidiyeh neighborhood of Damascus in solidarity with Idlib and Homs:

3. Kafarnbel, Idlib: funeral procesion of Imad AlDeen al-Mohammad:

1648 GMT: LCCS reports that 16 have been killed by security forces so far today, including 2 women and 2 children:

5 were killed in Hama,4 in Homs, 3 in Idlib,and 3 in Daraa and a martyr in Lattakia

They have also posted a gallery of videos from across the country, including graphic images from Narwa, Daraa.

1638 GMT: This video reportedly shows a large demonstration in Mare, Aleppo, where the protesters chant, "Syria wants freedom."

Reportedly an anti-government protest in Tal Refat, Aleppo:

1633 GMT: Activists claim that this video was taken in Qadam, Damascus, and shows the "shabiha" presence at the funeral for Mohammad Ayham al-Samman. Ealrier, we reported that the funeral reportedly came under fire from security forces.

1620 GMT: The plot thickens - literally. In Egypt, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has stated that they have broken up a foreign plot to overthrow the government. According to SCAF, protesters may be "unwitting participants" in the plot:

The military rulers have made a number of references recently to outside forces and to threats to the national security, for which they have been lampooned by activists and observers. The Gulf News report, which comes via the state-owned news agency Mena, portrays protesters as unwitting accomplices in a foreign plot:

However, taking a wider analysis of the claims, the government has also accused "saboteurs" of trying to burn the parliament building to the ground. As the details of the report have not been released, it is hard to tell whether there really was a plot against SCAF or whether this is an attempt to paint the protests as national security threats.1536 GMT: The Arab League has condemned the recent killings in Syria, and has called on Assad to protect civilian life. Turkish foreign minister Davutoglu has done the same, stating that Turkey will follow the lead of the Arab League. The Syrian opposition is screaming at the Arab League for what it sees as complete inaction and appeasement, allowing Assad to buy time while civilians die.

So what happens next? The telling statement by the Arab League may be the paragraph about the need to establish the proper environment for international observers. If the Arab League continues to see violence in Syria, it is possible that the deal will be nullified and the observers called off.

The Syrian regime will say that this is a move designed for the Arab League to avoid seeing the truth. The question then becomes - what will the league do to stop the violence if the Syrian regime continues to defy its end of the bargain?

1530 GMT: The voice on the video says that this is a shop in Zabel el Zawiya, Idlib province, reportedly the epicenter of the newest wave of violence against civilians:

1521 GMT: The LCCS is already increasing today's death toll:

The number of martyrs in Syria today has risen to 12 so far, including one woman. 5 were killed in Hama, 3 in Idlib, 3 in Homs and one in Daraa

Also, they have published details of the death in Daraa.

Daraa:Al-Naeeme: The martyrdom of Mr. Ahmed Adera Al-Taibawey (35 yrs) under torture. His corpse was found with his eyes torn out near the irrigation canal

In Homs, the scene is perhaps even more desperate. Zahra Muhammed Al-Qoodsy, a mother of 2, was reportedly killed while inside her home on 60th street in the Derb Baalba district (map of Homs). Meanwhile, Ayman Al-Issa was reportedly killed while crossing the same street in an attempt to deliver food supplies.

While things are growing more desperate elsewhere, day to day life in Homs is, according to activists, nearly impossible, and always dangerous.

1456 GMT: The Syrian National Council has released a statement calling for immediate international action in order to protect civilian lives in Syria:

“In light of the horrific massacres the brutal Assad regime is committing against unarmed civilians in Zawyiyeh mountain, Idlib, Homs, and several other areas in Syria, which have resulted in nearly 250 fallen heroes during a 48-hour period, the SNC calls for: An emergency meeting of the Arab League to condemn the bloody massacres committed by the Assad regime and to cooperate with the United Nations in taking the necessary measures to protect Syrian civilians.

An emergency UN Security Council session to discuss the regime’s massacres in Zawyiyeh mountain, Idlib, and Homs, in particular; issue international condemnation thereof; declare the cities and towns being brutally attacked “safe zones” that enjoy international protection; and force the regime’s forces to withdraw from said areas.

A declaration that Zawiyeh mountain, Idlib, and Homs are disaster areas exposed to large-scale genocide and displacement operations by the Syrian regime’s militias; we urge the International Red Crescent and other relief organizations to intervene directly and provide urgent humanitarian assistance.”

This is somewhat startling. The SNC now appears to be calling for direct military intervention, at least in the protection of cities like Homs, Daraa, Hama, and Idlib. The Syrian opposition, unlike the Libyan opposition, has been slow to come to this conclusion, but this may be the strongest worded statement yet calling for intervention from the outside.

1448 GMT: A gruesome video - this man, his hands tied behind his back, was reportedly killed in Hama by security forces.

We have no way, yet, of verifying his identity or the location of the video.1445 GMT: So far, the LCCS reports that 8 have been killed in Syria, 5 in Hama and 3 in Idlib.

1441 GMT: The Local Coordinating Committees of Syria have shared this video, reportedly showing security forces firing at a funeral in Qadam, Damascus:

The LCCS also reports that over 100 people have been arrested in house-to-house raids in Harasta, a northern suburb of Damascus. Security raids are also reported in Dumayr, and more tanks are reported in Irbeen. This is perhaps another sign of how nervous the regime is about controlling unrest close to the capital.

Further out from the capital, there is a report of over 300 arrests in Al Ebada, east of Damascus.

Meanwhile, large protests are reported in Quaboun, Zabanani, and beyond.

1417 GMT: The Iranian and Syrian government have accused unknown gunmen of kidnapping a group of engineers from Homs:

Press TV, owned by the Iranian government, is reporting that five Iranian technicians have been kidnapped in the restive Syrian city of Homs. It said the Iranians have been involved in building the city's power plant over the past two years.

The report does not say where they were seized. Press TV says the kidnappers were "unknown armed gunmen".

Yes, the report says tee "restive Syrian city of Homs."

1354 GMT: James Miller takes the liveblog. While he catches up, Al Jazeera reports on the situation in Syria, particularly Idlib and Midan:

1210 GMT: Alaa El Din Al Youssef, a Syrian opposition member in Idlib, has described Tuesday's attack on nearby Jebel al-Zawiya as a "massacre":

Civilians were surrounded by security forces who killed 100 of us. The corpses of those killed were left in the streets and the mosques and we are not allowed to bury any of them. Some of those killed cannot be recognised. Some were burnt and some beheaded with their hands tied. We are really scared because the area might be stormed once again.

Zeina Khodr of Al Jazeera English offers the reasons for the intensified regime assaults, "It is clear that army defectors have taken control over some towns and villages, almost as though they have created some sort of safe area, where protesters from other regions were seeking a safe haven and where defectors were able to operate from."

1200 GMT: The BBC reports on tension at Central Hospital in the Libyan capital Tripoli over the presence of armed militia.

On Tuesday, doctors went back to work after a 10-day strike, called when the militiamen broke into the office of Professor Nureddin Aribi, the hospital's director, forced him out at gunpoint, and briefly detained him.

A Ministry of Interior spokesman, Colonel Mustafa al-Tir, described the incident as a "misunderstanding". An orthopaedic registrar allied with the striking doctors said, "The problem is now solved and we are going back to work, but we will see how it goes."

1140 GMT: A useful summary of the situation in Iraq from Prashant Rao of AFP:

A year after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's unity government was approved by MPs, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi has holed up in the northern Kurdish region as authorities issued a warrant for his arrest, a Sunni deputy premier faces the sack, and the main Sunni bloc has boycotted cabinet and parliament.

All this comes just days after US troops completed their withdrawal from the country, leaving behind what US President Barack Obama described as a "sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq."

But on Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden held a telephone call with Maliki, urging him to work with other parties to resolve the worsening crisis that threatens Iraq's fragile political truce. Biden spoke by phone with Maliki and with parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi "to discuss the current political climate in Baghdad," the White House said.

"The vice president told both leaders that the United States is monitoring events in Iraq closely," it added.

Biden also "stressed the urgent need for the prime minister and the leaders of the other major blocs to meet and work through their differences together."

Officials in Washington also confirmed the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, David Petraeus, the former US military commander credited with containing sectarian violence in Iraq, had paid a visit to Baghdad in recent days.

But officials said it was a previously scheduled trip to Iraq and Afghanistan and that Petraeus was not engaged in political talks in Baghdad.

0840 GMT: In Bahrain, workers dismissed during this year's protests have gathered again in front of the Minister of Labour, joined by supporters such as Mattar Matter, former MP and senior figure in the Al Wefaq opposition group.

The regime declared on Tuesday that it would reinstate 180 fired civil servants on 1 January, but that is only a small percentage of the employees dismissed --- the Government says about 1600, activists claim about 2500 --- for political reasons since February.

0835 GMT: Human Rights Watch reports that Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, the son of the late Liyban leader, is being held by a militia outside the Libyan capital Tripoli. He is being denied access to legal counsel.

Fred Abrahams of HRW saw Qaddafi on Sunday in the mountain town of Zintan, southwest of Tripoli, where he has been held since he was captured on 119 November. Abrahams met Qaddafi for 30 minutes: he reported the captive was being treated “with care” but complained of “total isolation” from his family who have not been allowed to visit.

Several high-ranking officials in Libya’s Nationa Transitional Council, including the general prosecutor, a former justice minister, and Prime Minister Abdel Rahim el-Keeb have met Qaddafi in Zintan.

The International Criminal Court wants to try Qaddafi in The Hague for crimes against humanity, but the NTC is demanding that he be put on trial in Libya.

0815 GMT: The BBC offers an overview of the serious economic situation in Egypt, with reporter Jon Leyne visiting a cotton factory and noting, "The country is haemorrhaging about $1bn (£638m) a month in foreign currency reserves, and the Egyptian pound has fallen to new lows."

0700 GMT: Syria continues to be shrouded in death and confusion. After Monday's "fog of war" in which an unknown but large number of people were killed, Tuesday brought more casualties. Cut-offs in communications made it difficult to establish the details, but --- working with information from the Local Coordination Committees, who say at least 78 people were slain --- we would set out the basics of "dozens" now dying on a daily basis, with the concentration of the violence in Idlib Province in the northwest. That points not only to the civilian toll from the action of regime forces, but to the emerging military conflict between Assad troops and a growing insurgency.

And, while most media will be headlining with the impending visit of Arab League observers, we would point to another development: Tuesday illustrated the escalation both of protests in the Midan section of Damascus and the regime's attempts to make them go away.

0655 GMT: We open this morning with a special feature, "Policing the Female Body...and the Women Who Resist".

That, in turn, offers an introduction to the breaking overnight news that activist Zainab Alkhawaja was freed after a five-day detention in Bahrain --- "These last few day were tough, but the only thing that broke me down was leaving political prisoner Fathiya [Abduali] behind" --- Tuesday's "Million Woman March" in Egypt, and a photograph from Yemen yesterday of continued defiance of President Saleh's regime (see top of entry).

The New York Times pays attention this morning:

Several thousand women demanding the end of military rule marched through downtown Cairo on Tuesday evening in an extraordinary expression of anger over images of soldiers beating, stripping and kicking female demonstrators in Tahrir Square.

“Drag me, strip me, my brothers’ blood will cover me!” they chanted. “Where is the field marshal?” they demanded of the top military officer, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. “The girls of Egypt are here.”

Historians called the event the biggest women’s demonstration in modern Egyptian history, the most significant since a 1919 march against British colonialism inaugurated women’s activism here, and a rarity in the Arab world. It also added a new and unexpected wave of protesters opposing the ruling military council’s efforts to retain power and its tactics for suppressing public discontent.

The protest’s scale stunned even feminists here.

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