Iranian cartoonist Maya Neyestani on the Syrian crisis
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Tuesday's Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: A Deadline Passes as 160 Die
The United States continues to be deeply concerned about the situation in Bahrain, and we urge all parties to reject violence in all its forms. We condemn the violence directed against police and government institutions, including recent incidents that have resulted in serious injuries to police officers. We also call on the police to exercise maximum restraint, and condemn the use of excessive force and indiscriminate use of tear gas against protestors, which has resulted in civilian casualties.
We continue to underscore, both to the government and citizens of Bahrain, the importance of working together to address the underlying causes of mistrust and to promote reconciliation. In this respect, we note our continued concern for the well-being of jailed activist Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja and call on the Government of Bahrain to consider urgently all available options to resolve his case. More broadly, we urge the government to redouble its ongoing efforts to implement the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, and renew our call for the government, opposition parties, and all segments of Bahraini society to engage in a genuine dialogue leading to meaningful reforms that address the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis.
2030 GMT: A flash mob in a Damascus shopping centre today, calling for an end to violence:
2010 GMT: The Local Co-ordination Committees of Syria claim 97 people have died from violence today. Homs, with many perishing in the Deir Baalba section, had 57 deaths. Other casualties were reported in Daraa, the Damascus suburb of Wadi Barada, Hama, Aleppo, Lattakia, and Deir ez Zor.
Regime officials said seven officers were wounded, three critically, by an explosion in a "terrorist attack" Monday in the village of AlEker.
Bahrain's State news agency said suspects were in custody and would remain in detention during the investigation.
Activists and the opposition society Al Wefaq claimed security forces had moved into AlEker to impose "collective punishment" on protesters.
And this was reportedly the scene in the Khalidiya district:
Kafar Souseh: A Moment of Silence at the Cham City Center Mall; Participants Hold Up Banners that Say "Stop the Killing;" Three Arrested Afterwards.
1751 GMT: This video was reportedly leaked by Syrian soldiers in Karak, Daraa Province. The men in the video, possibly insurgent fighters, were reportedly killed by the soldiers. Some of the men have many wounds, and one of the men appears to have been shot in the head at close range. The video is graphic.
1539 GMT: The Libyan government has appealed a decision made by the International Criminal Court to try Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi and is seeking to prosecute the son of ousted-leader Muammar Qaddafi inside Libya:
The Libyan government wants to prosecute Gadhafi itself, as it "regards the trial of Saif al-Islam and Abdullah al-Senussi as a matter of the highest national importance, not only in bringing justice for the Libyan people but also in demonstrating that the new Libyan justice system is capable of conducting fair trials (that meet all applicable international standards) in complex cases," it says.
Al-Senussi, who was Libya's chief of intelligence under the Gadhafi regime, is wanted by both the ICC and the Libyan government. He was arrested in Mauritania last month.
The appeal document also seeks to answer ICC concerns about Saif al-Islam Gadhafi's well-being, saying the government "has expended considerable resources in order to ensure the safe and secure temporary custody" of Gadhafi in Zintan and is negotiating to bring him to the capital, where facilities would be better.
1532 GMT: In Syria, the LCCS reports that the overall death toll has risen by 30 today, "including 2 women, 4 children, and 5 defected soldiers; who were lost earlier and it was confirmed today that they were martyred: 11 martyrs in Homs, 6 martyr in Daraa, 6 martyrs in Wadi Barada in Damascus Suburbs, 3 martyrs in Hama, 2 martyrs in Aleppo, and a martyrs in each of Lattakia and Deir Ezzor."
Earlier, there was a report from the LCCS that 30 were killed in Wadi Barada alone. However, either this was a mistranslation or misunderstanding (it's possible that the original statement meant to say that 30 were injured and many others killed), or the LCCS has not yet confirmed the identities of those killed. (see updates starting at 1344 GMT)
1523 GMT: The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) had invited Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab to speak to one of their conferences in Cairo, but as we reported earlier, Rajab was blocked by Egyptian immigration officials.
The CIHRS has condemned the move, and is stipulating that it believes Rajab was stopped at the Cairo airport because of his outspoken criticism of human rights abuses in Bahrain and the Gulf region.
For the second time in less than two weeks, the Egyptian authorities at the Cairo International Airport prevented prominent Bahraini human rights defender from entering the country. Nabeel Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) is currently being told by security personnel at the Cairo International Airport that he is banned from entering Egypt.
Once arrived in Cairo at 12:30 PM, Rajab’s passport was seized by passport control authorities, who later told him that he is prevented from entering Egypt and would be deported back on the next flight leaving to Bahrain. CIHRS staff was able to talk to the passport control officer on the phone, who said that Rajab’s name is listed by “security” as banned from entering Egypt. No reasons were given. CIHRS lawyer is currently at the Cairo International Airport inquiring about the matter.
1438 GMT: The building pictured below appears to be the Muhathab Rajjoob Mall in Homs, Syria:
Before and after Bashar's reforms: j.mp/IgPzxz— BSyria (@BSyria) April 11, 2012
The LCCS has posted this picture in a photo gallery of the damage countrywide. Almost every picture in the gallery could easily make today's live coverage - the devastation is stunning:
1422 GMT: More images from yesterday's clashes in Bahrain:
1402 GMT: Bahraini opposition figurehead Nabeel Rajab has been detained in Egypt, and the government is attempting to send him back to Bahrain. This also recently happened to Maryam AlKhawaja, and several other prominent human rights figures. An activist reports:
EA's John Horne weighs in on the possible motivations of the Egyptian government:
1334 GMT: The CFDPC, a network of activists with contacts in and around Syria's capital, share a different video of the shelling of Wadi Barada.
While the town has seen violence before (most towns have, especially near Damascus), this could mark a significant escalation just northwest of the capital (note - the location on the map is an estimate, as the reports of shelling in the Barada Valley are generalized, perhaps indicating that the shelling was distributed over a wide area).
1326 GMT: A massive escalation in a suburb of Damascus, Wadi Barada --- the LCCS reports that approximately 30 people have been killed in the suburb, and many others are injured. This would be a massive spike in violence this close to the capital.
This video (posted by an account we're not familiar with and Tweeted by several activists) reportedly shows the shelling today in the area. The narrator says today's date and the name of the town, Wadi Barada:
1228 GMT: Another deadly day in Syria. Yesterday, the date that we were supposed to see the start of withdrawal of Syrian soldiers and armor from residential areas, saw over 100 deaths. Today, the LCCS reports that 14 have been killed so far:
Among them 5 defected soldiers in Daraa who had previously gone missing but were found to be martyred today. 6 martyrs were reported in Homs, 6 in Daraa, 1 (a child) in Hama, and 1 in Deir Ezzor.
According to the Local Coordinating Committees, a series of towns and villages near Daraa, Hama, Aleppo, and Idlib have been the target of raids, gunfire, shelling, and arrest campaigns. The LCCS has also posted a letter detailing the extensive damage done by regime forces in raids of Dael, a key suburb and opposition hotbed near Daraa.
1212 GMT: The President of the Bahrain Center & Gulf Center For Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab, was supposed to be traveling to Egypt today. It appears that, for unstated reasons that are likely political, that won't be happening:
James Miller takes over today's live coverage. Thanks to Scott Lucas, who is taking some rare time off, for getting us started today.
Mohamad al-Bajadi was seized in March 2011 after expressing support for families, demonstrating outside the Ministry, who were demanding the release of jailed relatives.
A Ministry spokesman said, "Mohamad al-Bajadi did not go on hunger strike and he is in good health, consuming food on a regular basis and in the company of other inmates."
The Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) said at the weekend that Bajadi had been on hunger strike for the past month and had stopped drinking water.
Bajadi's trial, on charges including tarnishing the reputation of the state, was suspended after he refused to recognise the court.
0850 GMT: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin has told reporters today, "A political solution to the Syrian issue has reached a critical stage, but violence within Syria continues and civilian casualties are rising. China expresses its deep worries."
Khalid used the camera on his Skype-connected laptop to remotely lead the Guardian on a makeshift tour of Jourat al-Shiyah, a central district of Homs, the rebel stronghold that has suffered most acutely in the crackdown by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad that has killed an estimated 9,000 people over the past 13 months. He has been living there since his nearby home district, Bab Saba'a, was occupied by the military. As a known activist his home was burned down.
Moving the camera between his own gaunt, slightly bearded face and the scene around him, Khalid showed the skeleton of a burnt-out car, a snapped electricity pole – deliberately targeted, he said, to deprive residents of power --- and then a large block of flats, now half-hollowed out by shells, some balconies shot away, and abandoned.
"They want everyone to leave Homs, because if everyone leaves then there is no one here who can protest against the regime. We have had no supplies of food for three days," Khalid said. Behind him, occasional pick-up trucks roared past, filled with more fleeing families. Even this, he said, was not always a safe option: "If they are stopped at a checkpoint the army will look for activists. Often they will take all the men, leaving just the women and children." In many areas, he said, only the old were left.
Just further along the rubble-strewn street, he paused. "If I go any further I could be shot by snipers," he said. "Over there are 20 decomposing bodies. We can't move them because of the risks." A gunshot wound of almost any type is likely to lead to death, Khalid added: "We only have one hospital remaining, and we can't get to it because of the snipers."
0835 GMT: Video of Bahraini regime supporters demolishing a car at the Alba roundabout last night --- the crowd also reportedly trashed one of a number of supermarkets owned by a prominent Shia businessman:
Meanwhile, seven men arrested over the death of Zahra Saleh Mohammed, killed when she was struck in the head by a metal rod during clashes last November, have been cleared of manslaughter, assaulting police, setting a police patrol vehicle on fire, and subverting security
Only the charges of rioting and taking part in an illegal gathering remain.
0828 GMT: Speaking in Tehran today, United Nations envoy Kofi Annan said the Syrian regime has assured him it will respect a ceasefire, a day after withdrawal of forces was supposed to begin and less than 24 hours before it is to be completed.
Annan said at a televised press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, "I have received government assurances they will respect the ceasefire. If everyone respects it I think by 6 in the morning on Thursday we shall see improved conditions on the ground."
Annan said Iran, which has backed the Assad regime with diplomatic and --- allegedly --- logistical support, can be "part of the solution". He added, ""What is important is that governments in the region and beyond work with Syria to resolve the crisis."
Iran's Salehi called for space for the regime to carry out reforms, "The opportunity must be given to the Syrian government to make changes under the leadership of Bashar al Assad." He said the people of Syria should be able to enjoy rights such as freedom of political parties and freedom of elections, but "at the same time we have announced that we oppose interference in the affairs of all nations including Syria".
0820 GMT: A demonstration in Aleppo in Syria on Tuesday night:
And police using tear gas to disperse protests at Aleppo University earlier in the day:
0802 GMT: Things that make you go Mmmmm --- Bahrain's military Commander-in-Chief Field Marshal Shaikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, who recently accused Washington of trying to undermine the regime, met US Ambassador Thomas Krajeski on Tuesday.
The regime's news agency merely says, "The two sides reviewed current military cooperation relations between the two friendly countries in addition to a number of topics of mutual interest."
What and who emerges as the clear victor of this leak, however, is Ennahda itself. More than anything else, the leak reveals the incredible level of organization that the party implements in its internal procedure and strategy.
0555 GMT: Tuesday, according to United Nations envoy Kofi Annan, was the day that Syrian forces were supposed to begin withdrawing from cities and towns, paving the way for a cease fire. It was a day filled with posturing, from Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem's visit to Moscow to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's condemnation of Damascus and France's pronouncement that the Syrian regime had "lied" to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's assurance of "intensive discussions".
And it was a day when little changed. More than 100 people died, according to activists, as President Assad's military continued the pounding of Homs, Hama, and Idlib Provinces, with casualties also reported near Aleppo.
By afternoon, Annan had been reduced to the weak re-assurance, "We still have time between now and the 12th (Thursday) to stop violence." He "appeal[ed] to all, the government in the first place" to halt fighting without conditions.