Friday, August 24, 2007

An Unstoppable Juggernaut.. or a Frightened Little Mouse?..

The juggernaut of tyranny continues its wretched march.. crushing everything that comes in its way..
In every part of the Middle East, freedom of thought, and freedom of expression, are being trampled upon by Regimes that seem to have developed a growing sense of invincibility..
Yazan, in his intelligent and very interesting blog, reminds us all, with dogged determination and unrelenting perseverance that puts us all to shame, of the plight of those brave souls, who are suffering the heavy tread of the oppressive, barbaric boot of these tyrannical regimes...
Here's what Yazan had to say...

Freedom of Speech, Massacred and dragged through the streets of the Middle East
What is happening in the Arab World is scary.
Reading this, made me go into real melancholy.
And the fact that there was absolutely no publicity about it makes it even more painful. Why do we have to be so selective in what we chose to fight for. Why was Kareem on almost every single blog, all through his trial, and sentence. While I struggled to find any mention of Mohamed Rashed al-Shohhi's case. And was it not for Amira slipping me a link to this small roundup from Sami Ben Gharbia on GlobalVoices I would not have even heard about it.
While Egyptian blogger Kareem was on trial because of things he chose to write, Mohamed is sentenced to 1 year in prison and $13,600 fine for an anonymous comment on an online forum he happened to run. [You think there might be a connection with the decision to ban comments on Syrian sites earlier this month?! Hmmm...].
Mohamed is in prison, and he literally did not do ANYTHING.
It is not a blow at freedom of speech. No, this a serious well-planned decision that can only be described as mental-terrorism. This is not aimed to keep him from practicing his right to express himself (Again, the guy did not do anything), rather this is a warning to anyone who might even think of raising a voice. Whether against totalitarianism, corruption or repression... all of them are a common characteristic of our Arab World.
Again, in a very similar case, Kuwaiti blogger Bashar Al-Sayegh was arrested [He was released today] yesterday for an anonymous comment left on his forum.
If you read this, please help spread the word. Let's not be selective in what we chose to rally for.
The latest chunk of news coming from our Middle East does not look good.
Blogspot is still banned in Syria, contrary to earlier reports about the ban being lifted.
And, Egypt, Tunisia... Where to start exactly?!
By Yazan Bardan
While Yazan talks about the Middle East as a whole, I believe that the excesses of the Syrian Regime deserve a special mention.. Their vindictiveness seems to know no bounds, and here's an example..
Riad Seif is a former independent Member of the People's Assembly (a pathetic and impotent institution, supposedly functioning as a Parliment) is a vocal opponent of the Regime. He has only recently been released from prison. His release only came after mounting pressure form Amnesty International and other Human Rights oraganizations, that have persisted to highlight the plight of Mr. Seif and his fellow Prisoners of Conscience. Of particular concern was his ill health, which was certainly not helped by his repeated imprisonment.
Even after his release from prison, Mr. Seif does not seem to escape the harsh and vindictive whims of the Syrian Regime. Mr. Seif has recently been diagnosed with prostatic cancer, and wanted to travel abroad for treatment, but his application was rejected. Here is an English translation of a statement that Mr. Seif has produced recently (Thank you, Maureen!..): (Regrettably, I do not have the original Arabic text. Help, anyone?..)
Riad Seif: A statement to the public regarding the prevention of my travel for medical treatment

More than two months after medical examinations and tests established that I have an advanced stage of prostate cancer, and after ascertaining that the necessary and viable treatment for such a situation is not available in Syria while it is available in some developed countries with the possibility of successful treatment as high as 90%, I submitted a request to travel for treatment outside the country to the Syrian authorities. So far, all of my attempts have failed and I have received nothing from the security authorities but delays and postponements, despite the advanced stage of the disease and fears that it might metastasize to other parts of my body.

I was subjected to a similar ordeal previously during my time in prison, when the coronary angiogram I had on 2/7/2005 showed an occlusion of the left anterior descending coronary artery, which required open-heart surgery to bypass the occlusion. After I was released on 1/18/2006, I filed a request to leave the country so that I could conduct the necessary surgical work, but this request was also denied.

Now that I have run out of options, I can find no alternative but to present my state of health to all those who are interested in human rights issues in Syria and in the world, with the hope that I will procure assistance in obtaining my natural and legitimate right to receive necessary treatment abroad that could let me spend the rest of my life in a natural way.

Damascus 13/8/2007

One has to wonder.. Why would an all-powerful Regime who proclaims unwavering public support, and an eternal and perpetual right to rule unchallenged, pursue and bully these individuals?.. To my simple mind, there is an obvious reason why the Regime continues with its relentless campaign against those who oppose it.. It is because the Regime, despite its might and its apparent invincibility, fears those brave and intelligent voices.. The Regime is scared of these individuals and of their actions.. the ripples caused by their activities threaten to shake the very foundation of this rotten and corrupt Regime..
Perhaps, after all, that juggernaut of tyranny is no more than a frightened little mouse..

8 comments: said...

Hello bloggers,

I am not a blogger myself, however do read many of your blog entries. I must say I enjoy them!

However, my reason for writing this afternoon is of a much more urgent nature. I was wondering if any of you (Bridgit you seemed like a great person to start with) could help me find Americans living in Syria; particularily in the town of Hama.

Jacqueline "Nicole" Vienneau a Canadian backpacker went missing in Hama, Syria on March 31st. Her details and the exact circumstances of her disappearance are outlined in the following website:

Her family, namely her brother Matthew (in Toronto) is keeping a
"live/ daily journal" of investigation/ sighting, and just plan "happenings" in the case. This journal can be found at

If any of you bloggers could me of assistance (re: know American's in living in Syria) please respond to me (email address provided upon request) or directly to the email address contained in Matthew's blog. Your assistance would be so appreciated. I understand that Nicole's case has been widely circulated throught the media outlets in Syria. Also Nicole's family and friends in Canada understand that her disapperance is not common in Syria. We understand that Syria is a very safe country for women to travel in.

Thanks so much! Please feel free to circulate my note amongst your networks.

abufares said...

"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it is destroyed from within."
W. Durant

This is the opening quote from, what I consider the greatest movie ever made on the history of the world. Although this Mel Gibson's work is about the Maya civilization it's truly more encompassing and his vision certainly applies to all of humanity.
In our particular instance, in the Middle East in general, those in the power seats should start realizing what they are doing to their countries, their citizens and most importantly, in the grand scheme of things, to their civilization.

Yazan said...

Many thanx for writing this my friend, and for the wonderful things you said about me.

I agree completely, no matter how belligerent they can get, simple words will always make them bleed.

I hope that a country like UAE, one that is very conscious about its image, would reconsider such a ridiculous decision.

This is the firt time I see the letter from Riad Seif, thank you for passing it.

Maureen said...

And not satisfied with imprisoning Kamal Labwani for 12 years, he is now being charged before a military court because of something the prison police allege he said inside the prison. The charge carries a sentence of three to five years to be added to the 12 years he is already serving. No date has yet been set for the first hearing.

Philip I said...

SB, whatever happend to the summer holiday mood, or is it the bad weather in the UK that is making you sound so gloomy?! Here is something else to add to your gloom:

"A rat is put into a small enclosure. His food and water dishes are in one corner placed on an electric grid. When the rat goes to his dishes, sometimes he is allowed to eat and drink. At other times he gets a shock. There is no way for it to prevent the shock because it is administered entirely at random. No matter how it tries to approach its dishes sometimes it is shocked and sometimes it isn't. The rat has no control over the shock in this situation because getting the shock has nothing whatsoever with the rat's behaviour. If the gate to its enclosure is open, studies have shown that the rat usually doesn't leave. Instead it cowers, positioned somewhere between the food and water he needs to sustain his life and the gate through which it could leave. Essentially it is frozen, unable to approach or leave its source of sustenance.

Another way to understand this phenomenon is to consider a common brain washing technique used by cults to take away normal independent volition. In this system a person is treated with alternately positive and then negative regard and behaviour for no reliably ascertainable reason. People treated this way fall into pleasing behaviour, trying to get the positive response.

The historical record of the behaviour of guards and inmates in prison camps offers another analogy. Guards often treated inmates erratically sometimes offering kindness (food, shelter, relief from labour) and sometimes meting out sadistic cruelty (beatings, starvation, and random shooting). Again, there was no way to prevent the cruelty or to earn the more humane treatment. This resulted in many prisoners giving up and becoming indifferent to beatings and self care. They stopped washing or feeding themselves and didn't move to shelter to avoid the cold winds. People reduced to this state died rapidly."

The above is an excerpt from a newspaper article by Ann Veilleux 1i 1999 about the battered wife syndrome. It makes you wonder about the nature of the relationship between the regime and the Syrian people but I've never heard of a battered wife dancing in the street at the prospect of yet another beating!

I personally do not think the regime is that "sophisticated" in controlling the population. More likely, those responsible for internal security are simply the vindictive types, stubborn and resentful semi-educated psychological misfits who get pampered simply to serve their masters well.

The Syrian Brit said...

My thoughts are with your missing friend.. I sincerely hope Nicole will turn up safe and sound soon.. I do hope people reading your appeal, who have any contacts back there, can do somehting to help..

Abu Fares,
I agree entirely with that quote from W. Durant, even if I do not share your view of Mel Gibson's 'Apocalypto'..

I sincerely hope that even Regimes that are as cruel and ruthless as those, can be shamed into some decent actions (although the pessimist in me says 'Dream on!..')

Adding insult to injury or what!.. How typical, though!.. How typical!..

Philip I,
I like the 'Battered Wife' analogy!.. even if it is not entirely applicable, as you note yourself!.. According to that theory, I guess the masses dancing in the street are still in the phase of 'trying to please in order to avoid punishment'.. It seems that they either have not yet realized the randomness and unpredicatbility of the Regime's actions, or more likely, people are living in mass delusion..

By the way, is it just me or is anybody else having problems loggin on to Rime Allaf's 'Mosaics'?..

Anonymous said...

Is the life of a Canadian far more precious than of a Syrian?
How many Syrians disappear in the dungeons of the regime?
How many people are killed each year under torture, or far worse, there are people dying because of negligent in Syrian hospitals?
If the Syrians are not giving any value to their lives do you think they will give a value to the lives of the others?

Yazan said...

I think it is alright now... it is probably that she forgot to renew her subscription to the domain.

Alex says she's probably still in Syria, so...

Best of hope for Nicole, I've been following her case over CS and other places for a while now, and I send her family my deepest sympathies.