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Remembering the start of the Syrian Revolution

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Remembering the start of the Syrian Revolution

In March 2011, as anti-government protests swept the Middle East, Syrians called peacefully for political change after decades of autocratic rule. Initially, the demonstrations in Syria were modest, but after 15 boys were kidnapped and tortured by security forces in Daraa for writing graffiti on some walls, they swelled, spreading to nearly every major city in the country. Three days into the demonstrations, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad ordered the military to attack the protesters, dragging the country into a civil war which has claimed the lives of over 600,000 people, spawned the creation of Daesh, and resulted in international interventions. As the violence begins to wind down, the hopes of Syria’s revolutionaries hang in the balance.

What: The start of the Syrian Revolution

Where: Cities across Syria

When: 15 March 2011

What happened?

Following successful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, by early 2011 protests were gripping most of the Arab world. Inspired by what they saw on television, in Syria’s southern province of Daraa, a group of schoolboys wrote pro-revolutionary slogans on a wall: “The people want the fall of the regime”.

The local secret police arrested 15 boys aged between 10 and 15, detaining them under the control of General Atef Najeeb, a cousin of President Bashar Al-Assad. The boys were beaten, electrocuted, burned and had their fingernails pulled out, prompting major unrest on 15 March. Three days later, security forces opened fire on protesters, killing three and injuring dozens more. The brutal crackdown intensified in the following weeks; on 23 March, Daraa’s Al-Omari Mosque, which had been a refuge for the injured, was stormed by Special Forces and five people were killed. Weeks later, in the town of Douma, a funeral was fired upon as mourners gathered to bury protesters killed just days before.

READ: The effects of Syria’s war on health could last for generations

By 25 March, protests had spread nationwide. Security forces were despatched to respond; they not only used water cannons and tear gas, but also beat protesters and fired........

© Middle East Monitor