Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ý Kiến- Phê Bình qua bài viết "An eyewitness account from besieged Homs"



An eyewitness account from besieged Homs

By Michael Weiss World Last updated: February 29th, 2012
19 Comments

Michael Weiss is the Communications Director of The Henry Jackson Society, a foreign policy think tank. A native New Yorker, he has written widely on English and Russian literature, American culture, Soviet history and the Middle East. Follow @michaeldweiss


A wounded Syrian boy lies half-buried in a shelled house in Baba Amr (Photo: AFP/Getty)

I've just had a chilling Skype conversation with a resident in Homs who wishes to be identified as "Sammy". He's in an area of the city close to Baba Amr, though for his safety I won't disclose it.

Sammy told me that the shelling started in the late afternoon there and it "was one of the most terrible days we have ever seen. Everything was shaking".

So is Sammy. It's snowing in Homs right now and I could hear his voice quaver from the cold. He's using a satellite phone to connect to the internet and his laptop runs on a battery that also, inconveniently, has to heat his home. Our conversation was brief.

Sammy confirmed that intense gun battles have raged throughout the city, presumably between the Free Syrian Army and the regime's forces. "We have seen Assad's forces trying to enter the area. They came back in a very fast way, so we know that someone is banning them from entering." (Another eyewitness interviewed early by the Today Programme estimated that 400 FSA fighters were stationed in Baba Amr and that they'd fight to the death to defend the besieged district.)

I asked about activists' accounts of helicopter gunships and even military fighter jets overhead. Sammy said he saw helicopters flying but didn't witness any firing from the air.

He's effectively trapped where he is. Escape isn't possible now because there are snipers stationed everywhere and "they shoot at everything that moves".

"I saw a lot of tanks, they are directly under my home. They move in and out of my street where I am now. When they go out, they become more violent."

I asked what message he had to relay to the world.

"I want them to stop this nightmare. I want them to rescue civilians. There are children here who haven't done anything, they have no fault and they need to be rescued immediately. The world should act seriously. It's not a good situation to say that we're in the 21st century and we can see such horrible things here."
Tags: Homs, Syria


***

Showing 19 comments


steve_jacks
29 minutes ago
I feel like a total bast'd but I can't muster any interest in this Syria thing - the more the word "Homs" hits the headlines the more I involuntarily smirk for some reason and dislike myself for it. I don't want anyone to suffer and I'm all for peace, love and justice for all but I have a low boredom threshold on foreign affairs and it is all a long way away involving people about whom I suppose I'm content to know next to nothing. Total bast'd I know, oh well, I'll live with it.



Adrian
Today 12:33 AM
It's difficult to know what's going on when the Media peddles such lies.

Are these fake casualties.
http://www.liveleak.com/view?i...



JohanDeMeulemeester
02/29/2012 11:37 PM
This kind of hard core propaganda piece devalues the entire Telegraph name and devalues the work and good name of the more serious journalists employed by the Telegraph.

Pravda journalists are unemployable anywhere else because they are seen as propaganda peddlers ; if the Telegravda is not careful with preserving journalistic integrity this paper will become worthless and the careers of all Telegraph journalists will be harmed by being associated with this kind of hard core propaganda that every single reader here has clearly exposed in the comments below



timothy hardacre
02/29/2012 10:48 PM
Interesting to read an entirely different story being told in www.voltairenet.org of 18 French soldiers captured in Homs and of the journalists being held hostage y units of the FSA
Its time we supported and protected the Christian communities in the ME.Why is General Hague arming the Christian oppressors? Orders from Washington again?



martiness
02/29/2012 10:22 PM
We're repeatedly told that we must differentiate between Islam (good) and "Islamism" (bad).

Isn't it a bit odd then that western policy is all about replacing Islamic regimes with Islamicist ones?

I wonder if there's an agenda thast isn't being shared with us?



geust
02/29/2012 09:44 PM
"I want them to stop this nightmare. I want them to rescue civilians. There are children here who haven't done anything, they have no fault and they need to be rescued immediately. The world should act seriously. It's not a good situation to say that we're in the 21st century and we can see such horrible things here."

This plea could so easily be from Gaza 2009. Except Mike Weiss would not be reporting it.



AlexanderDeLarge
02/29/2012 09:42 PM
Yahoodie propaganda.



windhund
02/29/2012 09:10 PM
How much does the DT charge the HJ society for the weekly propaganda piece?

(Edited by author 4 hours ago)



______ geust
02/29/2012 09:52 PM
The DT has just spiked the comments section for Janet Daley's admittedly pathetic rant at Baroness Tonge for daring to suggest that Israel won't be around forever. So much for free speech, don't how Alex Salmond's going to resist prison when he next suggests the UK's future is limited.

This country's lost the battle on free speech - RIP.



martiness
02/29/2012 08:50 PM
I'm not Jewish.

Why on earth would I want to see the current Syrian regime, which is comparitively tolerant of Christians and other minorities, and nowhere near as misogynistic as shitholes like Saudi, replaced by the same sort of psychopaths who have triumphed in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia?



______ RobotNick
02/29/2012 10:40 PM
Anyone who isn't a sniveling apologist of brutal tyrants.

(Edited by author 3 hours ago)



____________ martiness
02/29/2012 10:57 PM
You might like to complete your sentence



______ JohanDeMeulemeester
02/29/2012 09:14 PM
martiness ; very good points you make.

The Telegraph is owned by catholic proprietors (Barclay brothers) ; it is bizarre therefore that this newspaper is promoting the Al CIAeda terrorists who want to behead christians in Syria and blow up our christian churches.

Syria hosts some of christianity´s most sacred and traditional churches ; it is also home to the Crac des Chevaliers, the Crusader castle which one of the most important preserved medieval castles in the world.

If the Saudi/Israeli funded terrorists take control of Syria they will bomb our christian churches; massacre our priests and rape all our nuns in the many christian missions all around Syria.

Syria has always protected christians ; maybe it is time for the Telegraph to stop waging war on christians and denounce these islamic terrorists that Michael Weiss promotes in his Telegraph blog.



JohanDeMeulemeester
02/29/2012 07:12 PM
Far more interesting is confirmation that 19 French intelligence agents have been arrested inside Syria ; they were also armed with Satellite phones.

-------------------
France negotiating with Syria for release of 19 French intelligence agents

http://www.voltairenet.org/Fra...



______ windhund
02/29/2012 09:05 PM
Good call Sir..



hornblower
02/29/2012 07:04 PM
Perhaps the West could be of some help. We can transport to Homs the 'trained up' armies of Iraq and Afghanistan.
...
Sorry. Not trying to be flippant, here, but is it not possible for the 'Arab and/or Islamic World to do something? Anything?



______ JohanDeMeulemeester
02/29/2012 07:15 PM
Agreed ; the Saudi dictator and his Qatar dictator colleague should intervene to demand free elections and democracy in Syria. The same kind of democracy like in Saudi Arabia where there have never been any elections, where christmas trees and churches are forbidden and where women are not allowed to drive.



____________ chudsmania
02/29/2012 08:47 PM
Dont expect the EU to do anything either , as democracy no longer exists here , with technocrats running countries , illegal bailouts being bandied around , not forgetting countries voting no being told to keep voting until they get the 'right' answer . We need a Free Europe army to defeat this monster , so i can commiserate with the FSA



ryeatley
02/29/2012 06:39 PM
"his laptop runs on a battery that also, inconveniently, has to heat his home"

That's interesting. Why is a battery used for heating? It'd have to be a very big one - an ordinary car battery of say 48AH would supply an ordinary fan heater for about 20 minutes - not much. On the other hand, it would supply a portable computer for about half a day. Surely some mistake!


________________

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

WORLD_ WRAPUP 1-Syria civilian death toll "well over 7,500"-UN

WRAPUP 1-Syria civilian death toll "well over 7,500"-UN

REUTERS

Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:34pm EST

* Syrian forces kill 25 in bombardments - activists
* UN official says Syria toll exceeds 7,500
* France says Security Council working on new resolution

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis

AMMAN, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad can be classified as a war criminal, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said as the United Nations announced more than 7,500 civilians had been killed by his forces since the start of the revolt.

At least 25 people were killed in the shelling of opposition strongholds by Syrian forces on Tuesday, activists said. In Homs alone, opposition groups said hundreds of civilians had been killed or wounded in the 24-day-old assault.

"There would be an argument to be made that he would fit into that category," Clinton told a Senate committee hearing on Tuesday. She added however that using such labels "limits options to persuade leaders to step down from power".

As world dismay grew over the bloodshed, France said the Security Council was working on a Syria resolution and urged Russia and China not to veto it, as they have previous drafts.

In the besieged district of Baba Amro and other parts of Homs, terrified residents were enduring dire conditions, without proper supplies of water, food and medicine, activists said.

A wounded British photographer managed to escape from Homs but the fate of French reporter Edith Bouvier was not clear.

"There are credible reports that the death toll now often exceeds 100 civilians a day, including many women and children," U.N. Under-Secretary-General for political affairs Lynn Pascoe told the U.N. Security Council. "The total killed so far is certainly well over 7,500 people."

Syria's government said in December that "armed terrorist groups" had killed more than 2,000 soldiers and police.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe had said on Monday it was time to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court and warned Assad that he would face justice.


He told the French parliament work had begun at the Security Council on a new resolution. "I solemnly call on Russia and China not to block this Security Council resolution," he said.

Russia and China vetoed a draft resolution on Feb. 4 that would have backed an Arab League call for Assad to step down.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said he had discussed the situation with former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, now the U.N.-Arab League envoy on Syria, saying he hoped Annan would "bring his persuasive powers to bear on Russia and China".

Syria's U.N. ambassador in Geneva, Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui, stormed out of the U.N. Human Rights Council after calling on countries to stop "inciting sectarianism and providing arms" to Syrian rebels.

He said foreign sanctions were preventing Damascus from buying medicines and fuel. The European Union imposed additional punitive measures on Tuesday.


FRENCH JOURNALIST

British photographer Paul Conroy, of London's Sunday Times, was spirited safely out of Homs into Lebanon. "He is in good shape and in good spirits," the newspaper said.

Conroy had been among several foreign journalists trapped in Baba Amro, where Marie Colvin, a veteran war correspondent also with the Sunday Times, and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed in a bombardment on Feb. 22.

Confusion surrounded Bouvier's fate. President Nicolas Sarkozy initially said he had been informed that Bouvier had been evacuated, but later said that had not been confirmed.

The latest bombardment of Baba Amro was the heaviest so far, activists said, adding tanks from an elite armoured division led by Assad's brother Maher had moved into Homs overnight.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 16 people were killed in Homs on Tuesday, a day after 84 were killed in the city, out of an overall death toll of 122 civilians across Syria. The British-based group said 29 security force members had been killed in clashes with rebels on Monday.

In Hama province, security forces bombarded the town of Helfaya, a centre of anti-Assad protests, killing 20 people.

The reports could not be independently confirmed. Syrian authorities tightly restrict media access to the country.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it had delivered food and other aid to Homs and Idlib, but called for a "humanitarian ceasefire" to improve access.

Assad, projecting an aura of normality in a land ravaged by conflict over his right to power, promulgated a new constitution on Tuesday after officials said nearly 90 percent of voters had endorsed it in a referendum two days earlier. Opposition groups and Western leaders seeking his removal denounced it as a sham.

(Additional reporting by Dominic Evans, Erika Solomon and Mariam Karouny in Beirut, Catherine Bremer, Yann Le Guernigou and Leigh Thomas in Paris, Sui-Lee in Beijing, Justyna Pawlak in Brussels, Peter Griffiths in London, Steve Gutterman in Moscow, Adrian Croft in London, Michelle Nichols at the United Nations and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Writing by Alistair Lyon; Editing by Maria Golovnina)



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WORLD_ Syria: Bashar al-Assad could be regarded as a war criminal, says Hillary Clinton

Syria: Bashar al-Assad could be regarded as a war criminal, says Hillary Clinton

The Syrian president Bashar al-Assad could be regarded as a war criminal, Hillary Clinton suggested as the United Nations said 100 people were dying in his country every day.


Hillary Clinton called on Syria to end all fighting Photo: EPA

By Richard Spencer, Middle East Correspondent
7:45PM GMT 28 Feb 2012

22 Comments

Lynn Pascoe, the UN's under secretary general for political affairs, said the total number of dead from the conflict was now "well over" 7,500, with no sign of an end to the violence.

"There are now credible reports that the death toll now often exceeds 100 civilians a day, including many women and children," she said.

France said it was preparing a new resolution to go before the UN security council and called for the Assad regime to face war crime charges.

Meanwhile Tunisia's president, Moncef Marzouki, said that he was ready to offer asylum to the Syrian leader as part of a negotiated solution to the conflict.

Addressing the US Senate, Mrs Clinton, America's secretary of state, said "an argument could be made" for declaring Mr Assad a war criminal, but stopped short of doing so herself.


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"Based on definitions of war criminal and crimes against humanity, there would be an argument to be made that he would fit into that category," she said in Washington.

"But I also think that from long experience that can complicate a resolution of a difficult, complex situation because it limits options to persuade leaders perhaps to step down from power."

In Geneva, the UN's human rights chief said the situation in Syria had deteriorated rapidly in recent weeks and demanded an immediate humanitarian cease-fire.

Navi Pillay said her office has received reports that Syrian military and security forces had "launched massive campaigns of arrest" and an onslaught against government opponents that had deprived many civilians of food, water and medical supplies.

She called on Syria to end all fighting, allow international monitors to enter the country and give unhindered access to aid agencies.

The continuing bombardment in Homs and demands by Saudi Arabia and Qatar to arm the opposition in recent days have led to an increase in the rhetoric directed against Mr Assad.

However, despite all the words, there is little immediate sign of a change of pace of international action against the regime. France said its new resolution, which followed two previous attempts blocked by Russia and China, would call for a ceasefire and humanitarian aid to be allowed in - areas on which there is some semblance of international agreement.

A resolution weak enough for Russia to accept might well be rejected by the opposition, however. Its various members are calling for a range of interventions from weapons supplies to a full scale air assault on Damascus.

Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, said on Monday he would like to see the Assad regime brought before the International Criminal Court, but again accepted that would be subject to a UN security council vote, implying a Russian veto.

Mrs Clinton's words appear to hint at a so-called "Yemen Solution", under which Mr Assad would hand over power to his vice-president, in return for immunity from prosecution, as happened with President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Again, that would infuriate the opposition, which wants to see him tried, but would be a way of ending the crisis with a lower chance of a descent into full-scale civil war. Again, though, there is no suggestion that this is acceptable to the Assads or would be supported by Russia.

Three Arab states are said to have offered asylum to the Assad family. One is widely rumoured to be the United Arab Emirates. Tunisia's president, who has also called for Mr Assad to be offered immunity in return for quitting, said he would be welcome there in an interview on Tuesday. Whether Mr Assad would feel comfortable in a traditionally pro-Western country that was the first to overthrow its dictator in the "Arab Spring" is open to question, however.

***

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WikiLeaks and What The Truth is .. ( )_ WikiLeaks publishes 'millions' of US intel firm emails

WikiLeaks publishes 'millions' of US intel firm emails

AFP

Updated February 28, 2012, 3:58 am


WikiLeaks began publishing a huge tranche of emails from US intelligence firm Stratfor in a move the anti-secrecy website said revealed the "private lies of private spies".

LONDON (AFP) - WikiLeaks on Monday began publishing a huge tranche of emails from US intelligence firm Stratfor in a move the anti-secrecy website said revealed the "private lies of private spies."

WikiLeaks claims that more than five million emails from the company will uncover "everything from sinister spy tactics to an insider trading scheme with Goldman Sachs" in the coming weeks.

Texas-based Stratfor, which describes itself as a "subscription-based provider of geopolitical analysis," denounced the theft of the emails as "a deplorable, unfortunate -- and illegal -- breach of privacy."

The first batch released Monday suggests that Dow Chemical, the parent company of the firm responsible for the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, paid Stratfor to monitor campaigners for victims of the disaster, WikiLeaks claims.

The whistleblowing website said emails also indicate that Coca-Cola paid Stratfor to investigate animal rights group Peta.

A "substantial" proportion of Stratfor's funding comes from government agencies including the US Department of Homeland Security, WikiLeaks said, while adding that it could not yet give exact figures.

WikiLeaks is sifting through the emails, dating from July 2004 to December 2011, with 25 media partners including Rolling Stone magazine and Italy's La Repubblica newspaper, while members of the public can also view the messages.

The emails document "the private lives and private lies of private spies," WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said at a press conference in London.

"Over the last ten years the private intelligence industry has boomed in the United States and other countries.

"But with this growth there has not been a commensurate growth in accountability mechanisms," added Assange, who is currently fighting extradition from Britain to Sweden over sexual assault allegations.

Stratfor, founded in 1996, slammed the publication of the emails but said it would not comment on their content.

"Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimised twice by submitting to questioning about them," the company said in a statement.

"The emails are private property. Like all private emails, they were written casually, with no expectation anyone other than the sender and recipient would ever see them. They should be read as such," it said.

"Stratfor will not be silenced and will continue to publish the geopolitical analysis our friends and subscribers have come to rely upon."

Assange said the emails contained evidence that Stratfor analysts had monitored WikiLeaks itself, and he promised that details would be revealed in the next few days.

The emails are widely believed to have been passed to WikiLeaks by hacker group Anonymous, which claimed in December that it had stolen them.

But Assange refused to specify how his website had come to possess the messages, saying: "As a matter of policy we don't discuss sourcing or speculate on sources."

"WikiLeaks, in its sourcing methodology, deliberately tries to not even know itself where its information comes from, because ultimately that is the strongest protection."

The white-haired former hacker criticised Statfor's own protection of informants, describing the firm's analysts as "people playing James Bond in the most absurd manner, and in many cases the most ineffective, hopeless manner."

WikiLeaks itself came under fire last September for potentially endangering the lives of government informants by publishing an unredacted version of its archive of 251,000 secret US diplomatic cables.

Assange is awaiting a judgment from the Supreme Court in London on whether he can be extradited to Sweden for questioning over allegations of rape and sexual assault, which he denies.

WikiLeaks has long expressed concern that if Assange is extradited to Sweden, he could eventually be sent on to the United States where he could face prosecution for publishing the diplomatic cables.



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WikiLeaks and What The Truth is .. ( )_ Bribes hold back Chinese in Australia mining: WikiLeaks

Bribes hold back Chinese in Australia mining: WikiLeaks

AFP

February 28, 2012, 8:48 am


Chinese mining interests in Australia are being held back because they believe they must pay bribes to get what they want, according to a former senator quoted in emails released by WikiLeaks.



SYDNEY (AFP) - Chinese mining interests in Australia are being held back because they believe they must pay bribes to get what they want, according to a former senator quoted in emails released by WikiLeaks.

The private email is one of a huge number from the US-based global intelligence company Stratfor that the whistleblowing organisation began publishing Monday.

The assessment, titled "Insight -- China/mining", said that Chinese firms were unable to overcome a corruption mindset when doing business Down Under.

"Where foreign companies do get access to tenements, they always seem to lose out because the mining sector in China is one of the most corrupt sectors of all," the unnamed former senator reportedly said.

The email is dated mid-2010, just months after Australian mining executive Stern Hu was jailed for 10 years in China after a Shanghai court convicted him of taking kickbacks worth millions of dollars from Chinese steel firms and stealing corporate secrets during 2009 iron ore talks.

The incident damaged ties with Beijing, Australia's biggest trading partner and a major investor in its vital resources sector.

In the email, the senator said corruption was widespread in China.

"Ironically, this corruption is one of the impediments to Chinese interests not having accumulated even greater stakes in the resources sector in Australia," he reportedly said.

"They simply cannot get it in their heads that the rule of law applies to mining projects in Australia.

"They refuse to believe that they have a right to receive a mining lease subject only to complying with relevant environmental permitting conditions.

"They think you have no credibility unless you tell them they need to bribe someone!!!"

The email did not name the former senator but said he was "well-connected politically, militarily and economically" and now worked in private industry helping foreign companies with mergers and acquisitions.

WikiLeaks on Monday began publishing a huge tranche of emails from Stratfor dating from July 2004 to December 2011 in a move the anti-secrecy website said revealed the "private lies of private spies."


Follow thewest.com.au on Twitter



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Ý Kiến- Phê Bình qua bài viết "Assad must pay for Marie Colvin's murder"

Assad must pay for Marie Colvin's murder

By Con Coughlin World Last updated: February 23rd, 2012
256 Comments


Con Coughlin, the Telegraph's executive foreign editor, is a world-renowned expert on the Middle East and Islamic terrorism. He is the author of several critically acclaimed books. His new book, Khomeini's Ghost, is published by Macmillan.


Marie Colvin, The Sunday Times's war correspondent who has been killed in Syria

Let's not beat about the bush. Marie Colvin and French journalist Remi Ochlik were murdered by the thugs trying to keep President Bashar al-Assad's regime in power.

It was no secret that the house in Homs where the two journalists were staying was being used as a makeshift media centre, and Marie, with her distinctive eye patch, was easily identifiable, particularly after she had done a series of interviews for American and British broadcasters the previous night.

But the Syrian regime is not used to criticism. When I lived in Beirut in the 1980s journalists who wrote disobliging articles about the regime of Bashar's father, Hafez al-Assad, were punished by having acid poured into their eyes, or having their hands cut off. There's Syrian justice for you.

So I have no trouble in believing our report in today's Daily Telegraph that the journalists were deliberately targeted after Syrian forces besieging Homs received orders from Damascus to silence them once and for all. It seems that, at the time she died, Marie and Remi were preparing to flee the building, having realised that the Syrians were about to attack. But they were killed instantly when they suffered a direct hit from a missile fired by pro-Assad forces.

The assault on the compound was, of course, a direct contravention of the Geneva Conventions, and the Syrian regime should be made to pay the consequences of its actions. There has been much talk recently of finding a safe haven for Assad and his cronies so that the bloodshed can be brought to a halt. Might I suggest the dock at the International Criminal Court in the Hague?
Tags: Assad, Marie Colvin, Syria

***

Showing 1-25 of 261 comments


jolomo

02/26/2012 12:36 PM
While I feel sympathy for Colvin & her friends & family she was aware that she was reporting from a very dangerous place. I am sure if she had enough of being a war reporter & had asked to be a white house reporter or similar there would have been no problem.
However, this is not what she wanted, she wanted to be where the action - Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. So dying in what is pretty much a warzone - hardly a surprise.

Yes, the media are now pushing for more intervention but unless the Arab states take the lead no Western government will do anything as all are scared to be seen as the big bad bully.




limerick
02/26/2012 04:09 AM
All good stuff Con. No surprises from you, as usual.

"So I have no trouble in believing". - Con and his invisible "source"
Khomeini.

Everyone knows exactly that which you believe Con, just as well the rest of us prefer the truth.

I can't remember, what was your reaction to the death of James Miller in 2003?

"British television
journalist James Miller died after being shot by Israeli troops in the
southern town of Rafah in the Gaza Strip'.

I assume you were calling for Ariel Sharon to be placed in the dock at the ICC.
You weren't? Can't imagine why not, can you Con?

(Wake him up and send him now.)


Lithlad
02/25/2012 09:26 PM
After 9/11 and the murder of nearly 3000 people, two nations - Iraq and Afghanistan - were changed forever. Yet, in Syria, nearly 3 times as many civilians are dying at the hands of Assad, and all the West does is cluck its tongue. And now, after the death of one journalist who, let's be honest, accepted the risks, only now are the chattering classes expressing their outrage and demanding action. Are they seriously suggesting that there be a NATO-led war in Syria because of the death of one admittedly liked and respected journalist?I can hear Marie Colvin spinning in her grave



griff1602/24/2012 06:42 PM
The civilised countries of the world should come a consensus to end the killing of unarmed people in Syria , whether they are citizens or media people.

But I have trouble with the sanctimonious out cry for this female journalist who died in a very dangerous place reporting stories and being paid for it , it came with the job. I also have trouble at the moment with the media trying to obtain sympathy from the public when they have been lying , bunging bribes, hacking , stalking all in the name of the freedom of free speech.

I think that when they have shown that they can act in a responsible manner .ie. playing the game then they can start asking for support from the public.

Back to Syria this is just the start for what is going to happen in Iran and there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth .



David Sketchley
02/24/2012 09:47 AM
Should read: "Con Coughlin, the Telegraph's executive foreign editor, is a world-renowned propaganda conduit for the US/UK intelligence services."

Can't seem to find Coughlin's similar declarations about the deaths of British journalists or journalists working for British media organsations at the hands of the US in Iraq such as Terry Lloyd (ITN), Taras Protsyuk (Reuters), Mazen Dana (Reuters).

And I can't seem to find similar condemnations from Coughlin about US direct attacks on media compounds in Serbia, Al Jazeerah in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the cowardly US attack on the Hotel Palestine in Baghdad which killed a Spanish camerman and a Reuters cameraman. All this after Kate Adie had warned that any journalist not embedded with troops was a target.

Surely not, surely Con Coughlin is not a blatant hypocrite, demagogue and propagandist? I'm afraid the evidence is conclusive. Yes he is. In fact his support for wars of aggression puts him firmly in the realm of the likes of Julius Streicher...


russian
02/24/2012 07:57 AM
Send Con over there with a tin hat and a rifle to help the Al Quaedans


blackarrow
02/24/2012 01:47 AM
Another justification for the charge of hypocrisy in the outrage about Marie Colvin's death is our deliberate targeting of the TV station in Serbia, during our war crime - Appendix B of the Rambouillet Treaty - Kosovo war, claiming its broadcasts made it a legitimate military target.

How quickly we forget.


______ blackarrow
02/24/2012 11:28 AM
16 journalists and/or employees were killed in our premeditated attack on that civilian Serb TV station:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N...

But *we* did it, so it was OK.

And note my disgust a couple pages below (shared by 17 others so far) about the absolute hypocritical silence, by contrast, of British journalists about Britain's "high court" denying a genuine, under-oath coroner's inquest into Dr. David Kelly's highly questionable death - i.e., going along with the coverup.

The West is rotting through.

Lou Coatney, www.coatneyhistory.com



sebastian2
02/24/2012 12:48 AM
Yes. A dock at the International Criminal Court would fit Assad better than his bespoke suits and there are many itching to see him garbed accordingly: except for the Chinese and Russians who, for their own secretive and nefarious reasons, seem to find mass-murder so much more convenient. What secrets does Assad have, then, that he must stay in place even to massacre his own people with impunity?
That said, let's not kid ourselves into thinking that Assad's removal would bring "peace" to that divided territory. There, the Sunni-Shi'ia ancient rift, even with Assad gone, would find fresh expression as it does in Iraq. The conflicts, the deaths and the costs wouldn't end there.
So where does this take us? Assad used the Demon of repression and totalitarian control to bottle up the Djinni of violent, bloody rivalry. Now that Djinni is out.
Other than providing humanitarian aid (which should come first from their mohammedan "brothers" actually but probably won't) we should stand back and let them destroy each other with their usual gusto. Better that, than going in so they can combine to destroy us.
Either way, Russian and Chinese hands have much proxy blood on them. Not, of course, that they will care a jot.



troon62
02/23/2012 11:40 PM
An American who had never heard of Marie Colvin or her French counterpart prior to their deaths, I am shocked at the cynicism reflected in so many of the comments. An obviously decent, decidedly brave journalist gave her life in the service of informing people far removed from the realities of war what was actually happening on the ground. It seems clear, too, that there is hard evidence to support the contention that the thugs in Damascus gave direct orders to target the makeshift media centre they occupied. If so, that is murder; just as it is murder for the indiscriminate slaughter of the innocents trapped in Homs. The widely accepted code is that journalists are not to be targeted in any conflict. The miserable cretins that choose to do so deserve damnation, period. I hope that Marie and Remi rest in peace, knowing they performed their jobs with unusual valor.



______ randal
02/24/2012 08:25 AM
"It seems clear, too, that there is hard evidence to support the contention that the thugs in Damascus gave direct orders to target the makeshift media centre they occupied "

If that's your idea of "hard evidence" I've got a bridge to sell you. The allegation that the targeting was deliberate could as easily be black propaganda as truth, and only someone very naive or very biased could believe otherwise.

"The widely accepted code is that journalists are not to be targeted in any conflict. "

Attacking enemy media operations is common practice, albeit something governments like to pretend they don't do.

Americans targeted the Yugoslav TV centre, as well as Al Jazeerah offices in Baghdad and Kabul, and there were a suspiciously large number of deaths of journos in Iraq.

"I am shocked at the cynicism reflected in so many of the comments"

Perhaps that reflects more on your own naivety than the supposed cynicism of the comments in question.

You should try to put yourself in the shoes of an ordinary Syrian who supports the Syrian government's efforts to restore order in the face of armed popular opposition (a significant minority, at least, of the population), and think how you would feel about the coverage of the uprising in the western media. Perhaps you might understand then that your automatic sympathy mostly reflects your own bias.

(Edited by author 4 days ago)


____________ troon62
02/24/2012 11:46 PM
Talk about naivete (try spelling it accurately, Randal)! "Put yourself in the shoes of an ordinary Syrian who supports the Syrian government's efforts to restore oder in the face of armed popular opposition..." What an utter crock! Increasing numbers of Syrians, cowed for more than four decades by the brutality of the totalitarian, murderous Assad dynasty, inspired by the events of the Arab Spring, are finally finding the courage to confront one of the most vile regimes in the world. Pray for them, not for the Syrians who continue to provide support to the butchery of Assad and his thugs. BTW, is the Assad gang withholding taxes from your government paycheck? Jeesh!!



hardtruth01
02/23/2012 11:01 PM
When civilians are killed by NATO bombs targetting "insurgents" and "militants" within cities such "collateral damage" is usually blamed on the "insurgents" for using the city-dwellers as "human shields" .

How does this differ?

If the journalists' hotels was targetted, as the dubious Torygraph propaganda holds, how does this differ from the US targetting the Palestine Hotel in Bagdad, killing Taras Protsyuk and Jose Couso?

Was that "murder by thugs"?



AlexanderDeLarge
02/23/2012 09:03 PM
Con, you are a wind-up merchant
par excellence.



franklyhellish
02/23/2012 09:00 PM
I do not watch TV and I confess I had never heard of this woman until she was killed and the BBC and DT started to exploit her death. It strikes me as grotesque that the monopoly stream media are making so much of just one death among the many. The feminist BBC will milk this for all it can. It seems to happen all too often that the journalist becomes the story, in life and in death, even more so if it involves a female.



Welietoyouandwereproud
02/23/2012 08:52 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A...

Interesting piece.

(Edited by author 4 days ago)



______ Aasvogel
02/23/2012 09:03 PM
...and appropriate!


anthonyorange
02/23/2012 08:45 PM
What exactly does Con mean when he says that Assad must pay for her death? If he means that the war in Syria should end and Assad should be removed then yes, that is what has been said for some time now and we hope it will end if China and Russia can see sense.

But if he means that Assad should be punished coz this woman was in a war zone and was killed then Con has lost his marbles.

Con, Assad should pay for everyones murder.



paulw
02/23/2012 08:28 PM
What an idiotic thing to say.

She wasn't murdered - she was the in the wrong place at the wrong time in a dangerous conflict zone she was warned to evacuate days previously but a warning she chose to ignore.

Such sensationalist reporting of an event this women brought largely upon herself is a total disgrace.



_______ norto
02/23/2012 08:35 PM
Her job was to get at the truth. She knew she would be killed and she died to expose the murdering barbarity of Assad.

She was a true heroine, and should be recognised and thanked for her sacrifice.



____________ AlexanderDeLarge
02/23/2012 08:58 PM
norto
When you wrote this drivel how much alcohol had you consumed ?


____________ Welietoyouandwereproud
02/23/2012 08:54 PM
"Her job was to get at the truth."
Then lie her ass off to the rest of us.



simon21
02/23/2012 08:21 PM
Well Con some of us are not surprised but i recall you beating up up a few days ago telling us that Al Queda etc were dominating the opposition.

And while not thinking that the journalist's death was other than a tragedy a lot of Syrian women and children have also been killed.

Their deaths are a tragedy too.



Aasvogel
02/23/2012 08:12 PM
She said: "Craters. Burned houses. Mutilated bodies. Women weeping for children and husbands. Men for their wives, mothers, children".

"Our mission is to report these horrors of war with accuracy and without prejudice.

"We always have to ask ourselves whether the level of risk is worth the story. What is bravery, and what is bravado?"

"Journalists covering combat shoulder great responsibilities and face difficult choices. Sometimes they pay the ultimate price."

These were her words. A brave woman to the last: she knew the score and deliberately put herself in the firing line. For that, she has my respect.

Interestingly, she did not use the word "murder" to describe the carnage in Syria; rather, she used "combat" and "horrors".

I have no truck with Assad or his policies but to accuse him or his "thugs" of the pre-meditated murder of Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik is pulling a rather long bow, even for a warmonger such as Coughlin.

It would be good if he presented motive and evidence for the claim rather than the usual headline rhetoric. Her eyepatch? Come on, Con; you can do better than that.

She did.

(Edited by author 4 days ago)


blackarrow
02/23/2012 08:25 PM
As disgusted with the hypocrisy of the outrage about her death as I am - see my postings below - it is entirely possible she was targeted as an inciting element, Aasvogel. And Syria is Assad's turf, not anyone else's, unless the UN Security Council passes an unvetoed resolution to the contrary.

Note the Brazilian Patriota's attempt to get the UN Sec Gen to legitimize an attack. That would be irrelevant: it is the UNSC which must decide. If we go in there regardless, it will be the start of World War 3.

Lou Coatney, www.coatneyhistory.com

(Edited by author 4 days ago)


________________

What do you think ?

Các anh chị nghĩ thế nào, có ý kiến- phê bình gì qua bài viết "Assad must pay for Marie Colvin's murder" của Con Coughlin, the Telegraph's executive foreign editor và 25 ý kiến- phê bình từ "261 Comments" của đọc giả ?

Đã hơn 8000 người dân Syria BỊ GIẾT, độc tài Assad vẫn tiếp tục làm trò hề một cách trơ trẽn, hèn hạ, vô sỉ và TÀN BẠO của một con QUỶ, mai mỉa thay "con QUỶ" đó đã được "giáo dục", "huấn luyện", "đào tạo" và không chừng đã từng "được nuôi dưỡng", "dung túng" bởi những kẻ luôn "ca ngợi TỰ DO, DÂN CHỦ, NHÂN QUYỀN" !



Những người dân VN BỊ MẤT NƯỚC vào tay bè lũ phản quốc CƯỚP NƯỚC DIỆT CHỦNG BÁN NƯỚC Việt gian cộng sản VN, học thêm bài học gì nữa qua tình hình Syria kể từ Cách Mạng LẬT ĐỔ bè lũ cầm quyền độc tài tại Bắc Phi và Trung Đông đã và đang BÙNG CHÁY và lan rộng trên toàn thế giới ?

Người dân Syria vẫn còn đang tiếp tục BỊ GIẾT, bị TÀN SÁT nhưng họ đã và đang là NHỮNG CON NGƯỜI ĐÚNG NGHĨA, họ đã không thể tiếp tục cúi đầu làm nô lệ, tiếp tục làm những con vật dưới sự cầm quyền của độc tài Assad, họ đã ĐỨNG LÊN CHỐNG LẠI BẠO LỰC ĐỘC TÀI đã chà đạp họ, họ XỨNG ĐÁNG là những CON NGƯỜI.

Còn nữa, thật đáng phỉ nhổ, khinh bỉ cho những kẻ tự nguyện làm tay sai cho loài QUỶ dữ như độc tài Assad, đã không biết nhục nhã, xấu hổ khi tự nguyện trở thành những con vật phục vụ cho con quỷ Assad duy trì quyền lực để GIẾT NGƯỜI .

Assad đã làm TỘI ÁC thì sẽ phải ĐỀN TỘI với dân Syria.

Bản chất của những tên cầm quyền độc tài đều KHÁT MÁU như nhau .
Ngày tàn của những tên bạo chúa, những tên độc tài khát máu này đều ô nhục như nhau .

Còn nữa, bè lũ phản quốc CƯỚP NƯỚC DIỆT CHỦNG BÁN NƯỚC Việt gian cộng sản VN cũng không ngoại lệ .


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conbenho
Tiểu Muội quantu
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___________
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Bao che, dung dưỡng TỘI ÁC là đồng lõa với TỘI ÁC

Monday, February 27, 2012

WORLD_ 'Sham' Syrian constitution vote wins 89.4 per cent approval

'Sham' Syrian constitution vote wins 89.4 per cent approval

Over 89 per cent of Syrians approved a new constitution, proposed by President Bashar al-Assad, in a referendum on Sunday, state television said on Monday.


Voting in Syria Photo: AFP

By Bruno Waterfield, Brussels and agencies
2:33PM GMT 27 Feb 2012

The new constitution that could keep Mr Assad in power until 2028 was condemned by world leaders as a "sham".

"The referendum in Syria is nothing more than a farce," said Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister. "Sham votes cannot be a contribution to a resolution of the crisis. Assad must finally end the violence and clear the way for a political transition."

Turnout in the referendum was 57.4 percent, state television said.

The European Union earlier on Monday agreed new sanctions against Syria, including a freeze on assets of the country’s central bank, but has pulled back from targeting crucial Syrian mineral exports and commercial flights.

A meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday agreed other new “restrictive measures” including a ban on cargo flight into the EU, the blacklisting of seven people close to Mr Assad and restrictions on trade in gold and precious metals.


Related Articles

_ Assad secures 90pc in vote as death toll passes 8,000 - 27 Feb 2012
_ Syria: European Union agrees financial sanctions - 27 Feb 2012
_ Syria goes to the polls - 27 Feb 2012
_ Syria: China calls US criticism 'unacceptable' - 27 Feb 2012
_ As Syria votes, death toll mounts - 26 Feb 2012
_ Hamas risks Damascus base to support Syrian opposition - 26 Feb 2012


The move came as France's president Nicolas Sarkozy says that plans to evacuate two wounded foreign journalists from a besieged Syrian town are beginning to take shape.

Mr Sarkozy told French radio RTL on Monday that "we have the beginning of a solution" to evacuate Paul Conroy and Edith Bouvier, the British and French journalists trapped in Baba Amr neighborhood of the Syrian city of Homs.

The ban on Syrian cargo flights to the EU, has a loophole, if aircraft are carrying any passengers they will be given the all clear.

Britain and other countries had also urged a ban on phosphate imports from Syria, the country’s sixth largest exports industry with 40 per cent of trade accounted for by the EU.

But Greece which is one of the main buyers of Syrian phosphates in Europe, opposed the ban because it is facing a major slump and debt crisis.

Other countries, doing extensive business with Syria, argued against full sanctions against the Syrian central bank, fearing that the measures would halt all trade.

A proposal to ban commercial flights between Europe and Syria was dropped as it would complicate efforts to evacuate European citizens, such as the journalists caught up in Homs fighting.

The EU has already imposed oil and arms embargoes against Syria in response to a government suppression of dissent that has left more than 7,600 people dead, according to rights groups, since anti-regime protests erupted in March.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, called for more sanctions against Syria in the wake of continuing “appalling” violence.

The lack of a UN Security Council declaration has weakened international diplomatic efforts to end the violence, and Mr Hague warned Russia and China’s veto was seen as wrong “in the eyes of the world”.

He said new efforts to get a UN resolution would be taken up once morein New York later this week.

EU foreign ministers will also endorse Friday's Tunis statement calling on the Syrian leader to step down and urging the setting up of a UN peacekeeping force.

Mr Hague dismissed Sunday's Syrian "referendum" as of no relevance to international efforts to impose a "diplomatic and economic stranglehold on the Assad regime" to "choke off support for its campaign of terror".

But the Foreign Secretary is against arming the Syrian opposition.

On Monday, he welcomed the Arab League's support and its readiness to join peacekeeping efforts, but pointed out: "For that to work, there has to be a peace to keep."

The trapped journalists, Conroy and Bouvier were wounded in a government attack on a makeshift media centre on Wednesday.

Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed in the same attack.

Mr Sarkozy said "it seems that things are starting to get unblocked" after days of failed attempts to evacuate the wounded reporters and the bodies of the dead. He did not provide details.



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conbenho
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WORLD_ William Hague: 'No one is fooled by Syria referendum'

William Hague: 'No one is fooled by Syria referendum'

The Foreign Secretary says the Syrian regime has continued to fire on civilians as it opened the polling booths for a referendum on constitutional change.

The Telegraph
11:24AM GMT 27 Feb 2012

The new constitution will ostensibly entrench multi-party rule, pave the way for parliamentary elections within three months and limit a president to two seven-year terms, a statute that will only come into force when Mr Assad, in power since 2000, completes his present stint in 2014.

Syria's main opposition movements boycotted the poll, pointing out that Mr Assad has shown little willingness to abide by the present constitution, which supposedly enshrines free speech and bans torture.

Mr Hague said: “Yesterday's referendum vote has fooled nobody. To open polling stations but to continue to open fire on the civilians of the country has no credibility in the eyes of the world.”

The Foreign Secretary confirmed that Britain would continue to support the Syrian opposition through peaceful means and played down suggestions from the Arab League about a potential peace keeping force being deployed on the ground in Syria.

“For that to work properly there would have to be a peace to keep. At the moment we don't have that. We need the cessation of violence by the regime against civilians for anything like that to work.”

Related Articles

_ Syria goes to the polls - 27 Feb 2012
_ Syria: European Union agrees financial sanctions - 27 Feb 2012
_ Red Crescent starts Homs evacuation - 25 Feb 2012
_ Syria: Red Cross begins Homs evacuations - 24 Feb 2012
_ Hillary Clinton urges Assad allies to stop arming Syria - 24 Feb 2012
_ Obama: keep the pressure on Syria - 25 Feb 2012


_________________

WHAT DO YOU THINK ?


Protesters burn and image of the Syrian leader, President Bashar al-Assad. Photo: AFP


Women sat under images of the Syrian president outside a polling station in Damascus

And




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WORLD_ Homs under fire, Syria awaits referendum result

Homs under fire, Syria awaits referendum result


1 of 9. Syrians soldiers vote during a referendum on a new constitution at an undisclosed location in this handout photograph taken on February 26, 2012 and released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
Credit: Reuters/SANA


By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
AMMAN | Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:32am GMT

AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian artillery pummelled rebel-held areas of Homs on Monday before an expected government announcement that a vote - decried as a sham by the opposition and the West - has approved a new constitution proposed by President Bashar al-Assad.


Shells and rockets crashed into Sunni Muslim districts of Homs that have already endured weeks of bombardment as Assad's forces, led by officers from his minority Alawite sect, try to stamp out an almost year-long revolt against his 11-year rule.

"Intense shelling started on Khalidiya, Ashira, Bayada, Baba Amro and the old city at dawn," opposition activist Mohammed al-Homsi told Reuters from the city on the Damascus-Aleppo highway.

"The army is firing from the main thoroughfares deep into alleyways and side streets. Initial reports indicate at least two people killed in the souk (market) area," he said.

At least 59 civilians and soldiers were killed on Sunday in a violent backdrop to a referendum on a constitution that offers some reforms, but could keep Assad in power until 2028.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which has said conditions in parts of Homs are worsening by the hour, has failed to secure a pause in the fighting to allow the wounded to be evacuated and desperately needed aid to be delivered.

The outside world has proved powerless to halt the carnage in Syria, where repression of initially peaceful protests has spawned an armed insurrection by army deserters and others.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin again warned the West against military intervention in Syria, Moscow's longtime ally, but U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear there was no enthusiasm in Washington for war. Russia and China have blocked action against Syria by the U.N. Security Council.

The Syrian government, which is also backed by Iran, says it is fighting foreign-backed "armed terrorist groups."

While the West dismisses talk of a Libya-style NATO role to support Assad's opponents, Gulf Arab states have pushed for a more forceful stance. Saudi Arabia said on Friday it would back the idea of arming rebels - a proposal likely to alarm Moscow.

"I very much hope the United States and other countries ... do not try to set a military scenario in motion in Syria without sanction from the U.N. Security Council," Putin said.

Clinton told BBC television there was "every possibility" of civil war in Syria. "Outside intervention would not prevent that, it would probably expedite it," she said.

"We have a very dangerous set of actors in the region: al Qaeda, Hamas and those who are on our terrorist list claiming to support the opposition. You have many Syrians more worried about what could come next."

The Syrian government was due to announce the result of the vote on the constitution, which would drop an article making Assad's Baath party the leader of state and society, allow political pluralism and enact a presidential limit of two seven-year terms. A parliamentary poll would be held in three months.

But the presidential term limit is not retrospective, implying that Assad, 46, already in power since 2000, could serve two further terms after his current one expires in 2014.

Diplomats who toured dozens of polling stations in Damascus reported seeing only a handful of voters at each location.

It was Syria's third referendum since Assad inherited office from his late father. The first installed him as president in 2000 with an official 97.29 percent 'Yes' vote. The second renewed his term seven years later with 97.62 percent in favour.

Syrian Prime Minister Adel Safar, asked about the opposition call for a boycott of the vote, said it showed a lack of interest in dialogue. "There are some groups that have a Western and foreign agenda and do not want reforms in Syria and want to divert Syria's steadfastness," he told reporters.

Prominent members of the Syrian National Council formed a splinter group on Sunday, exposing the gravest rift among Assad's foes since the uprising began in March.

At least 20 secular and Islamist members of the 270-strong council, which was set up in Istanbul last year, announced the formation of the Syrian Patriotic Group.

(Additional reporting by Dominic Evans in Beirut; Writing by Alistair Lyon, editing by Tim Pearce)


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Sunday, February 26, 2012

WORLD_ As Bashar al-Assad votes, Syria's people continue to die in their homes

As Bashar al-Assad votes, Syria's people continue to die in their homes

Syrians still loyal to Bashar al-Assad voted in an internationally-derided referendum on a new constitution that could keep their president in power until 2028, even as activists reported the deaths of a further 34 people.


Image 1 of 2
Syrian anti-regime demonstrators burning tyres to protest against the referendum Photo: AFP/GETTY/YOUTUBE


By Adrian Blomfield, Middle East Correspondent
9:18PM GMT 26 Feb 2012

Determined to project an air of normality, the president shrugged off the 11-month uprising against his rule, one which is estimated to have cost 7,500 lives, as largely a fabrication by the international press.

He appeared with his wife British-born wife Asma, both impeccably dressed, smiling and waving to cheering Syrian reporters to cast their ballots at the headquarters of state television and radio in Damascus, one of the country's few safe areas.

But elsewhere violence raged, with rebels and government forces clashing in the southern province of Deraa, in Idlib in the north and in Deir el-Zour in the east.

At least nine civilians were killed in Homs, the city that for the past 23 days has been subjected to the most ferocious artillery assault of the uprising. Four government soldiers were also killed, according to Syrian human rights activists.

The International Committee for Red Cross said it was still negotiating with both the government and Free Syrian Army rebels in the Baba Amr enclave to attempt an evacuation of wounded and vulnerable civilians.


Related Articles

_ Hamas risks Damascus base to support Syrian opposition - 26 Feb 2012
_ Syria: citizens from across country risk life to help Homs - 26 Feb 2012
_ Syria: get him out of there, says wife of trapped photographer - 26 Feb 2012
_ Syria: Assad votes in 'sham' referendum - 26 Feb 2012


Among those trapped in the district are Paul Conroy, the Sunday Times photographer wounded in the same attack that killed Marie Colvin, the Sunday Times war correspondent, and Remi Ochlik, the French photographer, last week.

Fresh details of Colvin's death emerged yesterday, with the Sunday Times reporting that she was killed as she tried to retrieve her shoes so she could flee the bombardment of a building housing the reporters.

Following Arab custom, the reporters had left their shoes at the entrance of the building. When the first of a series of shells hit the buildings upper floors, Colvin ran to where she had left hers but as she reached them a rocket landed at the front of the building, just a few yards from her. The blast killed Ochlik and her instantly.

With people in some parts of Homs cowering from both shells and sniper fire, there was little enthusiasm for Mr Assad's referendum.

"What should we be voting for, whether to die by bombardment or by bullets? This is the only choice we have," said Waleed Fares, an activist in the Khalidiyah district of the city.

The new constitution will ostensibly entrench multi-party rule, pave the way for parliamentary elections within three months and limit a president to two seven-year terms, a statute that will only come into force when Mr Assad, in power since 2000, completes his present stint in 2014.

Syria's main opposition movements boycotted the poll, pointing out that Mr Assad has shown little willingness to abide by the present constitution, which supposedly enshrines free speech and bans torture.

Western politicians described the exercise as "laughable" and again demanded that Mr Assad step down.

"The referendum in Syria is nothing more than a farce," said Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister. "Sham votes cannot be a contribution to a resolution of the crisis. Assad must finally end the violence and clear the way for a political transition."

But the West's leverage remains limited. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, again ruled out the prospect of western military intervention, conceding for the first time that it could play into the hands of Islamic extremists.

"We have a very dangerous set of actors in the region - al Qaeda, Hamas, and those who are on our terrorist list, claiming to support the opposition," she said, adding that Western action was also hampered by the lack of UN Security Council approval.



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Saturday, February 25, 2012

WORLD_ Bloodbath on eve of Syria's referendum

Bloodbath on eve of Syria's referendum
February 26, 2012 - 2:15PM.
SMH


Protesters burn and image of the Syrian leader, President Bashar al-Assad. Photo: AFP

Syrian government forces have reportedly killed at least 83 people in a sustained clampdown on rebel areas on the eve of a referendum across the country on a new constitution.

The surge in violence came on Saturday as the Syrian government was preparing to hold a vote called by President Bashar al-Assad for Sunday on a new constitution.

Witnesses in the Damascus told DPA that women in white T-shirts were stopping cars and handing out leaflets reading: "Your vote is essential for Syria's sovereignty".


The proposed constitution promises to establish political pluralism, ending decades of monopoly by the ruling Baath Party.

According to the Interior Ministry, 14,000 polling stations have been set up across Syria for an estimated 14.6 million eligible voters.

The opposition called on Syrians to boycott the referendum, calling it "a mockery".

At least 30 people were killed in the restive districts of Baba Amr, al-Khalidiyeh and Karem al-Zeitoun in the central province of Homs, where government troops continued shelling attacks for the fourth successive week, Omar Homsi, a Syrian activist in the area, told DPA.

The death toll in the central province of Hama rose to 40 by nightfall, due to shelling by government forces on the villages of Maarazaf and al-Majdel, opposition activists told dpa.

Earlier, security forces shot dead six people in clashes with army defectors in the area of Ezaz in the province of Aleppo, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Seven others were killed on Saturday in Aleppo when security forces fired on mourners in a funeral procession, the opposition Local Co-ordination reported. The funeral was for a man killed by police Friday in an anti-government mass protest.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Red Crescent failed on Saturday to evacuate more wounded civilians from the besieged area of Baba Amr.

ICRC spokesman Hisham Hassan said negotiations with the Syrian authorities and the opposition "gave no concrete results".

Earlier, the ICRC's Damascus spokesman Saleh Dabbikeh told dpa: "We are exerting every effort ... to evacuate those in need of immediate assistance including two Western journalists."

"We managed on Friday to evacuate seven injured people and took them to the private al-Amin Hospital in Homs. We also evacuated 20 sick women and children, who needed hospital care," he said.

The wounded journalists are French national Edith Bouvier of Le Figaro and British photographer Paul Conroy of The Sunday Times, who were wounded in the shelling earlier this week on Baba Amr.

The bodies of American Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik, who were killed in the same attack, are still in the restive area of Baba Amr.

DPA maur

26-02-12 1115

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/bloodbath-on-eve-of-syrias-referendum-20120226-1tw6f.html#ixzz1nT4JFGwk



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OBSERVER_ Syria: more killed in shelling of Homs as bid to evacuate journalists fails

Syria: more killed in shelling of Homs as bid to evacuate journalists fails

Residents of besieged suburb of Baba Amr say they feel abandoned after failure of 'Friends of Syria' peace conference

Tracy McVeigh
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 25 February 2012 22.44 GMT
Article history


A boy in the city of Homs holds the remains of a mortar, following shelling of the city. Photograph: Reuters

The Syrian military took its bombardment of the Baba Amr district of Homs into a fourth week on Saturday as the Red Cross tried to evacuate more traumatised civilians.

At least 28 people were killed , nine of them in Homs, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Thousands are trapped in the Baba Amr suburb.

Deploring the outcome of the international "Friends of Syria" conference in Tunisia on Friday, opposition activists and civilians in Homs said that they felt forgotten. People talked of how the world had abandoned them to be killed by the soldiers and rockets of President Bashar al-Assad.

After its ambulances had been allowed to leave the city with 27 people on Friday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that it had resumed negotiations with both sides to enable more civilians to be brought out. There was still no sign of progress on the evacuation of the western journalists injured in the rocket attack that killed reporter Marie Colvin, 56, and the French photographer Rémi Ochlik, 28, on Wednesday.

The Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy, who has shrapnel wounds in his legs, and the French reporter Edith Bouvier, who has a broken leg, remain in Homs, as do two other western journalists, Javier Espinoza, from the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, and a French freelance reporter, William Daniels, who are unhurt. Efforts are continuing to get them out, along with the bodies of their colleagues. The Sunday Times today revealed that Colvin died trying to retrieve her shoes so she could escape the bombardment. The journalists had followed the Middle Eastern custom of taking off their shoes when they went into a building housing a rebel press centre, and tried to recover them as rockets fell.

Colvin was on the ground floor when missiles hit the upper floors. The journalists were covered in dust but unhurt. They prepared to flee but had to get their shoes first. Colvin ran to the hall, where she had left hers, but when she got there a rocket landed at the front of the building, a few yards away. The blast killed her and Ochlik.

The newspaper said hopes had faded for the rescue of Conroy and Bouvier, who both urgently need medical treatment, and the others.

Reports said the evacuation had run into trouble because of distrust between the two sides during a ceasefire.

Conroy was reported to be refusing to leave without Colvin's body despite being in danger of potentially life-threatening infection if his wounds were not treated.

People in Homs – a city of more than 800,000 at the crossroads of highways from Damascus to Aleppo and from the coast to the interior – are suspicious of evacuations, carried out by the ICRC's local partner, the Syrian Red Crescent.

A UK-based activist, Abdul Omar, told the BBC that people did not want to get into the ambulances. "We know that the Syrian regime has in the past used Red Crescent ambulances to pretend that they are rescue operations but they have ended up arresting individuals, arresting civilians and taking them to prison," he said.

But the ICRC denied there was anything but a mercy mission under way with the Red Crescent vehicles, and said that there was no difference between the two groups. "Their volunteers are risking their lives on a daily basis to help everyone with no exceptions," ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan said in Geneva.

The Tunis conference of western, Arab and other countries was intended to increase diplomatic pressure on Assad to end an 11-month crackdown on opponents of his rule.

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said Assad would be held to account for the bloodshed and sharply criticised Russia and China, which have blocked UN measures against Syria.

But to beleaguered Syrians the speeches seemed remote. "The people resent what happened in Tunis," said a doctor in the restive town of Zabadani. "We need them to arm the revolution. I don't understand what they are waiting for. Do they need to see half the people of Syria finished off first?"

Diplomacy is hamstrung because Russia and China oppose action by the UN security council, and there is little appetite for military intervention – although Saudi Arabia has suggested it might arm the rebels, a move that prompted an angry reaction from Damascus, which accused the Saudis of being "partners" in the bloodshed in Syria.

Despite international condemnation of his rule, Assad is due to stage a referendum today on a new constitution that he says will lead to a multiparty parliamentary election within three months. The opposition has called for a boycott of the vote, deriding his reform pledges and demanding again that he step down. Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, also questioned how the vote could take place.

"On one hand you say you are holding a referendum and on the other you are attacking with tank fire on civilian areas. You still think the people will go to a referendum the next day ?" he asked.

______________

WHAT DO YOU THINK ?




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WORLD_ As violence rages, Syria holds referendum

As violence rages, Syria holds referendum


1 of 16. A boy holds the remain of a mortar in this handout picture taken by Syrian National Council (SNC) member Moulhem Al-Jundi in Karm Al Zaytoon, a neighbourhood of Homs, February 23, 2012. Picture taken February 23, 2012.
Credit: Reuters/Moulhem Al-Jundi/Handout


By Erika Solomon
BEIRUT | Sat Feb 25, 2012 10:38pm GMT

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria holds a referendum on Sunday on a new constitution, dismissed by the opposition as a charade amid an intensifying crackdown on the 11-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.

Forces loyal to Assad took the bombardment of rebel-held areas in Homs into a fourth week. Activists say hundreds of people have died in the violence in the central city.

"No one is going to vote. This was a constitution made to Bashar's tastes and meanwhile we are getting shelled and killed," said activist Omar, speaking by Skype from the rebel-held Baba Amro district of Homs.

"More than 40 people were killed today and you want us to vote in a referendum? ... No one is going to vote."

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was still unable to evacuate distressed civilians from embattled Baba Amro. After a day of talks with Syrian authorities and opposition fighters, it said there were "no concrete results."

"We continue our negotiations, hoping that tomorrow (Sunday) we will able to enter Baba Amro to carry out our life-saving operations," said spokesman Hisham Hassan.

Conditions were nightmarish for some of those trapped by the fighting.

"We have hundreds of wounded people crammed into houses. People die from blood loss. We just aren't capable of treating everyone," said activist Nader Husseini via Skype.

ELECTIONS PROMISED

Assad has vowed to hold parliamentary elections within 90 days if the referendum approves the new constitution.

The new document would drop an article that makes Assad's Baath party the leader of state and society, allow for political pluralism and enact a presidential limit of two seven-year terms.

Activists leading the revolt against four decades of Assad family rule have called for a boycott of the referendum. In Damascus and suburbs where troops drove out insurgents last month, activists say they will try to hold protests near polling centres and burn copies of the new constitution.

State television showed video of officials stacking boxes of referendum ballots and preparing voting centres, and citizens interviewed said they planned to vote yes in the national interest.

Across the country, at least 72 people were killed in the conflict on Saturday, 24 of them in Homs, opposition groups said.

Four Western journalists, two of whom were wounded in a bombardment by government forces that killed two other foreign journalists on Wednesday, have yet to be extracted from shattered Baba Amro. It was unclear if they were specifically discussed in the ICRC talks.

The ICRC said its local partner, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, had been able to carry out two evacuations in areas of Homs other than Baba Amro on Saturday.

RED CRESCENT "DISTRUSTED"

But Husseini said people in Baba Amro were suspicious of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and did not want to work with a group "under the control of the regime."

The ICRC said the Red Crescent was independent and its members were risking their lives to help those in need.

Sources close to the ICRC negotiations said talks on Saturday failed due to confusion amid heavy shelling and bad communications with fighters and state forces.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu questioned how the vote could take place in the midst of such violence.

"On one hand you say you are holding a referendum and on the other you are attacking with tank fire on civilian areas. You still think the people will go to a referendum the next day in the same city?" he asked at a news conference in Istanbul.

Davutoglu, whose country has turned strongly against its former friend since the Syrian revolt began in March, said Syria should accept an Arab League plan that calls on Assad to quit.

Opposition activists in Homs complained they saw no help coming, despite an international "Friends of Syria" conference in Tunis on Friday. They said the world had abandoned them to forces loyal to the president.

"They are still giving opportunities to this man who is killing us and has already killed thousands of people," said Nadir Husseini.

Damascus condemned all statements made at the Tunis conference, which it dubbed "the enemies of Syria meeting."

Russia and China, which did not attend the conference, vetoed a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria and there is little appetite in the international community for military intervention.

"I don't understand what they are waiting for. Do they need to see half the people of Syria finished off first?" said a doctor speaking anonymously from the restive town of Zabadani.

"The people of Zabadani resent what happened in Tunis. We need them to arm the revolution."

(Editing by Andrew Roche)



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