Robin Yassin-Kassab

Archive for April 2011

A Big Lie

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A Syrian in Banyas addresses accusations that the uprising is Salafi-led.


Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

April 29, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Posted in Syria

Some Shock, No Awe

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picture by Ali Farzat

By last Friday, if it hadn’t already done so, the Syrian regime effectively declared war on its own people, killing at least a hundred protestors. Throughout this week parts of Syria have fallen under outright siege. The tanks and infantry which haven’t peeped across the occupied Golan since 1973 entered the southern city of Dara’a, cutting roads, telephone and internet, water and electricity. Reports from the city speak of food shortages, generalised terror, and corpses stinking in the streets. Snipers are firing at pedestrians in the Damascus suburb of Douma. Tanks surround the coastal city of Banyas. Madaya, a mountain town on the Lebanese border, is also occupied. The regime may wish to stop weapons being smuggled across the border, or it may wish to stop Syrians fleeing via the smuggling routes. Thousands have crossed to Lebanon in recent days, and at least five hundred have been rounded into the regime’s torture chambers.

The violence has been massive, but also tactically applied. The sudden escalation is intended to shock the population into obedience. Yet live ammunition has not been used everywhere. Security forces have tried not to kill protesting Kurds in the north east, fearing that would trigger a genuine armed insurrection. Demonstrations in central Damascus have been dispersed with batons and tear gas rather than live fire. The regime doesn’t want to kill the sons of important businessmen, not yet at least.

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

April 29, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Posted in Sectarianism, Syria

Tagged with

You People

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My contribution to the Journal of Postcolonial Writing’s Pakistan Special.

Seventeen years ago, as a very young man, I arrived in Karachi. Apart from six months in Beirut in my babyhood, this was my first time outside Europe. I didn’t know what to expect, although I had stereotypes from my British experience of what a Pakistani was (a Mirpuri, with brown skin and eyes, probably a cab driver).

The airport was spacious and anonymous, until the exit. Here tens of faces squashed against the glass doors, most of them cab drivers trying to make a personal connection. I was offered hashish in the cab, taken to an expensive hotel – which I refused – then to a hotel for cockroaches, but very cheap and very friendly. The man at the desk had black skin and blue eyes.

I liked Karachi. It was bustling, lively and engaging. The food was spicy and the weather was pleasantly hot. There appeared to be no social restraint on spontaneous conversation with strangers. It wasn’t Britain. I was pleased to find a word or two of Arabic helped greatly.

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

April 28, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Posted in Pakistan

Easter Blood

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On Friday the saviour died for our sins

That we might live.

Dumuzi, on the blood river’s brink

Takes the plunge.

Israa Yunis, seven years old, takes the plunge

And the little boys of Dara’a whose skulls they smashed

The brave men of Jableh, the warm women of Bayda

The intellectuals, the street kids, the people of truth

Walk into the waves.

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

April 26, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Syria, writing

الجمعة العظيمة

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بالأمس القريب رفع الرئيس بشار الأسد قانون الطوارىء, وحلّ محاكم أمن الدولة سيئة السمعة وسمح بالتظاهر السلمي. ولكن بعد صدور المرسوم الرئاسي تقدم أحد المحامين في الحسكة بطلب إذن لتظاهرة سلمية فاعتقلته قوات الأمن.

واليوم , يوم “الجمعة العظيمة” قامت مظاهرة ضخمة, سلمية وعزلاء في كل المناطق السورية. لجأ الجيش والشرطة والميليشيات إلى استخدام الذخيرة الحية والعصي الكهربائية والغاز المسيل للدموع ضد المتظاهرين. قٌتِل على الأقل 88 ابناً وابنة من أبناء السوريين, ومنعت قوى النظام بعض المصابين من تلقّي المساعدة الطبية اللازمة, بينما تمّ اعتقال مصابين آخرين من فوق أسرّتهم في المشفى. يمكن رؤية هذا

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

April 24, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Posted in Syria

Four Points on Syria

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picture by Ali Farzat

1. Obama Should Shut Up

Obama’s claim that the Syrian regime is receiving Iranian assistance to repress protests is a statement which could inflame sectarian hatred inside Syria, as Obama’s Zionist advisors know very well. (This because Iran is Shia, a target of Saudi-Wahhabi propaganda, and the Syrian dictator is an Alawi, whereas the majority of Syrians are Sunnis). Obama gave no evidence to support his claim. The regime may be using Iranian bullets and tear gas. The Egyptian, Tunisian, and Libyan regimes have recently used American bullets and tear gas against their respective peoples. And America has offered its full support to the Saudi occupation of Bahrain and the Khalifa reign of terror there, which includes midnight arrests, extrajudicial executions, the destruction of Shia mosques, and assaults on hospitals and medical staff. The United States continues to assist the same dictatorships it has assisted for decades, and to function as the lifeline of the Zionist apartheid state. Obama’s statement could be a message to the Asad regime: if you distance Iran and the resistance, we will help you survive this crisis. But the Asad regime knows its only popularity arises from its support of resistance. Alternatively, Obama may have decided that Bashaar will fall, and the message is to the Syrian people, to encourage sectarian hatred amongst them and make it more difficult for them to build a stable, inclusive nation after the Asads capable of confronting the Zionist project.

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

April 24, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Posted in Syria

Tagged with , ,

Great Friday

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banner reads: was the martyr Hatem Hana, a Christian, also a Salafi?

Yesterday President Bashaar al-Asad lifted the Emergency Law, dissolved the notorious State Security Courts, and legalised peaceful protests.

After the president’s decree, a lawyer asked permission to hold a protest in Hasakeh. He was detained by security forces.

Today – ‘Great Friday’ – large, peaceful, unarmed protests were held in all regions of the country. Police, army and militia used tear gas, electric rods and live ammunition against the people. At least 88 sons and daughters of Syria were murdered. Regime forces prevented some of the wounded from receiving medical help. Other wounded have been arrested from their hospital beds. (Here are ugly scenes in Homs).

Damascus is under lockdown, mukhabarat clustering on every corner. Someone I know tried to cross the city today for entirely apolitical reasons. During the journey he was taken off the bus (with everyone else) and marched to a police station where he was questioned and his details recorded. But protests and gunfire still roared from the suburbs as far into the city’s heart as Meedan.

Words are one thing, actions another. The president’s words have no meaning at all.

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Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

April 22, 2011 at 10:37 pm