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Rebel Battalions Muzzling the Civil Revolution

Incidents of rebel forces targeting civil activists are becoming alarmingly systematic
Rebel Battalions Muzzling the Civil Revolution

Since the outbreak of the revolution, the Syrian regime has specifically targeted the peaceful movement, civil activists and their leadership.


Early on, for example, the regime struck the symbols of the non-violent campaign in Daraya and to this very day, hundreds of their non-violent activists are still missing.


Today, after some battalions with the Free Syrian Army gained control in liberated areas, the few remaining civil activists (after most of them have been martyred, are still in detention, or have left the country), are still the first to be targeted.


These battalions have ignored their war against the regime, complete with its jet fighters and chemical weapons, instead carrying out a campaign to muzzle and displace the few remaining civil activists and reporters.


These are no longer just marginal incidents; they are becoming alarmingly systematic.


Since the middle of last June, the Center of Documentation for Violations in Syria has reported more than thirty cases of kidnap, and arbitrary arrests if activists and reporters in Raqqa, Aleppo, Idlib, Daraa, Deir Al-Zor and the Countryside of Damascus. However, statistics show that this phenomenon is much more pronounced in Raqqa and Aleppo.


Parties who commit these violations are mostly from the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq, while other violations are divided almost equally between the Nusra Front, along with  some battalions of the Free Syrian Army and legislative bodies.


In the few past days, there are reports that some famous activists were beaten. The first incident supposedly took place after the Islamic State of Iraq stormed a meeting of the Local Coordination Committees in Saraqeb.


The second occurred during a confrontation with one of the Free Syrian Army battalions in Irbin, in the Countryside of Damascus.


The reasons for the first incident remain unknown, given the group that stormed the meeting had their faces covered. The reason for the second, however, is attributed to a protest by the battalion against a report issued by the Local Coordination Committee in Irbin.


In other cases, activists received death threats because of their satirical Facebook posts about military and political leaders. Activists were arrested because they freely expressed their ideas, or participated in protests against the administration of liberated areas, while others were targeted simply for expressing an attitude different from those of these administration.


One example is when an activist was accused by the legislative body in Aleppo on “intellectual charges" because he was identified as secular.


If what has already happened is not enough to motivate the rebels to sound an alarm, the future will be far worse. The arbitrary arrest, kidnap and killing at the hands of those who violate peoples' rights and dignity, points to the consolidation of new tyrannical actions that will strike the heart of the revolution if there is no strong confrontation built upon the solidarity of rebels across Syria.


What is happening in Raqqa and Aleppo may be repeated in other liberated regions and freedom and dignity will become the exception to the rule of violations and arbitrariness.  


Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer


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