Syria is locked in a violent struggle with its people over who should rule, and how, with no end in sight.
Protests and revolution against the al-Assad regime (led by Bashar al-Assad) which has been in power through two leaders (a father and his son) for more than 40 years are have gained the attention of the world.
It’s a revolution set to ‘simmer’ that has been gaining traction, and seeing even more lives lost, over weeks.
Here’s what you should know.
When did the protests start?
Like the uprisings in Egypt and Libya (among numerous other Middle Eastern and North African nations), Syrian protests began early in the year and quickly gained momentum. It’s strange how these things take hold. In Syria, it took hold with a group of kids about 10-years-old who tagged anti-Government messages in spray paint on a wall. Their treatment at the hands of the regime struck a chord with the people.
What happened next?
The Government took the children away without telling their parents. They were aged 10-14, remember. The townspeople from the boys’ home began a protest, as you could well imagine. It’s not an easy thing to do, protesting in a country that blurs the lines between rights without necessarily being seen as a ‘dictatorship’. And the regime responded with force, killing 6 people at first. More followed. The protests escalated. 20,000 turned out for the funerals of the dead. Thousands more turned out for a national ‘Day of Rage’.
But surely there must be more to it than that?
You’re right, there is. Syria (like any nation!) is a country formed on the back of complexity. It’s a relatively stable state wedged between Lebanon and Iraq, no easy feat with such unsettled neighbours. But Syria, like many countries subject to protests and revolutions, has a long and pockmarked track record of human rights violations. The country itself has been under ’emergency rule’ since 1963. This was only lifted more than a month into the protests as an attempt to quell protests. The emergency rule is basically a stripped down version of governing without recourse to usual rights and privileges for citizens because the country is technically at war with Israel.