Girl holds poster of Assad311.
(photo credit: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)
RAMALLAH – A few hundred Palestinians gathered at Manara Square in the heart of
Ramallah on Sunday evening to show solidarity with the Syrian people and demand
that President Bashar Assad stand down.
Teenagers and people in their
20s, and a handful of families, held the Syrian and Palestinians flags and
posters calling for Assad to resign.
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They chanted slogans against the
“The dictatorship in Syria is committing unbelievable
atrocities day after day,” a 24- year-old protester told The Jerusalem Post.
preferred not to give his name; many Palestinians are not comfortable having
their names appear in newspapers, especially in Israeli ones.
there is no link between the Syrian regime’s claim of opposition to Israel and
what’s happening on the ground of late.
“People’s freedom is more
important,” he said. “I even think if the Syrian people were to vote
democratically, there would be serious opposition to Israel.”
excited to see new faces streaming into the streets of Ramallah, people who
don’t usually participate in political demonstrations. He was happy that many
protesters weren’t politically affiliated.
The demonstration was
scheduled for Monday but was held a day early because other young people had
planned to rally on Sunday, and the two groups decided to join
Some said the idea was to hold the event on Sunday because
another such event was being held by Arab Israelis in Israel that day. Others
said the timing was a coincidence.
More and more people in the
Palestinian territories are becoming hostile to the Assad regime; some say it
claims to resist Israel in order to curry popularity on the Syrian street, and
to furnish a cover for its ruthless crackdown on civilian
Manar Aranki, a Palestinian Authority civil servant, is the
coordinator for the Palestinian Committee in Solidarity with the Syrian People.
She told the Post
that she and friends worked for more than two weeks to
organize Sunday evening’s rally.
“We were thinking for a while about
demonstrating, but we wanted to give people an opportunity to mobilize; we also
received a letter from a Syrian friend asking where the Palestinian solidarity
“We shouldn’t stay silent regarding what’s going on in Syria,” the
“The oppression of the Syrian people is increasing
every day, and we are witnessing what’s happening in the Syrian streets. Unlike
the censorship in the past, cellphones and social media have forever changed the
way revolutions happen.”
Aranki has a BA in English and is active on
Around 8,000 Facebook members were invited to come to Manara
Square on Sunday, and 580 people confirmed that they would attend the
A few groups of Palestinian youth have been active on the Arab
Spring issues since the beginning of the year, and many new connections have
been made as a result, in efforts to show solidarity with the Egyptian people or
to rally on domestic issues such as the end of the occupation.
participants thought Sunday evening’s demonstration was linked to the reports
that Palestinians might be among the dead after the Syrian Navy shelled the port
city of Latakia earlier in the day.
Aranki disagrees with that
assumption. “We want to send a message that the blood and fate of the
Palestinian and Syrian people are united. If that assumption were true, we would
have demonstrated much earlier. We’re sure the Assad regime has killed
Palestinians since the riots first broke out in Syria.”
informed the Ramallah and El-Bireh Governorate of their plans to demonstrate one
day before the event.
“The Palestinian police were very cooperative with
us,” Aranki said.
The Palestinian Committee in Solidarity with the Syrian
People issued a statement saying that Palestinians are fully behind the Syrian
revolution and its demand for freedom and democracy, and are against external
influences on Syria.
According to human rights activists in Syria, the
fighting has killed around 2,200 people, some 400 of them were members of the