AMMAN - Tens of thousands of chantingSyrians demanded the "overthrow of the regime" on Saturday atfunerals for scores of people killed by security forces in thecountry's bloodiest pro-democracy protests, witnesses said.
Funerals were held in Damascus and at least one of itssuburbs and in the southern village of Izra'a, where mourners also chanted "Bashar al-Assad, you traitor. Long live Syria,down with Bashar."
Ahead of the funerals, a Syrian human rights campaigner warned "The funerals will turn into vehement protests, like past funerals.""When you have security services who are thugs it is difficult to think that they will not shoot at the crowds. Another cycle of funerals and demonstrations is likely to follow," the rights campaigner said from the Syrian capital.
UN, US, France condemn violence against demonstratorsUN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday condemned violence against Syrian citizens by authorities and called for a "transparent and independent" inquiry into the death of the protesters.“The secretary general condemns the ongoing violence against peaceful demonstrators in Syria, and calls for it to stop immediately,” said UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq. US President Barack Obama condemned Friday's violence and accused Assad of seeking help from Iran."This outrageous use of violence to quell protests must come to an end now," Obama said in a statement. "Instead of listening to their own people, President Assad is blaming outsiders while seeking Iranian assistance in repressing Syria's citizens...."France's Foreign Ministry said Paris was "deeply concerned"."Syrian authorities must give up the use of violence against their citizens. We again call on them to commit without delay to an inclusive political dialogue and to achieve the reforms legitimately demanded by the Syrian people."Those killed were among tens of thousands of people who have taken to the streets of cities and rural areas across Syria calling for the overthrow of the regime, demands which have hardened over recent weeks.Friday's protests went ahead despite Assad's decision this week to lift the country's hated emergency law, in place since his Baath Party seized power 48 years ago.A statement by the Local Coordination Committees said the end of emergency law was futile without the release of thousands of political prisoners -- most held without trial -- and the dismantling of the security apparatus.In their first joint statement since the protests erupted last month, the activists said the abolition of the Baath Party's monopoly on power and the establishment of a democratic political system was central to ending repression in Syria.Amnesty International said Syrian authorities "have again responded to peaceful calls for change with bullets and batons"."They must immediately halt their attacks on peaceful protesters and instead allow Syrians to gather freely as international law demands," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa director.