Speakers address the crowd calling for urgent action to save those trapped in Aleppo (Image via Faysal Ahmed)
On Tuesday evening around 2,000 people gathered outside the Syrian Embassy in London to raise their concerns regarding the desperate situation of civilians trapped in Aleppo under increasingly worse conditions and with no means of escape. In recent days residents, aid workers and journalists were among those tweeting what they feared would be their last messages to the world. There have been allegations of mass executions and claims that some women committed suicide in fear of being raped.
According to the Soufan Group that provides strategic security intelligence services to governments and multinational organizations,
“As of December 13, Assad regime forces and their allies had reportedly retaken nearly all of the rebel-held parts of eastern Aleppo.”
“Rebel fighters in Aleppo agreed to a makeshift ceasefire allowing for the evacuation of rebels and civilians; the agreement will most likely lead to the near-emptying of another major Syrian city.”
The solidarity protest in support of those suffering in Aleppo was organized by Faysal Ahmed who posted details for supporters on his Facebook page.
Speakers included Moazzam Begg, Asim Qureshi, Dilly Hussain, Taji Mustafa, Ibtihal Bsis, Dr Salmon Butt, Ibrahim Jung, Imam Shakeel Begg, Sheikh Haitham, Isa Ath-Tha’ir and many others who gave up their time to come and address a packed out Belgravia.
The demonstration drew a crowd of around 2,000 at 24 hour notice
(Image via Faysal Ahmed)
Asim Qureshi stated,
“Last night I had the honour of addressing 2,000 human beings who stayed out until almost midnight in order to show their solidarity for those struggling in Aleppo.
My message was simple – don’t be fooled. I went back to when John Bolton was referring to Syria as being part of the Axis of Evil, while at the same time the CIA was sending Maher Arar, Muayyad Nurreddin, Abdullah al-Malki, Ahmad Abou El Maati and many others to be tortured at the notorious Syrian prison Fara Falastin.
At the start of the Syrian revolution I wrote about this, and it is worth bearing in mind again. We should not place our faith in these countries taking a moral position, but our duty still remains that we push them and embarrass them until they do so. Relationships between states are based on interest and nothing else, our governments must understand that it is in their interests to take our concerns seriously.”
In addition protesters were joined live from Syria by @Tox Sharif, @Raquel Hayden Best, Bilal Abdul Kareem and Mohammed Shakeel. In a first, brothers in Eman Channel succeeded in getting all the major Islamic TV channels to work together and broadcast the demonstration live. Ahmed requested that people “continue donating and highlighting the plight of the Syrians and speaking out against the barbaric Assad regime and his allies.”
The message was “Aleppo will rise again”.
Prayers said for Aleppo (Image via Faysal Ahmed)
Raju Motalib said, “what a turnout..what an event!!! well done to everyone for turning up and big thanks to CAGE and Faysal Ahmed for organising..may Allah SWT reward your efforts!!” However as campaigners were posting on the success of the event new came in that the ceasefire had already broken and shelling had started once again. There was no sign that any civilians were leaving on the buses provided by the Syrian government at an agreed checkpoint, with some media claiming they had returned to their depot, see following link,
“Aleppo: Syrian army resumes bombardment of city as fragile ceasefire crumbles”
Lina Shami tweeted from Aleppo,
“No one yet could leave from the besieged city as it should have been done in the agreement. Regime & Iran came back to revenge from civilians”
“At this moment intense shelling by regime & Iran gangs on the besieged districts
Journalist Laura Kuenssberg highlighted, “Govt source tells me UK drones are filming what’s happening in Aleppo to gather evidence so troops can be held to account in future.” That doesn’t however solve the immediate problem of who will help civilians now.
“West can: airdrops for Assad in Deir Ezzour, bombing IS from Al-Bab to Mosul, can put drones above Aleppo. but no airdrops/NFZ for civilians”
Abdul Hamid Faruki had a grim warning for the world if governments fail to act in time, he said, “Aleppo – it’s Srebrenica all over again.”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.