[Marxism] Bashar al-Assad: no sense of humor
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Aug 26 07:24:30 MDT 2011
NY Times August 25, 2011
Political Cartoonist Whose Work Skewered Assad Is Brutally Beaten
By NADA BAKRI
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Masked gunmen severely beat Syria’s best-known
political cartoonist on Thursday, breaking his hand and leaving
him to bleed on the side of a road in Damascus, activists said.
The attack came days after the artist, Ali Farzat, published a
cartoon showing President Bashar al-Assad hitching a ride out of
town with Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya, who was toppled from
power this week.
Also Thursday, Syrian security forces carried out military
operations against antigovernment activists in several areas
across the country, killing nine people, activists and residents said.
Since the start of the Syrian uprising in March, Mr. Farzat, whose
cartoons are renowned through the Arab world, has aimed his pen at
Mr. Assad and his crackdown on protesters.
Activists said that Mr. Farzat was seized at 4:30 a.m. in Umayyad
Square in Old Damascus, as he was heading home from his studio.
They said he was beaten severely and thrown out of a car along the
airport road, where passers-by found him.
A friend of Mr. Farzat’s said that two fingers of his left hand
were broken, his right arm fractured and his left eye bruised.
Another friend, Ayad Sharbaji, visited him in the hospital and
relayed his description of what happened. “They told him as they
were burning his beard, ‘We’ll see what you will draw from now
on,’ ” Mr. Sharbaji said. “ ‘How dare you disobey your masters?’ ”
The attackers also stole drawings and other personal belongings,
activists and friends said.
The American Embassy in Damascus called it “a
government-sponsored, targeted, brutal attack.”
“What happened to Ali Farzat today scared us,” said an activist
from Homs, who wished to be identified only by her first name,
Sally. “But it’s only a proof of how desperate the regime is. It
shows how frightened they are and proves that they are losing
In eastern Syria, tanks and armored vehicles entered the town of
Shuhail, southeast of the provincial capital, Deir al-Zour,
activists and residents said. Daily protests against the
government have taken place in Shuhail, they said, since the start
Security forces also attacked four towns in the province of Dara’a
in southern Syria, and Rastan and Talbiseh, two villages near
Homs, Syria’s third largest city, where there have been large
demonstrations. Residents in both areas reported hearing heavy
gunfire and loud explosions throughout the day.
The Local Coordination Committees, a group of Syrian activists
involved in organizing and documenting the protests, said that
four soldiers were also shot dead in Rastan after they refused to
fire on protesters and residents. Activists said that a Turkish
driver was killed as he was driving through the same village,
though the reason was not clear.
The committees said that among those dead was a 9-year-old boy
from Baniyas, a city along the Mediterranean Coast that was the
scene of a brutal crackdown in May.
The Syrian news agency, Sana, which focuses its reports on the
deaths of soldiers it attributes to terrorists, said that armed
groups had fired on a military bus in the town of Talbiseh,
killing an officer and two soldiers, and that “a terrorist group”
had killed five soldiers in Rastan.
The Syrian government has not given a total number of security
forces killed in the crackdown on protests, but activists and
human rights groups say that about 400 have died. The United
Nations says that more than 2,200 people have been killed over the
past five months.
New American sanctions imposed over the crackdown have rendered
Visa and MasterCard credit cards no longer valid in Syria,
officials said Thursday. The Treasury Department added the
state-owned Commercial Bank of Syria and its Lebanon-based
subsidiary to its sanctions list this month, citing links to human
rights abuses and to illegal weapons trade with North Korea.
Hwaida Saad contributed reporting.
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