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Albin Szakola

Druze protesters clash with
Syria regime loyalists

A video purports to show a gunshot ringing out in the air as Assad supporters scuffled with "You Broke Us" activists.

Suweida protest. (YouTube/Swaida Khabar)

BEIRUT – Protesters in Suweida have clashed with regime loyalists during a rally held by the activist “You Broke Us” group railing against mismanagement of the Druze-populated province.

 

Dozens of demonstrators gathered Thursday in the center of the provincial capital, holding up banners against “corruption” while chanting for “freedom and dignity,” according to the local Swaida Khabar outlet.

 

A video of the protest shows the young activists chanting “We won’t bow… but to our God,” while also launching a broadside against Wafiq Nasser , the regime’s Political Security Branch chief in the province.

 

“O’ you Wafiq [Nasser] the deceiver [or traitor]… the people of Suweida can’t be humiliated,” the crowd yelled.

 

"You Broke Us" protesters rally Thursday in Suweida. (YouTube/Swaida Khabar)

 

The peaceful protest quickly degenerated into chaos, however, with Swaida Khabar reporting that regime loyalists massed around the rally.

 

“The ‘Shabiha’ members tried to attack the protesters, leading to a fistfight between the two sides,” Swaida Khabar’s correspondent said.

 

The reporter added that a regime loyalist proceeded to open fire into the air “to intimidate protesters,” however the demonstration continued until it ended without any further problems.  

 

A video uploaded by the “You Broke Us” campaign shows part of the scuffle, with a gunshot ringing out near the end of the clip. The activist group has not issued any formal statement on the incident, claiming only that “Hezbollah members opened  fire in the air to disperse the protesters.”

 

The scuffle at Thursday's "You Broke Us" protest.

 

Thursday’s protest was the latest organized by “You Broke Us” since early March. Although the demonstrations started off by criticizing the arbitrary firing of teachers called up for military service, they have since taken an increasingly broader anti-regime tone.

 

In its rally cry for the latest protest, “You Broke Us” defiantly announced that “we won’t be silent” while daring Suweida Governor Atef Nadaf to “say whatever you want about us.”

 

“History is recording that there are youths in this country still steadfast and continue speaking and their voices are growing much more [stronger] than before.”

 

“You Broke Us” listed four main demands for the protest, including: a “united Syria” and “one people with one fate,” the end of corrupt policies that have collapsed the value of the Syrian pound, and preventing “mafiosos” from carrying arms in an arbitrary fashion in the province.

 

The student-led movement also indirectly slammed the Syrian regime’s military and security policies, but instead of pointing the finger at Damascus, it called on the “UN and the international community” to take a “decisive stance… concerning the siege of cities, destruction and violence, and arbitrary arrests.”

 

The campaign also sounded a dire warning over the situation in Hama Central Prison, which inmates took over last week in a bid to negotiate the release of political prisoners with Damascus. According to “You Broke Us,” the jail “stands at the gates of a humanitarian disaster.” 

 

Amin Nasr translated Arabic-language material.

Thursday protest in Suweida. (YouTube/Swaida Khabar)

“O’ you Wafiq [Nasser] the deceiver [or traitor]… the people of Suweida can’t be humiliated,” the crowd yelled.