SYRIA: Residents bury the dead from Friday protests as activists call for fresh demonstrations over alleged torture and killing of a boy
As residents in Syrian cities and towns gathered Saturday to bury those killed in anti-government rallies on Friday, pro-democracy activists called for fresh demonstrations amid allegations that 13-year-old Hamza Khatib was tortured and killed by Syrian security forces in the southern region of Deraa, according to activist accounts and video footage posted to the Internet.
Media reports and activists on the Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page said that Khatib's body was returned to his family earlier this week after his disappearance at a protest in late April. Several pictures of what is said to be Khatib appeared on the Facebook page on Saturday.
"We will go out from every home, from every district to express our anger" to protest the killing, said activists on the site. Other Syrian activist accounts said Khatib had been beaten, shot and castrated and that his neck had been broken.
Meanwhile, the Syrian National Organization for Human Rights upped Friday's death count and said that Syrian security forces shot dead 12 protesters during anti-government demonstrations in more than 91 locations across Syria on Friday, according to the Reuters news agency.
Syria's official SANA news agency claimed that nine civilians and policemen were killed when what it called "armed groups" took advantage of "a number of gatherings of citizens in a few areas and opened fire".
Reactions to Khatib's alleged torture and death on social media networks on the Internet suggested that he could become a symbol for the struggle of pro-democracy activists in Syria.
"Tunisia: Mohamed Bouazizi. Egypt: Khaled Saeed. Syria: Hamza El Khateeb," read a tweet posted by user Mosa'ab Elshamy.
Bouazizi was the Tunisian street vendor who set off a protest movement in Tunisia that led to the toppling of ex-Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after setting himself on fire in December last year in protest of the confiscation of his wares by a municipal officer. The deadly beating of Khaled Said allegedly in an Egyptian police station was said by some to have served as a catalyst for the Egyptian revolution.
Amateur video footage posted to the Internet Saturday was said to show funeral processions in Syria a day after several people were reported killed in anti-government rallies. In the clip below, crowds march and chant "God is great" at what is said to be a funeral march on Saturday for a man in a Damascus district. A narrator in the video says the man was killed in the "Homeland Protector Friday" protest rallies on a day that activists had called on the Syrian army to stand with the people.
In the video below, demonstrators in the Damascus suburb of Barze are said to be singing Syria's national anthem and can seen waving Syrian flags while what appear to be pro-regime loyalists or security forces look on from a distance. What looks like a bouquet of flowers has been placed on a security fence nearby.
--Los Angeles Times
Image and video credit: YouTube