Syrian Eid al-Adha 2011

Not a great Eid in Syria. The traditional open air Eid prayers turned into anti-regime demonstrations and, as usual, the regime’s insecurity forces fired at the demonstrators. At least twenty three people were murdered today, including an infant. Many of the dead were in the central city of Homs, which has been a veritable war zone for weeks, the site of clashes between loyalist and defected soldiers as well as tank bombardments and sniper fire from the regime. In the last four days, since the regime supposedly agreed to release prisoners and withdraw its forces from civilian areas according to the Arab League plan, at least 80 people have been reported killed in the city.

There is one piece of very important good news, however. Burhan Ghalyoun, leader of the Syrian National Council, delivered an Eid address to the Syrian people which was carried by al-Jazeera. Ghalyoun, who does not wish to become a future president, was truly presidential. He appealed to those Syrians still hesitant or afraid to support the revolution, assuring them that the future Syria will be a state of citizenship and equal rights, and that minorities will be protected. Bringing larger sections of the Alawi and Christian minorities on board is the only way for the revolution to move forward, so Ghalyoun’s speech is most welcome, and long overdue. The English translation which follows after the break was posted at al-Jazeera’s live blog, but I found it at the excellent Walls.

The Address of SNC President; Dr. Burhan Ghalioun to The Syrian Nation

Saturday, 5 November 2011

The great people of Syria,

I address you today on the eve of eid al-Adha, as our country reels from the violent actions of an unjust regime which has transformed our country over the decades into a kingdom where power is inherited, where rights are deprived and where dignity and freedom are beyond reach of its people.

We became accustomed to this predicament until we could tolerate it no longer. In your revolt for freedom, you sacrificed your most precious assets until every home in Syria has experienced the loss a father, the rape of a daughter and the arrest and disappearance of a young man or child. And as the pillars of tyranny shook, your courage, determination and capacity to sacrifice has captured the world’s admiration. You are not in this ordeal alone, your sacrifices have been noted by Syrians everywhere and your efforts have highlighted the trove of talents and creative abilities of all Syrians.

The great people of Syria,

From this day onward, Syria is home to freedom and dignity, free of all discrimination, injustice and exclusion. Syria is one nation for a united Syrian people with no reference to majorities and minorities, religion, sect or regional affiliation. It is a country where the principles of citizenship and equality reign and where people are judged on the basis of their capacities to give and sacrifice for the sake of their country. Syria’s new constitution will protect minorities and their rights, including the Kurds, who have suffered discrimination. Syria will have a new judicial, legislative and executive system which will be held accountable by the people. The power of government will be limited and the people will choose who governs them through the ballot box. Syrians will enjoy the rule of law, where everyone is equal before an independent judiciary, and all Syrians have equal rights to form organizations, political parties, associations and participation in decision-making.

The great people of Syria,

With each passing day, and with every drop of blood shed, we are one step closer to freedom. The days of tyranny are numbered and the demise of the current regime is inevitable. History has taught us that regimes based on corruption, oppression and slavery are bound to fail: all unjust rulers who detain its youth, steal the wealth of the country and kill its people inevitably come to an end.

The great people of Syria,

The Syrian National Council is fighting a political battle with you, and on your behalf, at home and abroad. It is your Council, your voice heard by the world to defend your cause. Its members are your comrades in the battle for freedom. We are honored by you all, and heartened by your support of the National Council. We promise not to waste any effort or time to overthrow the tyrannical regime. Will not negotiate on the blood of the victims and martyrs nor will we compromise on the pained groans of detainees. We will not be deceived. The National Council will not allow the regime to bide for time. We are aware of the responsibility and trust you have placed on us. But the challenges that we face are great. We are working towards building a solid council with strong foundations to be able to manage the affairs of the country during the transition. This mission cannot happen overnight and we have made rapid progress. We have submitted a formal request to the Secretariat of the League of Arab States and the United Nations to protect civilians in Syria and send international observers. The Council is exploring other options as well.

The great people of Syria,

On this holy day, we salute our soldiers who are refusing to carry out orders. They are risking their lives and those of their families to defend the people and protect them in their peaceful revolt. Syrians will not forget what these soldiers have done for them by showing their support and commitment to their real duty of protecting them. We call upon the rest of the Syrian army to follow example to protect the homeland and citizens.

The great people of Syria,

Syrians will not forget all those nations and organizations which have helped and supported them to gaining liberty. We will continue to mobilize local, regional and international support for our just cause. The regime is still intent on drawing the country into chaos and civil war, but we will resist by uniting until we are victorious.

The great people of Syria,

The future begins today. We are working towards building a new Syria where freedom replaces oppression, dignity wins over discrimination, love takes over hatred and progress triumphs. All of us together today have a duty to create such a Syria and restore it back to life.

May God have mercy on the fallen heroes. May the wounded and injured be healed and may the young detainees soon be released.

Long live free Syria and the great people of Syria and great Eid to all.

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