Syria: State unleashes new terror

The death toll is rising from the Syrian army’s brutal assault on the mass uprising in the city of Hama and other areas.

Over 150 have been killed in the last week alone and many badly injured. People armed only with stones and wooden bats have heroically confronted tanks, showing a huge level of anger, courage and determination.

The state forces had previously pulled out of Hama in the face of repeated mass demonstrations, shut-downs and the erection of barricades. More and more protesters were going onto the streets, despite facing the possibility of death, detention and torture.

The repressive government of president Bashar al-Assad had effectively lost control of the city and wanted to regain it as the Muslim month of Ramadan approached.

The Ba’ath Party-dominated regime has suppressed dissent over decades and is now churning out propaganda blaming "armed groups" for the violence. But this is a mass uprising that has broken out in varying degrees across all provinces of Syria, inspired by the ’Arab Spring’, and now demanding that Assad goes. Significantly, in recent weeks there have been pockets of revolt in the two largest cities, Damascus and Aleppo.

The crocodile tears of US president Obama and other imperialist leaders in the UN must be rejected for the self-interested posturing that they are. Syrian workers can only rely on their own mass defensive and offensive action – as most of them rightly recognise – supported by workers internationally.

In its desperate struggle for survival, the regime has been trying to whip up division between different national, ethnic and religious sections of society.

To counter this, communities and workplaces need to democratically organise inter-ethnic defence bodies, with city-wide, regional and national coordination.

Demonstration against Assas, Hama, 29 July

The movement also needs to organise to formulate a programme that can win over workers, soldiers and the poor who still support the Assad government, not least out of fear of what would follow its collapse.

Already, groups of rank and file soldiers have defected rather than shoot unarmed protesters.

Such a programme needs to take into account that overthrowing an autocratic regime is only part of the necessary task, as has been shown in Tunisia and Egypt. Also needed is the building of a working class-led alternative that can remove every remnant of the former repressive and exploitative capitalist regime.

  • For united struggle against the regime by the working class and poor in Syria drawn from all nationalities, ethnicities and religions.
  • For the building of democratically run committees in workplaces and communities for defence against repression and to develop the struggle
  • No to any interference by the world or regional capitalist powers!
  • For independent trade unions and a new mass party of working people
  • For a revolutionary constituent assembly.
  • For a majority workers’ and poor people’s government, with socialist policies, guaranteeing full democratic rights for all minorities

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August 2011