They came for the men first, as the security forces of Syria's PresidentBashar al-Assad killed, beat and arrested people protesting against his regime.
Next, they came for the women of Syria's revolution. Despite the threats, however, they refuse to be silenced.
As the violence has become worse, women activists have organised a Friday protest of Free Women showing solidarity with those seized or killed. Women-only protests in towns across the country have led the effort to let the outside world know what is happening in Syria. But they are now being targeted as well, with the same lethal brutality.
Two weeks ago three women were shot dead at an all-women march near the besieged city of Banias. A week later human rights activist Catherine al-Talli, 32, was detained in the Barzeh district of Damascus after being forced off a minibus when it was stopped at a checkpoint by the secret police.
"Reem" – we have changed her name to protect her family – spoke to the Observer from Syria last week. Aged 22, she is expecting her first child in the next few weeks. Her husband, an anti-regime activist, has been arrested twice and is now in detention. Her father was invited to a meeting with a senior member of the regime and detained afterwards.
Reem has been arrested once. In common with activist friends, she expects a knock on her door from the security forces at any moment. She is still ready to risk prison by talking about the murderous repression in her country.
"I have women friends who have been arrested like me," she said. "But then they just go out again to protest. One of my friends was arrested for collecting medical supplies for the people in Deraa. She was beaten at the security branch and they forced her to take off her headscarf. She was held for two weeks and released two days ago.
And the part women are playing has become ever more important. "In some areas," says Ameera, a human rights lawyer, "so many of the men have been killed, arrested or injured it is the women who have been left to protest. The biggest problem is trying to find the people who have disappeared. The security forces won't say where they are, and the families are afraid to speak out."
For some – like Ameera – the threat has succeeded in persuading them to stay at home. She now feels unable to protest. "It feels like you are waiting for your turn to be arrested. I am expecting to be arrested at any moment. I am not scared for myself, but I am afraid for my family."