Friday, June 10, 2011

Syrian soldier 'ordered to fire' on peaceful protesters

9 June 2011

"A former member of the Syrian Republican Guard has told Amnesty International that he and other soldiers were ordered to open fire on unarmed protesters holding a pro-reform demonstration in Harasta, near Damascus, in April.

Walid ‘Abd al-Karim al-Qash’ami has been told that he is now under sentence of death in Syria because he refused to shoot and joined the protesters after witnessing soldiers kill three children, a young man and woman.

Speaking by phone from the country where he is now taking refuge, the 21-year-old said he was among 250 soldiers sent to quell a protest at Harasta on Saturday, 23 April.

Their officers told them they were to confront a “violent gang” but what they found were around 2,000 unarmed protesters, including children and women. Many of the men were bare-chested to show that they carried no weapons. Many of the protesters were carrying roses.

I was shocked when I saw the security services and the army actually shooting at unarmed protesters who were chanting “Silmieh, Silmieh” (Peaceful, Peaceful) and “Nafdiki Ya Dera’a” (Our lives in return for you, Dera’a). When I heard those slogans, I just could not shoot at them, especially as I am from Dera’a and they were risking their lives for my city.”.....

Walid ‘Abd al-Karim al-Qash’ami is the second Syrian soldier to have told Amnesty International that he deserted the ranks and fled when ordered to shoot at unarmed protesters."

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