SYRIAN DISSIDENTS QUIT OPPOSITION COUNCIL
- Two prominent Syrian dissidents said Wednesday, March 14 they have quit the main opposition group that emerged from the year-old uprising against the regime in Damascus in protest over what one of the men described as an "autocratic" organization, AP reported.
The resignations from the Syrian National Council dealt another blow to the opposition, which has been hobbled by disorganization and infighting since the popular revolt against authoritarian President Bashar Assad started a year ago with protests calling for political reform.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International said Wednesday that Syrian security forces routinely torture people detained during the uprising. In a report, the London-based group said detainees are beaten with sticks, cords and rifle butts and sometimes suspended inside tires for further beatings. Others are sexually assaulted or killed.
One of the dissidents who resigned, Kamal al-Labwani, accused the leadership of the Syrian National Council of controlling the body's work while sidelining most of its 270 members.
He accused council chief Burhan Ghalioun and a few others of running the organization autocratically, even comparing it to Assad's ruling Baath party.
He said that another council member, Catherine al-Talli, also quit and said he expected many more to quit soon.
Another dissident, 80 year-old lawyer Haitham al-Maleh, also said he quit over lack of cooperation in the council.
Both men said they would remain involved in the quest to topple Assad. Al-Labwani called for an international conference to be held in Turkey to make the council more democratic while al-Maleh said he was working to build support for armed rebels of the Free Syrian Army.
Since the uprising's start, the opposition leadership has failed to create a united front to guide the anti-Assad struggle.
Prominent members have publicly disagreed on fundamental issues such as whether the struggle should be peaceful or armed.
Activists inside Syria, who face the greatest danger from Assad's security forces, accuse the council of being out of touch with the struggle on the ground. Most council members are Syrian exiles who have long lived in Europe, the U.S. and other Arab countries.
- 1884 Birth in Batoom of Levon Takhtajian, lecturer of Yerevan State University (agricultural economy and linguistics).
- 1901 Birth of Kostandeen Hakobian, Scientist, Doctor and Professor of Agricultural Sciences, in Meerzeek. He got a State Award for the creation of a Kazakh species of white-headed cattle.
- 1914 Birth of Balasan (Vruyr Balasanyan), translator and writer, in Moscow, .
- 1918 Start of the Trebizond negotiations between the delegations of Turkey and the Transcaucasian Seym. The German-Turkish attack took place at the same time. The negotiation effort was in vain as the Mensheviks, led by Chkhenkely, agreed to cede to the territorial demands of Turkey.
- 1921 Start of the Red Army's extensive attack on Yerevan, which ended in its victory two weeks later.
- 1921 End of the London Conference. It made indefinite allusions to a national home for the Armenians in Western Armenia. The Turkish part rejected it later.