The Syrian government has already killed more than 3,500 people trying to put down pro-democracy protests since March. Now Western tech companies are helping Syria roll out a massive new weapon to quash dissent: a tool to monitor and locate Internet users.
The new weapon is one of the most sophisticated surveillance systems in the world -- using it, the Syrian military could quickly find individuals uploading YouTube videos documenting human rights abuses or using Twitter to organize protests. Soldiers could then go door-to-door taking out activists. Syria's democratic movement would go dark.
Syrian activist Anas Qtiesh has teamed up with the group ACCESS to launch an urgent petition on Change.org to prevent four American and European companies from supplying technology and expertise to the regime to get the system off the ground. Will you sign ACCESS and Anas' petition to get the Western companies behind the surveillance system to end their contracts in Syria immediately?
Despite growing international pressure, the Syrian government continues killing civilians all over the country. And the military is starting to hone in on social media as a way to take down the pro-democracy movement. Amnesty International has documented the interrogation of one detained Syrian activist in which soldiers tried to get him to log into his Facebook account -- so they could go after his friends, too.
Two of the four companies involved (Qosmos, NetApp, Area and Ultimaco) have already responded to public pressure saying they want to withdraw from the project -- but nothing concrete has been done yet. Unless public outcry grows to a volume they can’t ignore, these companies won’t pull out their equipment and services -- and the cost will be in more lives lost.
Please sign ACCESS and Anas' petition to shut down development of Syria's deadly new weapon against activists, and then send it to everyone you know:
Thanks for being a change-maker,
- Weldon and the Change.org team
The tide turns against Bashar Assad
As the violence inside Syria intensifies, governments in the region and beyond are turning against an increasingly beleaguered president
THE city of Homs, the third-biggest in Syria, is close to civil war. Sitting astride a sectarian fault-line between the city’s mainly Sunni centre and an area to the north-west dominated by members of the Alawite faith, a minority Muslim sect whose followers form the core of Bashar Assad’s regime, it is now the hub of the conflict. In the past fortnight, more than 100 people in the city are reported to have been killed. The security forces are struggling to regain control.
Between Homs and Idlib in the north-west, Mr Assad’s men, despite an increasing proliferation of checkpoints, are facing tougher opposition than ever before. After months of mainly peaceful protests, Hama, Syria’s fourth city, to the north of Homs, is becoming more violent too. Across the country, the scale of bloodshed has increased, as a growing number of defectors from the army, along with civilians who have been acquiring weapons in greater numbers, have joined the fray. On November 16th army defectors attacked an intelligence base in a Damascus suburb. The nationwide death rate in the past fortnight may, say human-rights monitors, have doubled, with nearly 400 people perishing so far this month....Though central Damascus and Aleppo, the second city, have yet to witness violence on the scale of Homs and Hama, dissent is growing there too. Most notably, big businessmen who had hitherto sided with the regime have been taking their assets abroad and vacillating in their support for Mr Assad, whose family have long cultivated an effective culture of crony capitalism. Even among Christians and Alawites, whose communities each make up around a tenth of the populace and who have feared Mr Assad’s replacement by a Sunni and perhaps Islamist regime, loyalty to him may be less assured than before....
Of the other regional heavyweights, Turkey, the neighbour with the biggest punch, has been fiercest in calling for Syria’s regime to reform or die. Its government hosts the main political opposition, the Syrian National Council (SNC), and harbours the leaders of the Free Syrian Army, a burgeoning group of defecting soldiers. More recently Turkey has threatened to cut off electricity to northern Syria....