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Syria: British ambassador speaks out

Moving eyewitness testimony from the British ambassador in Syria

Sometimes this blog will be just about direct sharing. 

With a minority here in London and elsewhere questioning whether the Syrian uprising is some kind of Western plot to get at Iran and with Russia encouraging doubters by its strong opposition to UN action, Simon Collis is Britain's Ambassador to Syria (recalled to London recently as I reported the other day) has posted this blog. It gives as impartial an eyewitness account of what has been going on as anything I have read. Beyond that I have dealt with British diplomats for a long time - they are never this frank in public.  The post has tremendous moral force and I urge you to read it in its entirety.

Here are a few extracts:

"Over the long period of time that I have known Syria, I have seen the regime of Hafez Assad and his son Bashar in action. The Assad dynasty was never a pleasant one to its people. I have seen the wounds of people released from prison. I have spoken to the families whose relatives have simply disappeared. I have heard from those who got a knock at 2am from the Mukhabarat (intelligence services) and were taken away for a still unknown affront to the Syrian authorities.

But even having witnessed Syria’s dark side, the violence and brutality I have witnessed over the last ten months shocks me.

From the very start of this unrest, the regime’s tactics were laid bare. On 15 March 2011 we watched as 40 Syrians lined up outside the Ministry of Interior on Merjeh Square in central Damascus to protest silently the arbitrary detention of their friends and family. They made no provocative chants and advocated no violence. They simply held up pictures of their friends and family members that had been held in detention for months or years without trial. It was a scene of dignified and peaceful protest.

After 10 minutes, the regime had had enough. Plain clothed security forces moved in en masse. We stood and watched as they beat innocent civilians with sticks and batons. No care was taken for the elderly, for women, for the young children. All were treated with equal brutality.

This scene has been repeated time and again."

He adds, "It can be hard to believe that over 5,000 people have been killed in ten months, or that torture is a regular occurrence in prisons, children brutalized and tanks and mortars used by the army against its own citizens. If I hadn’t seen for myself what the Syrian regime has done I would be asking these questions too.

But I have. And it is too shocking to ignore."

You can follow more from Ambassador Collis on twitter; @ukinsyria

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/europe/syria-britains-ambassador-speaks-out