Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Defiant Messages!

Crackdown against western-oriented activists in Syria is proceeding apace and has been for quite a few weeks now, as we all know. The latest installments were the March 24 arrest of Samir Nashar, the founder of a liberal party based in Aleppo and one of the internal opposition figures who took part in breaking the barrier separating the “inside” and the “outside” when he attended the opposition conference organized by the Syrian National Council in Washington, DC at the end of February 2005. Samir was released a week later and put under a travel ban.

More recently, and as I have reported earlier, Syrian authorities arrested as well, the communist activist Fateh Jamous upon his return from a trip to Europe. This despite the fact that Fateh Jamous is well-known for his position against international dabbling in Syria’s internal affairs and against accepting any kind of foreign aid from international actors.

No contact with the outside is allowed, Period. This seems to be the underlying message that the regime seems want to make. And should the international community fails to react to this, the message will soon transmogrify into: no dissent of any kind will be tolerated, and then , it will indeed be back to the 80s, just as the Damascus Declaration people in Syria are predicting.

For now, however, we still have a few dissidents running about the country, surviving from one harassment to the next, biding their time in anticipation of future succor, which might as well be divine, because certain human beings simply don’t seem to get it.

Meanwhile, and in Syria’s newly rediscovered ally Iran, the well-known activist Ramin Jahanbeglu was arrested three days ago as he was about to board an international flight. Over the last few years Ramin has become a very important spokesman for the “westernized” elements in the Iranian civil society and was well-known for his widespread contact with academic communities all over the world. He has indeed become a symbol for a more open relationship with the “West.”

So, is there a connection between what is taking place in Syria and Iran, seeing that the two regimes are now working in tandem and in defiance of international community? Are the two totalitarian regimes defiantly hunkering down for an approaching showdown with the international community?

It may just be so. But, and whatever the case may be, Ramin’s arrest should not go down unnoticed. Ramin has a lot of friends in Europe and the US. This is the right time for them to act on his behalf.