Syrian opposition conference in Damascus shut down by regime

Syrian opposition conference in Damascus shut down by regime
An opposition conference scheduled to take place in Damascus over the weekend was stopped by the regime, who claimed the organisers lacked the proper approval.
3 min read
29 March, 2021
Syria marked 10 years since the start of uprisings this month [Getty]
A Syrian opposition conference that was scheduled to take place in Damascus over the weekend was shut down by the regime

The organisers of the meeting, which was intended to establish the National Democratic Front (NDF), were contacted at midnight and told the conference did not have the approval of the official Party Affairs Committee. 

In a statement the NDF said that the regime will not accept "any democratic and revolutionary national activity that opposes it and seeks to change the current conditions that have exhausted Syria and the Syrians".

They added that the ban by the regime was a "violation of all international laws and human rights, and a criminal suppressive act to be added to the regime's record of everything that disgraces".

Last week, the Secretary-general of the Arab Democratic Socialist Union, Ahmed Al-Asrawi, announced that a meeting of different Syrian opposition groups would take place in Damascus.

He denied that the meeting was related to upcoming Syrian presidential elections, which were branded as "illegal" by the group with calls for a boycott.

Al-Asrawi explained to RT Arabic which groups were expected to attend the conference shortly before it was scheduled to take place. 

"The forces of the entire National Coordination Committee will attend along with a group of other political forces present on the Syrian arena whose number is at least ten, and some independent national opposition figures," he said.

He said that they had received no guarantees of safety from the regime and that if representatives from the Cairo or Moscow platforms wished to attend it will be as "guests [of Al-Asrawi] and not as partners".

Prior to scheduled conference, the NDF released draft documents, outlining their aims. 

They called for all parties to end to military action and begin work on a political solution, in line with the Geneva talks and UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

The statement highlighted the need for "a transitional governing body with full executive powers, leading to a democratic atmosphere that allows writing a new constitution for the country, and fair elections".

The proposed NDF would not be affiliated with the Turkish backed Syrian National Coalition, the main Syrian opposition bloc.

Tensions have been running high within opposition circles regarding the upcoming presidential elections in Syria. 

There is a strong belief that the process will be rigged in favour of Bashar Al-Assad, and that to take part in the elections would only add legitimacy to a corrupt process. 

Russia, who has helped militarily prop up Assad since 2015, has been supporting a number of self-described opposition groups within Syria, in an attempt to bolster the appearance of a fair and open democracy. 

Read more: In the shadows of Syria's revolution, a generation of activists is born

Ahmed Al-Asrawi has long been a prominent figure in Syrian politics and was chosen in 2019 to represent the opposition in the Constitutional Committee in Geneva. 

This month, Syria marked ten years since the uprising that led to a deadly civil war which has killed hundreds of thousands and forced millions from their homes. 

The Syrian regime has detained tens of thousands of perceived opponents, including protesters, with thousands believed dead from torture and execution.

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