Songwriter of Syria uprising meets gruesome death
Beirut, July 28: Ibrahim Qashoush’s lyrics moved thousands of protesters in Syria who sang his jaunty verses at rallies, telling President Bashar Assad, “Time to leave.” So when his body was dumped in the river flowing through his hometown, his killers added an obvious message: His throat was carved out.
Qashoush’s slaying underlines how brutal Syria’s turmoil has become as authorities try to crush a persistent uprising. His fellow activists are convinced he was killed by security forces and fear it could mark a new campaign to liquidate protest leaders.
An estimated 1,600 civilians have died in the crackdown on the largely peaceful protests that have been raging around Syria for more than four months, most from shootings by troops on anti-Bashar rallies. Qashoush’s case was a rare, targeted killing of a prominent activist — made more chilling by the clear intention to send a bloody message.
The 42-year-old Qashoush, a father of three boys, was a fireman in the central Syrian city of Hama who wrote poetry in his spare time, said a close friend, Saleh Abu Yaman. Before the uprising began in mid-March, he’d write about love or hard economic times.
“All the poems and songs he wrote were by instinct. He used to be sitting with his friends and then start reciting a poem,” Abu Yaman said.
But once the protests erupted and spread, Qashoush turned his pen to the uprising. Hama became one of the hottest centers of the demonstrations. In early June, security forces shot dead 65 people there, and since than it has fallen out of government control, with protesters holding the streets and government forces ringing it, conducting overnight raids into the city.
The hometown son’s star rose with the city. At nearly every protest, the crowds were singing his most popular lyric, “Come on, Bashar, time to leave.” It was put to a bouncy tune, and his poems rang with a down-to-earth, jokey sound.
“Freedom is at our doors. Come on, Bashar, time to leave!“
Two days later, on July 3, Qashoush disappeared.
Abu Yaman says he was told by witnesses that Qashoush was walking to work in central Hama when a white vehicle stopped, several men jumped out and muscled him into the car. They then sped away.
“We immediately knew he was captured by security agents,” Abu Yaman told The Associated Press.
Early the next day, residents found his body in the Orontes River, which cuts through Hama. His throat had been cut away. YouTube footage of his body shows him being put on a bed, his head flopping loosely to show a gaping, bloody wound on the front of his neck where his throat used to be.
“This is a purely criminal act,” said Omar Idilbi, a spokesman for the Local Coordination Committees, which track the protests in Syria. “They executed him.” AP
Lastupdate on : Thu, 28 Jul 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 28 Jul 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 29 Jul 2011 00:00:00 IST
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