On Sunday, February 26, even as many Syrians went to the polls to vote on the adoption of a new Constitution, government troops continued their bombardment of the opposition stronghold of Homs and other cities that had risen up nearly a year ago to demand democratic reform.
The new constitution is touted by President Bashar al-Assad’s government as a promise of reform and a chance for the people to have a say in how they are governed through a multi-party parliamentary election. Yet even as it paints a bright picture of a democratic future for Syria, the government is mercilessly killing its critics by attacking unarmed civilians with tanks and heavy artillery.
“It’s a phony referendum, and it is going to be used by Assad to justify what he’s doing,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Speaking during an earlier interview, Secretary Clinton asked: “What about the people in Damascus, what about the people in Aleppo? Don’t they know that their fellow Syrian men, women, and children are being slaughtered by their government? What are they going to do about it? When are they going to start pulling the props out from under this illegitimate regime?”
In Egypt and Libya, the revolutionaries of the Arab Spring succeeded in unseating their despotic governments in part because military personnel refused to shoot their own people, and instead recognized the rights of their fellow citizens to peacefully assemble and express their legitimate grievances and aspirations.
“I wish the military that serves that regime would quit staining their own honor and stand up for the rights of the Syrian people. I wish the businesspeople who are still sitting on the fence would realize that they’re going to be so tightly sanctioned that it’s going to be a big price for them to pay. . . . Because it’s not just one man; it is a regime. . . .The regime itself is dishonoring who they are and what they stand for,” said Secretary Clinton.
“We see immense human suffering that is heartbreaking and a stain on the honor of those security forces who are doing it.”