Syrian activists reject Assad's call for talks Sunday
Syrian activists staged protests today against the talks, arguing that it's impossible to negotiate with President Bashar al-Assad's regime while it is killing and detaining people.
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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has set Sunday as a day of dialogue with opposition figures, but activists today held protests dubbed a day of "no dialogue" – saying they can't talk with a regime that is still arresting and killing its opposition, the Los Angeles Times reports.
"Kill and arrest by two hands and talk about dialogue with the mouth," said Razan Zaitouneh, a lawyer and human rights activist in Damascus, to the Times. "That will not do any good for sure."
In response to the opposition's resistance to talks, Syrian security forces have stepped up their efforts to detain activists, rounding up many of the young protesters leading demonstrations. One activist living in Europe but in contact with those on the ground said that an estimated 100 people have been arrested in one Damascus suburb alone since Monday and possibly as many as 300 people since the weekend, the Times reports.
Mass arrests have also been reported in Jisr Shughur in the north, elsewhere in the province of Idlib, the city of Deraa in the south and in Homs, the country's third-largest city.
Antiregime efforts are building in Damascus, where low-key protests have bubbled for the last few week. The city is still home to many Assad loyalists and those who have little interest in destabilizing the country, so antigovernment activists have had to use more subdued methods to battle the regime, such as boycotts of brands and products owned by people close to Assad, The Wall Street Journal reports. Some businessmen are donating money to protesters and families of people who have been injured by security forces.
Until recently, Damascus's protests remained small, taking place on the outskirts and in poor inner-city neighborhoods. Now they are growing, being held more frequently, and taking place closer to the central, wealthier part of the city. If protests on the scale seen elsewhere in the country unfolded in Damascus, the largest city in the country, the scales could finally be tipped against Assad, the International Crisis Group told WSJ.