(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
CAIRO – Syrians poured into the streets on Friday in some of the largest antigovernment protests yet despite the shutdown of much of Syria’s Internet network, which has been crucial to demonstrators’ ability to mobilize and a major source of information for those outside the country.
The crowds protesting the authoritarian rule of President Bashar al-Assad appeared fueled in part by escalating anger about the torture and killing of a 13-year-old boy. Witnesses said protesters in dozens of communities on Friday dedicated their marches to him and other children killed during the uprising.
They defied the continuing brutal crackdown that has killed more than 1,000 people, with hundreds more rounded up in mass arrests.
On Friday, more than 30 protesters were killed in the city of Hamah, according to Rami Abdelrahman, a human rights monitor. That report could not be immediately confirmed.
The boy who was killed, Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, has become a symbol of government oppression after a video of his mutilated body was circulated on YouTube.
We won’t forgive, we will kill the child killer,” chanted protesters in Homs, a center of dissent, according to a witness who gave his name as Mohamed. “We will continue until your end.
Earlier this week, Unicef issued an unusual statement describing “extreme violence against children in Syria.
We are particularly disturbed by the recent video images of children who were arbitrarily detained and suffered torture or ill-treatment during their detention, leading in some cases to their death,” the statement said.
Though Unicef has issued more general warnings about the effects of recent unrest in the Middle East on the lives of children there, the statement is the first time since the Arab Spring began that the organization has called on a specific government to investigate what it called “horrific acts” against children.