By D. Parvaz in the Middle East
Amnesty International has just released a report on how Syrian security forces are targeting expat Syrians who have spoken out against the Syrian government, in hopes of silencing them.
The report, titled "Mukhabaraat: Violence and harassment against Syrians abroad and their relatives back home" details just how far reaching the tentacles of the regime are.
Even the parents of expat activists aren't spared. The report details how the parents of one activist [his father is 73 years old, his mother 66] were beaten, left bloody and bruised in Homs because he attended a pro-reform demonstration in front of the White House.
The rights group details the Mukhabarat's activities in North America, Europe and Latin America, documenting over 30 cases of expats being targeted by Syrian security forces, who employ surveillance and open threats in an effort to maintain control over anti-government activists living overseas:
Many have been filmed and orally intimidated while taking part in protests outside Syrian embassies, while some have been threatened, including with death threats, or physically attacked by individuals believed to be connected with the Syrian regime.
The report includes a couple of cases from Canada, where Syrian expats have been quite active in trying to mobilise n their own community as well as spurring the Canadian government into taking diplomatic action against Syria.
I reported on their activities in August, when several activists told me of being threatened, filmed, photographed and intimidated by the Syrian government. In fact, the Syrian government even sought informants before the uprising. One expat, who went by Saleem, told me:
Two years ago, before the revolution, his friend was contacted by someone from the Syrian embassy in Canada, who, he said, approached 'as a friend.' But it was immediately clear that the embassy representative wanted to pressure his friend to inform on other Syrian nationals.
'It's the way they do it. They Syrian embassy gets every one of us to spy on each other. This way, we don't trust each other and we live in fear,' he said.
One activists even told me that there were Lebanese nationals in Canada co-operating with the Syrian government in collecting information on activists in Syria, and that the expat community there was creating a "shame list" of these informants.
You can read Amnesty International's full report here.
Follow D. Parvaz on Twitter: @DParvaz