London, Asharq Al-Awsat – The former leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, Ali Sadr al-Din al-Bayanouni AKA Abu Anas yesterday told Asharq Al-Awsat that reforms in Syria are long overdue, and stressed that there is a popular intifada [uprising] in the Syrian street today. Al-Bayanouni also clarified that he has been calling for serious and genuine reforms for months.
Al-Bayanouni told Asharq Al-Awsat that all the factors which led to revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, are also present in Syria, from the absence of freedom to the presence of tyranny, corruption, poverty, and unemployment, not to mention the arrest of opposition figures and unfulfilled promises of reform.
The former Syrian Muslim Brotherhood leader also commented on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s February interview with the Wall Street Journal in which he said that reforms would require more time, stressing to Asharq Al-Awsat that reforms are long overdue and that the people of Syria have no choice but to rise up against what is happening. Al-Bayanouni stressed that the popular intifada that is taking place in Syria’s cities will not stop until the people’s demands for reform are fulfilled.
As for what these demands are, al-Bayanouni told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the people are demanding the fall of the regime, the abolition of the emergency law that has been in place in Syria since March 1963, the granting of general freedoms, and an end to people being arrested for their political views or affiliations, as well as the abolition of laws and special courts, and the confrontation of corruption in a serious and effective manner.”
The former Syrian Muslim Brotherhood leader stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “the situation in Syria is much worse than the situation in Egypt [prior to the revolution].” He added “at least the Egyptians had media outlets, they could speak and talk about the situation in their country, whilst a mere whisper in Syria is enough for an individual to ensure his own destruction.”
Al-Bayanouni said that “in 1982 former Syrian President Hafiz al-Assad sent forces to the town of Hama to crush the armed wing of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. The Syrian armed forces killed 30,000 people.”
Al-Bayanouni also told Asharq Al-Awsat that dozens of names were added to the missing persons list after the Syrian authorities put down an uprising at the Sednaya prison 3 years ago.
Al-Bayanouni stressed that “all Syrian governorates will revolt, and there is an almost unanimous view that this regime is not viable, as the people do not want it.” He added that the Syrian regime is corrupt down to its core, and stressed that 60 percent of the Syrian population are suffering from poverty, whilst nearly a third of the Syrian workforce is unemployed. Al-Bayanouni said that Syria must rein in its security apparatus, release thousands of political prisoners, and allow freedom of expression, as well as reveal the fate of tens of thousands of political dissidents who disappeared in the 1980s.
On Monday, thousands of people took part in anti-government protests in Dara’a in southern Syria, following the funeral of a youth killed during protests in the city. Syrian troops are currently deployed throughout the city, dealing with the unprecedented protests in this city which lies just 120 km south of Damascus.
The Syrian protest movement was launched on 15 March 2011 via a Facebook group entitled “the Syrian revolution against Bashar al-Assad in 2011” which demanded an end to corruption, humiliation, and poverty.