From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Syrian reformers reject foreign help
Tuesday 28 June 2011
by Tom Mellen
After a consultative meeting in a Damascus hotel on Monday the 200-odd participants released a joint statement declaring their support for the “popular uprising seeking a peaceful transition to a democratic, civil and pluralistic state.”
The gathering of opposition figures, which was sanctioned by the governing National Progressive Front, called for an immediate end to the crackdown and the army’s withdrawal from towns and villages.
It also called for an independent committee to investigate the killings of Syrian citizens and soldiers, the release of all political prisoners, and the right to peaceful protests without the government’s prior approval.
“The only salvation is through a peaceful political transformation,” Syrian scholar Munther Khaddam told the conference.
“The alternative to that is the destruction of Syrian society.”
Georgette Attiya, a university professor attending the meeting, added: “No one wants to harm the country – we want reforms.”
The meeting was organised in the wake of President Bashar al-Assad’s speech last week, in which he acknowledged that over three months of uprisings were fuelled by legitimate concerns and called on all citizens to engage in a national dialogue to address the issue.
The recently formed National Dialogue Body has set July 10 as the date for convening the consultative meeting, which aims to hammer out constitutional amendments – including possible changes to Article 8 of the Syrian constitution, which states that “the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party leads the state and society.”
Syria‘s Communist Party has warned against any move that would undermine the developing country’s “distinct role as a supporter of anti-imperialist resistance movements in the region.”
The party, which is a member of Syria’s governing front, is calling for a reinvigoration of economic planning mechanisms and more robust restrictions on the emerging “social market economy,” which, it says, has “led to increased polarisation in society, the great impoverishment of hard-working people and severe pressure on production and producers.”
The government’s shift towards neoliberal economic policies in recent years has “formed the suitable soil of reactionary incitement.”
Egypt’s junta has acknowledged carrying out so-called virginity tests on female protesters: here.
Victory for Egypt’s workers’ movement as leading trade unionist wins court case: here.
The “rebels” in Misrata in Libya have driven out the entire Black population of the city, according to a chilling story in The Wall Street Journal today under the headline Libya City Torn by Tribal Feud”: here.