In the early days of the protests in Syria 2011 the women and children of the village of Bayda responded to the mass arrest of the men of the village by blockading the main road in direct conflict with the Syrian military.
Syrian women block highway, win back captive men, 2011
The uprising against Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad is a part of a larger wave of campaigns in the Arab world in 2011. Known by some as the "Arab Spring," these movements’ targets included dictatorial figures, Western imperialism, sectarian discourse, militarism, economic conditions, and censorship. The conflict in Syria focused on the 40-year dictatorial rule of the Assad family. Bashar Al-Assad inherited the presidency after his father’s death in 2000.
Conflict, both nonviolent and violent, broke out in Syria in mid-March after an immolation mimicking that of the Tunisian campaign for democracy, and a series of student demonstrations. Most of the demonstrations in the early struggle – about 8-9 months -- were nonviolent in their intentions, but violence was often present as well.
Assad responded in April 2011 with increasing arrests and seemingly semi-random killings throughout the country. As the struggle escalated, both protests and military forces spread into increasingly rural areas populated by smaller villages. In early April, protestors in the coastal city of Baniyas held a large protest that featured the chant inherited from Egypt and Tunisia -- “الشعب يريد إسقاط النظام (The people want the overthrow of the regime!)”
As people in the city and the region escalated their demonstrations, the area experienced a crackdown, complete with checkpoints. The regime targeted the village of Bayda, along the coast, because many of its residents had participated in the protest at Baniyas, and, according to some, the residents were planning their own protest.
Syrian security forces entered Bayda, pulling men and women from their houses and beating them in the town square. The police detained around 350 men – most of the men in the village. At least one person died in the repression.
The next day, hundreds of women and children gathered in the center of Bayda, rallied, and marched to the main coastal highway, where they occupied the center of the road, blocking all traffic between Baniyas and Tartous, both civilian and military.
By the time the marchers reached the highway they had grown to 2,000. The women and children held olive branches and Syrian flags, chanting “We want the men of Bayda,” “We will not be humiliated!” and “Peaceful! Peaceful! Muslims and Christians!”
Shortly, the Syrian military arrived with a tank and began to threaten to shoot. A number of children and male teenagers lay in front of the tank to block its way. The remaining marchers refused to disperse.
During the afternoon, in an apparent attempt to placate the marchers, Syrian authorities released over 100 detainees.
Despite cheers of triumph, the women declared that they would not end their occupation until all of their husbands and sons were released. As of the writing of this case, there is no further information available about the outcome in Bayda. Even if the victory turns out to have been only partial, it was significant in the face of almost overwhelming violence.
The Syrian women are part of the larger movement for democracy in Syria, as well as the Arab Spring. (1)
All4OurCountry. "April-13-11 نساء احرار في بانياس يتكلمون عن اوضاعهم." d13 Apr 2011. Online video clip. Youtube. Accessed May 1 2011.
All4OurCountry. "April-13-11 مظاهرة بانياس النسائية لأخر رجل." d13 Apr 2011. Online video clip. Youtube. Accessed 1 May 2011.
FREEDOM5506. "مظاهرات سلمية لنساء البيضا 13-4-2011 ج3." d13 Apr 2011. Online video clip. Youtube. Accessed 1 May 2011.
islam1tv. "2011-4-13 بانياس - مواجهة الدبابات بصدور عارية - الاربعاء" d13 Apr 2011. Online video clip. Youtube. Accessed 1 May 2011.
Karam, Zeina. "In New Protest, Syrian Women Block Main Highway." Associated Press 13 Apr 2011, Print.
Mackey, Robert. "Syrian Women Demand Release of Detainees." The Lede. The New York Times, 14 Apr 2011. Web. 7 May 2011. .
maher2903. "MPG.1 اعتصام نساء البضة." d13 Apr 2011. Online video clip. Youtube. Accessed 1 May 2011.
nazerof."فيديو٠٠٦٥." d13 Apr 2011. Online video clip. Youtube. Accessed 1 May 2011.
SHAMSNN. "4-13 شام - المرقب - أم تطالب بإبنها المعاق المعتقل." d13 Apr 2011. Online video clip. Youtube. Accessed 1 May 2011.
Stack, Liam, and Zoepf Katherine. "Syria Presses Crackdown in Two Cities on Coast." New York Times 12 Apr 2011, Print.
"Syrian Protests Spread to Aleppo." AlJazeera. AlJazeera, 13 Apr 2011. Web. 18 Apr 2011. .
"Syrian Women Protest Over Mass Arrests." AlJazeera. AlJazeera, 13 Apr 2011. Web. 18 Apr 2011. .
Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy:
Hanna King, 4/25/11
Published for the Global Nonviolent Action Database
1: In May of 2013 both the village of Bayda and the city of Baniyas were the victims of a massacre by the Syrian Army and the pro government National Defence Force paramilitary. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayda_and_Baniyas_massacres