|People attend a demonstration to ask for freedom in Syria
© AFP/File Gabriel Bouys
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States expressed concern Saturday at the Internet shutdown in Syria, warning the embattled regime that attempting to silence protesters “cannot prevent the transition currently taking place.”
“We are deeply concerned by reports that Internet service has been shut down across much of Syria, as have some mobile communication networks,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement as deadly anti-government protests rage across the Middle Eastern nation.
“We condemn any effort to suppress the Syrian people’s exercise of their rights to free expression, assembly, and association,” she added.
Witnesses said Internet lines were cut in Damascus and the coastal city of Latakia on Friday, while a US-based Internet monitoring firm said about two-thirds of the country’s networks had been cut off from access to the Web.
“The Syrian government must understand that attempting to silence its population cannot prevent the transition currently taking place. We believe that even in the face of significant obstacles, the Syrian people will — and should — find a way to make their voices heard,” the top US diplomat said.
She noted how the White House just two weeks ago released its International Strategy for Cyberspace, in which it said states should not arbitrarily deprive or disrupt individuals’ access to the Internet.
“We condemn such shutdowns in the strongest terms,” Clinton said.
Syria has been in the midst of violent upheaval since mid-March, with the outbreak of a revolt against Assad’s autocratic rule.
More than 100,000 mourners turned out on Saturday for the funerals of protesters killed by Syrian security forces in Hama, a rights group said.
The victims were among 53 people killed during anti-regime protests on Friday across Syria, all but five of them in Hama, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
© AFP — Published at Activist Post with license