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MIDEAST > Syrian dissidents establish new bloc

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News

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Syrian dissidents Ommar Qurabi (R) and Bekir Atacan seen in this photo.

Syrian dissidents Ommar Qurabi (R) and Bekir Atacan seen in this photo.

İpek Yezdani İpek Yezdani ipek.yezdani@hurriyet.com.tr

Prominent Syrian dissidents have formed a new opposition bloc called the “National Change Movement,” as an alternative to Syrian National Council, or SNC.

The leader of the movement, a prominent human rights activist and former Chairman of the National Organization of Human Rights in Syria, Dr. Ommar Qurabi, said the new bloc represented the true revolutionary forces, and that their aim was to rebuild Syria after the Assad regime is toppled.
“Like many other dissidents, I am not in the SNC. SNC is not the only group that represents the opposition. If somebody says ‘I am the only representative of the Syrian people’ they would be no different from al-Assad’s Baath Party,” Qurabi, who left Syria last April, told Hürriyet Daily News in a recent interview.

Qurabi said they represented all the religious and ethnic groups in Syria and all the minority groups such as Turkmens, Yezidis and Durzis, who couldn’t find a place in the SNC.

“We support the revolution. Our mission is going to start when the al-Assad regime is toppled. We will rebuild the country from the beginning. We are the first Syrian opposition party that is not Islamist,” Qurabi said.

Qurabi also said there was a risk of a civil war in Syria if the current chaotic situation continues. “We haven’t seen truly strong support from the Arab League, the UN, or Turkey until now. We want the international community to create a buffer zone in Syria,” Qurabi said.

The vice chairman of the group is a Syrian Alevi dissident, Vahid Saqir, who has been living in London since 1996.

Saqir claimed there were many Alevis in Syria who want a change in the country, but who are afraid to raise their voices. “We have 80 founders, 400 members, and offices in nine different countries. We will be opening an office in Istanbul soon,” Saqir said.

Bekir Atacan, one of the founders of the movement and a Syrian Turkmen, said: “The SNC has not accepted us as Syrian Turkmen. However, we are highly represented in the Change Movement, just like the other ethnic groups in Syria.”

February/22/2012

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