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Protests in Solidarity with Aleppo Spread Worldwide

Demonstrations in support of civilians beaing heavy shelled by the government in the rebel-held neighborhoods of Aleppo spread to 27 cities across the globe over the weekend.

Written by Zuhour Mahmoud Published on Read time Approx. 5 minutes
A female demonstrator holds a red placard that reads "Save Aleppo" during a solidarity protest for civilians in Aleppo on April 30 in Beirut, Lebanon. Zuhour Mahmoud

Nearly 200 civilians have been killed by Russian-backed government shelling in the opposition-held half of the divided city since April 19, including hospital personnel, rescue workers and children.

It started with a Facebook post. On Friday morning, a Facebook event was created by a group of Syrian activists calling for a worldwide protest against the targeting of civilians who have been subject to continuous government attacks. The organizers hoped the event would generate a widespread response that would persuade global powers to pressure Bashar al-Assad’s government and its Russian allies to stop bombarding civilian areas in rebel-held Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and a place of vital strategic importance to opposition forces and the government alike.

A large opposition flag held during a demonstration in solidarity with Aleppo on May, 1 in Milan, Italy. (Syria Pressure Advocacy Group)

A large opposition flag held during a demonstration in solidarity with Aleppo on May, 1 in Milan, Italy. (Syria Pressure Advocacy Group)

“We started the Facebook event on Friday morning, and by Saturday, people organized protests and sit-ins in multiple cities,” said journalist Sarah Dadouch, a member of the Syria Pressure Advocacy Group (SPAG), who organised the event.

Residents hold a banner that urged Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to turn Facebook red in solidarity with Aleppo on May, 2 in Kafr Nabel, Idlib province, Syria. (Syria Pressure Advocacy Group)

Residents hold a banner that urged Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to turn Facebook red in solidarity with Aleppo on May, 2 in Kafr Nabel, Idlib province, Syria. (Syria Pressure Advocacy Group)

The movement quickly gained momentum as many Syrian and international Facebook users changed their profile pictures to a red square on Friday in support of the page. A Twitter hashtag – #AleppoisBurning – was also created. Within 24 hours of creating the event, some 5,000 people had expressed interest in attending. By Saturday morning, dozens of similar, location-specific pages had sprung up in cities across the world, including New York City, Brussels and Paris.

Demonstrators splashed red paint with the word "Aleppo" on a door sign at the Syrian Conciliate during a solidarity protest on May, 1 in Paris, France. (Syria Pressure Advocacy Group)

Demonstrators splashed red paint with the word “Aleppo” on a door sign at the Syrian Conciliate during a solidarity protest on May, 1 in Paris, France. (Syria Pressure Advocacy Group)

“At first, we created chat rooms and private groups where we discussed the technicalities of the demonstrations, but by Saturday, the event got so big that it was nearly impossible to keep track of it,” she added.

“But despite the large number of events organized, they all fell under one red banner of solidarity for Aleppo.”

Prominent Syrian activist and former football player Abdul Baset al-Sarout led a demonstration in solidarity with Aleppo on April, 30 in Istanbul, Beirut. (Dima Moussa)

Prominent Syrian activist and former football player Abdul Baset al-Sarout led a demonstration in solidarity with Aleppo on April, 30 in Istanbul, Beirut. (Dima Moussa)

SPAG was formed only days earlier by a group of Syrian activists and journalists with the aim to serve as a mediator between Syrian activists worldwide who wanted to plan solidarity demonstrations.

Demonstrators march in solidarity with civilians in Aleppo on May, 1 in Berlin, Germany. (Harald Elzbach)

Demonstrators march in solidarity with civilians in Aleppo on May, 1 in Berlin, Germany. (Harald Elzbach)

The group consisted of Deiaa Dughmoch, Rami Jarrah, Sarah Dadouch, Kousay Hayani, James Sadri and Bissan Fakih.

Demonstrators gather in support of civilians in opposition-held Aleppo on May, 1 in Toronto, Canada. (Syria Pressure Advocacy Group)

Demonstrators gather in support of civilians in opposition-held Aleppo on May, 1 in Toronto, Canada. (Syria Pressure Advocacy Group)

On Saturday morning, SPAG issued a press release addressed to world leaders that outlined the common principles of the protests, including a condemnation of the Assad government for its “war crimes against humanity” and a demand for world powers to offer humanitarian protection to civilians. Demonstrators demanded that government blockades around rebel-held areas be lifted and humanitarian aid be delivered to all besieged areas in Syria.

Actress Rosario Dawson poses next to a demonstrator holding the opposition Syrian flag during a protest in solidarity with Aleppo on May, 1 in Washington D.C., United States. (Syria Press Advocacy Group)

Actress Rosario Dawson poses next to a demonstrator holding the opposition Syrian flag during a protest in solidarity with Aleppo on May, 1 in Washington D.C., United States. (Syria Press Advocacy Group)

Red placards were raised in European cities such as Paris, Berlin, Brussels, Milan, Oslo and Leeds, with many more planned over the next few days.

In the U.S., people gathered in Washington D.C., Chicago, New York, Boston and San Francisco. “Each country organized its own independent event, but they all fell under the umbrella of a worldwide protest,” said Dadouch.

Children stand in front of a destroyed building which was painted red and with "Aleppo is Burning" written on it in Daraya, Syria. (Daraya Media Office)

Children stand in front of a destroyed building which was painted red and with “Aleppo is Burning” written on it in Daraya, Syria. (Daraya Media Office)

Further protests are set to take place this week in Gaza, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Prague, London and Barcelona.

People wear red during a demonstration in solidarity with civilians in Aleppo on May, 1 in Chicago, United States. (Syria Pressure Advocacy Group)

People wear red during a demonstration in solidarity with civilians in Aleppo on May, 1 in Chicago, United States. (Syria Pressure Advocacy Group)

“The reason why this event was successful, unlike others that failed to gain international compassion, is because people are seeing what’s happening in Aleppo, and the brutal way civilians are being killed by the government,” said Dadouch.

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