Syrian activists moved by this month’s increased violence and frustrated by international inaction put forth a call to action Monday in the form of Zero Hour, an agreement among the people of Syria to take to the streets at an undisclosed date and time in one cohesive, collective thrust against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
An undisclosed opposition group opened dialogue with anti-Assad organizations across Syria and abroad in recent weeks, from the Local Coordination Committees of Syria to the Free Syrian Army, garnering support and raising awareness for Zero Hour.
They then released the Zero Hour statement over the weekend, and its English translation on Monday, encouraging men, women and children across Syria to take to the main plazas when the call is put forth, asking those in Syria’s armed forces to defect and join the opposition, and sending a particularly strong message to the movement’s armed opposition, the Free Syrian Army:
Attack them with your rifles from underground and come down upon them from the sky with stones. Instill fear upon their hearts and strike them above their necks and hit them from each building.
Anyone who stands with the regime is your target during this hour, including all airports, police stations, military barracks, the Ministry of Defense, the Central Bank, military colleges and military recruitment centers. Strike the intelligence headquarters and all its branches. Strike State Security Centers and Military Intelligence Agencies. Blow up any bridges that allow any cowardly armored vehicles to pass. Mine the roads that their cars ride upon and make it into rubble.
Make the Zero Hour an hour that causes remorse in Assad and his regime. Make them wish for death.
“It’s going to be very soon,” said Rafif Jouejati, the English-language spokesperson of the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of committees peppered throughout Syria and in neighboring countries dedicated to the opposition movement.
Noting that it was not the LCC that has come up with Zero Hour, and declining, for safety reasons, to name the group that did, Jouejati also said that opposition groups across the board are coalescing behind the idea.
The precise time and date of Zero Hour remains a mystery to the general public, but in light of Assad’s failure to comply with a ceasefire agreement recently reached with the United Nations, Syrian opposition groups are growing increasingly poised to move forward with overt displays of dissent.
One of the groups raising awareness for Zero Hour is Twitter Users for Syria, whose handle @SyriaCampaigns leads two-hour hashtag drives each week on Twitter in order to make topics related to Syria trend globally and grab the world’s attention.
According to one of the group’s founders, Nora Basha, a member of the Syrian opposition in Egypt contacted Twitter Users for Syria with a request to help raise awareness of Zero Hour through one of their Twitter campaigns. In response, Twitter Users for Syria held a Monday campaign this week, using #SyriaZeroHour as its hashtag.
Basha said that support for Zero Hour has begun to spring up on YouTube as well, with one channel highlighting clips of ”some of the most influential, the biggest revolutionaries from Syria, encouraging people to join Zero Hour.”
As organization for Zero Hour continues to ramp up, Syrians and Syrian-Americans have grown increasingly frustrated with international officials’ continued attempts to reason with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. While Assad agrees to a ceasefire on the global stage, events in his nation tell a drastically different story, with well over 1, deaths reported by the LCC in the past ten days.
“It’s escalating not just in the number of dead,” said an exhausted Jouejati on Monday, “but the level of violence and the level of brutality. And some of the methods of torture. The lack of humanity is just so apparent. It’s almost indescribable. Everything is an escalation.”