The Facebook group, The Syrian Revolution 2011, which boasts about 180,000 followers and which has emerged as the organizing force behind the demonstrations that have been demanding “freedom” in Syria called for nationwide strike for this Wednesday May 18 .
But schools, shops and transport were operating normally in Damascus and other cities on Wednesday .
According to a business analyst fear factor was behind the failure of the strike .
He said :” Remember when the facebook group called for protests back in February.. it failed to mobilize demonstrators and very few people showed up because of fear …. but once the fear factor was overcome hundreds of thousands of Syrians hit the street in several major cities. ”
He added :” Most of the protesters have been young people . .., The strike today involves the bread winners and these people are not young …they have been around and are scared of the regime , they have mouths to feed and they know how brutal the regime is .”
“Fear dominates people’s lives, despite poverty, starvation and humiliation ” One merchant in Damascus said during his comment about the failure of the strike .
“Who would dare go on strike and risk losing their business or be targeted by authorities?” said another businessman in Damascus who requested anonymity.
“If anyone pulls down their store shutters they would immediately be spotted and risk losing their livelihood.” He added
The Facebook group published a poster on its Facebook page that shows the picture of a child urging his father to participate in the strike: ” Dad :Your strike guarantees my future ”
“Wednesday will be a day of general strike in Syria,” said the Syrian Revolution 2011 statement posted on its Facebook page
“It will be a day of punishment for the regime by the revolutionaries and the people of free will,” the statement said and added : “Let?s transform this Wednesday into a Friday (the regular day for protests), with mass protests, no schools, no universities, no stores or restaurants open and even no taxis.”
The call for a general strike is in defiance of a government brutal crackdown to crush the pro-democracy protests that started just over 2 months ago in Daraa in southern Syria
Syrian president Bashar al Assad is reportedly determined to crush the revolt, which is the gravest challenge to his family’s 40-year-old ruling dynasty. Assad inherited power from his father in 2000, and has maintained close ties with Iran and Islamic militant groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.
The strike call came amid reports of discovery of a mass grave in Daraa on Monday.
Ammar Qurabi, of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria said on Monday : “The army today allowed residents to venture outside their homes for two hours a day. They discovered a mass grave in the old part of town but authorities immediately cordoned off the area to prevent residents from recovering the bodies, some of which they promised would be handed over later,” he said on the phone from Cairo.
Watch this You Tube video on the excavation of the mass grave