The victims: 'We want democracy, we have had enough of this dictatorship'

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The Independent Online

More than 50 people were shot on the day that members of the Mukhabarat, Basher al-Assad's secret police, opened fire on a demonstration, killing 22 people. Ali, a 31-year-old farmer, was shot in the leg.

Friends took him to the Turkish border from his home at Mirat al-Numan, fearful that the security forces would find and arrest him during their periodic sweeps through the town. "They had to stop the car towards the end because there was no road. They carried me into Turkey, they saved my life," he said, sitting on a hospital bed in the town of Antakya.

Ali is recovering after surgery. He was, he said, very worried about his 19-year-old wife and two young boys, aged three years and 18 months. "I have heard they had fled to the Zawri mountains and living in a cave, that's where all the people from the village went. There is no food there except fruit, they get there water from a stream. So it is very hard. But there is nothing left of my home, they burnt our farm. I do not know what has happened to the animals, there was no one to look after them."

Ali insisted that he and others involved in the protest movements were determined to achieve their goals. "We want democracy, we have had enough of this dictatorship" he said. "We don't want Sharia law, I know they are saying that people like the Muslim Brotherhood influence us, but that is not true. In our community we have Muslims and Christians living together. Muslims and Christians took part in the demonstrations together and we shall stay united. We don't want any foreign intervention."