Amman, Jordan – As expatriate voting began for the presidential elections on Wednesday, Syrians casting their ballots at their embassy in Amman appeared divided over the election.
While some expressed support for President Bashar al-Assad, pro-revolution supporters protested near the embassy.
Men, women and children, carrying the Syrian flag, queued in line and were searched before entering the embassy premises.
Most voters said they were confident that Assad will win the elections. “We are here to give our voices to our president [Assad] as none [other] deserves to rule Syria,” said 48-year-old Khaled Fawaz, who fled the violence by “terrorists” in Douma. “I have farms and fields back in Syria. But these terrorists burn them and destroyed all I have,” he added.
According to Jordanian official figures, Jordan hosts 1.3 million Syrians since the beginning of the war in 2011, some 600,000 of them are registered as refugees with UNHCR.
According to information obtained from the expelled Syrian ambassador’s facebook page, only people over 18 and holders of Syrian documents such as passport or ID are allowed to cast their vote.
Voters had to register ahead of time either in person or by fax or email, by sending their documents during a week-long registration period.
Al Jazeera was denied access to the embassy site and could not obtain any information to assess the level of voter turnout.
Just across the street, fifty metres away from the embassy, pro-revolution chants could be heard, where scores of anti-regime Syrians protested.
Carrying the Syrian opposition flag, they danced and chanted “Death is better than humiliation,” and “God curse your soul Hafiz,” and “No to bloody elections.” “It is a play and a joke,” said 40-year-old Um Saleh who refrained from giving her full name. “We know it is a done deal already and will not vote for the criminal Bashar,” she added.
Another protester, Hadeel Mahmoud, said she will not vote since she would not trust that it is safe to leave the embassy. “Two of my brothers are missing in Syria and we are all wanted for going on peaceful protests calling for freedom,” said the 25-year-old who covered her face with Syria’s opposition flag.
Security and gendarmerie forces were present around the embassy neighbourhood, which is located right across from the embassy of Saudi Arabia, an ally of Jordan.
The election is taking place just two days after diplomatic tension between Syria and Jordan broke out when Jordanian authorities expelled the Syrian ambassador on the basis of “insulting” the kingdom.
A statement by Mohammad Moumani, Jordan’s minister of media information, said that expelling the ambassador did not mean closing down the embassy, and that “according to international norms Syria could hold elections at its embassy in Amman.”
According to information obtained from the expelled Syrian ambassador’s Facebook page, only people over 18 and holders of Syrian documents, such as passport or ID, are allowed to cast their vote. Voters had to register ahead of time either in person or by fax or email by sending their documents during a week-long registration period.
I am definitely voting for our leader, the only leader Bashar al-Assad. He is fighting these gangs. They are murdering people and terrorising them, especially children and women. I was kidnapped by these groups and I just want them to get out of Syria.
I foresee hope in the elections only if it is under his rule. We want a free Arab Syria the way it used be: Safe and free from gangs.
I voted for the first time in my life and my vote is going for he who deserves it; our President Bashar al-Assad. He built schools for us, and gave us free access to education. No Arab leader did to their people what he did to us. We do not want gangs to teach us what Islam is.
I want the elections to bring back our free Syria.
|Abdul Jaleel Shakaeel|
I am here to say No for these elections.
Syrian people have become displaced inside and outside Syria. Thousands have died of bloodshed and starvation, and who is responsible for all of that? We know it is the winner: Bashar al-Assad. We want to let the world know about what Syrians are experiencing inside and outside Syria.
Our hopes are not about what elections would bring. Our hopes are based on values of the revolution, which will end the Syrian regime and create a democratic Syria.
I am here to hold the Syrian freedom flag, which will rise in Syria one day I am sure.
We are not participating in these elections because they do not represent us. Each one voting for Bashar is creating more bloodshed. An embassy that threatens its people, is not working for its people. Syria is only free when Bashar is gone. He will win these elections we know, but he will not win at the end. Our revolution will.