Filmmakers back pro-democracy protesters in Syria

Wed May 4, 2011 2:01pm EDT
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AMMAN (Reuters) - Scores of international film industry figures have joined Syrian movie makers in signing a declaration denouncing the violent repression of pro-democracy demonstrators.

"Peaceful Syrian citizens are being killed today for their demands of basic rights and liberties," said the declaration, which was published this week on Facebook.

"We call on all filmmakers in the world to contribute to stopping the killing by ... announcing their solidarity with the Syrian people and with their dreams of justice, equality and freedom," the document said.

It was signed by Costa-Gavras from Greece, French-Swiss director Jean-Luc Godard, U.S. writer Howard Rodman and French actors Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche, among hundreds from Europe, the United States and the Middle East.

Among the Syrian signatories were Mohammad Malas and Osama Mohammad, directors who collaborated with late Syrian director Omar Amiralay on films about social and political problems under Syrian Baath Party rule. Director Nabil Maleh, whose films dealt with economic and social marginalization, also signed.

Amiralay died in February, a month before pro-democracy protests for freedom and an end to corruption erupted in Syria.

He said before his death: "I live in a country steadfastly marching on its hooves to its own demise, after it was betrayed by its rulers, deserted by its brainpower and abandoned by its intellectuals."

Human rights groups say Syrian security forces and gunmen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have killed at least 560 civilians in attacks on demonstrators since the protests erupted in the southern city of Deraa six weeks ago.

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, editing by Tim Pearce)