Sick Syrians 'forced to vote' in 'fake' Assad election
Horrifying scenes of disabled, sick, and elderly Syrians dragging themselves to vote in presidential elections appear to match reports that citizens are being intimidated and pressured by the Assad regime to participate in Wednesday's "sham" poll.
Images sent to The New Arab by a Syrian national residing in Europe showed men with no legs dragging themselves across the floor of polling stations to cast their votes. Others were seen wheeled into stations to vote from their hospital beds.
The scenes appeared to corroborate long-standing complaints from Syrians that voters in Syria are coerced into taking part in the sham presidential election.
Some images also appeared to show Syrians appearing at two separate locations to cast their votes.
One image showed a man taking blood from his chest to print a mark on the voting ballot. Another person can be seen daubing their voting slip with blood from a cut, in a macabre display of loyalty to the regime's leader.
Videos showed election monitors filling out ballot papers and handing them back to voters to be placed in ballot boxes.
This is what #Assad’s #Syria elections looked like today:— Qutaiba Idlbi قتيبة ادلبي (@Qidlbi) May 26, 2021
Election officials filled out ballots and handed them back to voters to drop in, leaving no room for “democratic” error pic.twitter.com/MsdRdoxfW9
The election, widely condemned as "fake" and "illegitimate" by the international community, drew in millions of resident and expatriate Syrians from at least 45 cities around the world, according to regime officials.
Syrian activists say some Syrian nationals abroad feel compelled to vote in order to obtain essential paperwork, such as passports, from embassies.
Syria dictator Bashar al-Assad, who came to power after the death of his father Hafez in 2000, is almost certain to win the election, which is seen as a way of rubber-stamping his rule.
He ran against two candidates who were little known before the current election campaign.
Syria's exiled opposition is not taking part and said they will not recognise the result. The Assad regime has also rejected UN efforts to hold free and fair elections in Syria.
In the previous presidential election in 2014, Assad won nearly 90 percent of the vote against candidates who all expressed loyalty to him.
The US, UK, and France have all said they will reject the results of the upcoming elections.
They said they were held "under the sole control of the [Assad] regime" without transparency and that millions of Syrian refugees abroad would not be able to participate.
Syria has been battered by a decade-long, multi-faceted war.