Archive for the ‘Grassroots Activism’ Category

Not looking and not seen doesn't mean that one also refrains from making judgment

Not looking and not seeing doesn’t mean that one also refrains from making judgment


But don’t you see that the whole trouble lies here? In words, words. Each one of us has within him a whole world of things, each man of us his own special world. And how can we ever come to an understanding if I put in the words I utter the sense and value of things as I see them; while you who listen to me must inevitably translate them according to the conception of things each one of you has within himself. We think we understand each other, but we never really do.”

― Luigi Pirandello, Six Characters In Search of an Author

Humans can be very strange creatures. Strange because we seek “the latest news” but are in practice seeking nothing more than the emotional-intellectual comfort that comes with the confirmation of our beliefs. We all “know” things, the news just confirms to us that our convictions are actually “right” or even that they are “the truth”. We humans seem to be avid consumers of a sort of passion play where the characters represented fit their roles and repeat them endlessly. We are drawn to the sources we know are going to give us answers that fit our worldview, our way of thinking, and we generally aren’t questioning their content, much less their framing of it.

This desire to fulfil this need is particularly true when we are faced with events that we have little knowledge about – events that are so far from us physically and mentally that we run to our comfort zone to explain to us how we should feel about said events. The problem is compounded as we turn to these sources again and again, sources which tell us that they are keeping us informed, lulling us into the idea that we know and are aware, when in fact we do not know and we are not aware. This creates the problem of cognitive dissonance, which is the illusion of believing that we know something when in fact we do not have the knowledge or information to process events unfamiliar to us.

So, how do we think? We often tend to think categorically. It is the way that verbal communication is taught at a primary level, so it lasts a lifetime. We all know how much time and effort can be saved once you divide the world into convenient categories of good/bad, black/white, us/them, etc. Therefore, the news source or information that one seeks already fits neatly into this paradigm, and in addition, it is one that more often than not is culturally familiar. This is not to say that there is no truth to some binary thinking. Unadulterated extremes indeed do exist, and at times we are even aware of what they are because the parameters to judge them are clear, but to attribute a value judgment to something, one has to know its true nature. One has to go beneath the surface. Subjectivity can’t be avoided because of our human nature, but it would help if we knew more facts than we think we do!


Because they lie. But does that mean the “alternative” media tells the truth? No.

When thinking out of the box is just thinking in a different box

Many people will not watch TV because they are diffident about what the corporate media is telling them. It’s in fact correct and reasonable to mistrust something that tells you to buy what you don’t need with money you haven’t got and makes you feel miserable for that feeling of consumerist desire that TV implants along with its programming. Some who don’t watch TV because they are convinced it is “the idiot box” that creates conformity around falsehood at any rate have to obtain their information from someplace, and quite a few of them reject the Mainstream Media (MSM) because they attribute to it the same faults as TV, ie, that it peddles lies and that they want to “think independently” and “think out of the box”. This is why they tend to avoid newspapers or Internet sites that are connected with any corporate ownership, and most of the time that leads them to “alternative” news. Alternative news has its own pundits, its own worldview and its own pecking order of news analysis that runs the gamut from political correctness to conspiracy theory (and everything else in between). But it can be just as equally full of lies, rumour, false ideology as the corporate media. Thinking out of the box in this case isn’t happening, it’s just that the box might not be made on a production line and it looks more creative. And, as far as the alternative media goes on Syria, their box has been pretty badly distorted most of the time.

In an effort to be the alternative source on Syria, many outlets have taken to making predictions and speculations out of context. These predictions and speculations based on current events in no way offer a comprehensive view of the situation, thus leaving us with definitions of the conflict ranging from “civil war” to “Jihad” or “holy war” in Syria. Furthermore, these alternative outlets often ignore the context in which the Syrian revolution is occurring – including both historical context and regional context.  Finally, the gravest error may be that many of them then turn to an extremist explanation on either end of the spectrum, some exaggerating to the point of lying to get the attention of the MSM.

Sites that we came to know and trust for their coverage of the invasion of Iraq have for the most part, and with the stellar exception of Uruknet, been repeating as if by rote the same rhetoric (then, we didn’t call it rhetoric, because it made perfect sense with the objective facts on the ground) they used for making the public reject any intervention in Iraq, but this time they are transferring it to Syria. Virtually ignoring the fact that the situation is entirely different in almost every essential way, they dust out the anti-war slogans. The only problem is, they are not so much anti-war as they against THIS war, more specifically, against any kind of opposition to Assad, and therefore, they are anti-revolution. Reactionaries and counter-revolutionaries: being labelled by those words should chill their spines, but the consumers of these sites instead insist upon remaining virginal in their “defiance” and they repeat blatant lies such as that of there being no revolution in Syria, just a Western-based plan for take-over of Syria.

Suspending belief/suspending the moral compass

They used to say that seeing is believing, that you should always suspend your belief until you had evidence, and the best kind was physical evidence, visual proof. In the case of the Syrian revolution, first “they” (the counter-revolutionaries who read the alternative media a-critically) said, “we need proof” (that there is unhappiness in Syria). So they saw protests. Dozens of protests just like in all the other countries in the region were having and largely for the same reasons. But this was not to be trusted.

Syria, in the collective imagination of the alternative media progressive had always been “a good guy” for the mere virtue that “the West” had it on a rogue list. Now, rogue lists are ridiculous at best, especially if those paying the price are not the leaders of those nations, and if the compiler of the list has invaded nations in a serial way, but paying the price are the people who face restrictions because they are citizens of those nations, so it is criminal at worst. But to turn Syria into an “anti-Imperialist paradise” also would require evidence to demonstrate such a claim… which has not been forthcoming. Yet… there was no believing the videos making their way out, they were just not taken into consideration, no matter that there were hundreds of thousands of them and they certainly could not continue to be labelled as creations of a film studio in Doha as many “anti-Imperialist pundits” were saying, taking the cue from the regime prompts.

But, the fact that there had been even less protests over the decades than places like Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon actually can serve to give an idea of how bad things really were in Syria before the revolution. There was a prohibition of providing evidence of the massacres, torture chambers, arbitrary detention and massive limitations on human rights. The truth and facts about life in Syria under Assad were kept well under wraps. That was because for a Syrian to even speak about all of this, inside Syria meant disappearance, torture or death and outside Syria meant the possibility of never returning home, even for a visit. It was one of those situations of “you wash the dirty laundry in the home” on a monumental scale. It is really not the fault of the consumers of alternative media if they believed the lies, all of us who rejected the “rogue state” way of thinking did that. But we weren’t entirely to blame, we didn’t have that much chance of knowing any differently. We’ve all signed petitions for the release of bloggers, but the actual EXTENT of the silencing of internal dissent was not fully understood. There was no way to understand it. The regime was so repressive that this information could NOT get out “unpunished”.

Then, things changed. It took the courageous actions of children to wake up what had been 40 years of slumber induced by severe repression and humiliation at the hands of the Assad family. People found their courage and voices and started to take to the streets in Syria, bloggers who alluded to things and kept their criticisms to complaints about the lack of liberation of occupied Golan, were taking pictures, filming events, showing visual evidence of what they had with great difficulty gotten out there “before”. Then, it wasn’t just bloggers anymore. Anyone who happened to have a cell phone was filming what was happening in every part of Syria, in a constantly growing way, and evidence of the oppression, the repression and the revolution were available free of charge and without any kind of filter, be it the MSM or the Alternative media.

But what happened? The videos were STILL not good enough, the evidence was still not convincing enough to override a fiery speech by Assad that said he was the last resistant figure to the threat of the West and Israel. And he found defenders in high places who would label him as the last great Arab leader, rhetoric not that different from the hagiography in Syrian media, as unearthed by Azmi Bishara which literally states:

“Love sprung out from Assad’s heart to water the earth of the deserving periphery of the country, reaching those who, one hopes, can still understand the language of love. He anointed his words with the tears of the bereaved orphans and widows, bowing before their sacrifices and paying homage to their selflessness. His love flowed into the mosques, where the devout were treated to a mix of the heart and the mind. …”

“Yet it was not love alone, but he his wrath erupted, burning away his enemies who do not understand the language of love … The President of Syria has made explicitly clear that the intention is no longer to chase terrorist groups from one area only for them to regroup in another. Rather, the aim now is to destroy these groups. Full stop.”

The Syrian version of The Dear Leader, one must presume.

A supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carrying his image, with words written on her face that reads in Arabic ''Bashar I love you'', takes part in a rally to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the foundation of the Baath Party, at al-Sabaa Bahrat square in Damascus April 7, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Khaled al-Hariri

A supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carrying his image, with words written on her face that reads in Arabic ”Bashar I love you”, takes part in a rally to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the foundation of the Baath Party, at al-Sabaa Bahrat square in Damascus April 7, 2012.
Credit: Reuters/Khaled al-Hariri

Yet, the true problem is not only that they see and they refuse to believe, but they have come up with reasons for why Assad has to be “backed”.  They insist that the revolution is fake, (as if they know a real one!) and that it’s simply masses (millions!) who are blindly saying the slogans that their “prompters” in (take your pick) Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the NATO, the United States, (as if they are interchangeable and have the same agendas!) have prepared for them. They forget the adage that is a truism for activism regarding Palestine/Iraq/Afghanistan:  if one is armed with a just cause, there is no need to lie, or even to exaggerate. The facts of things alone, the evidence of misery, of oppression, of suffering and struggle are sufficient and require no justification, just a moral compass that is still working.

One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter

The problem that was pointed out at the beginning of this essay is that language and culture are the crux of understanding the problem and getting to the bottom of the truth, and then acting in a consistent and morally viable way. The average person reading this will have English as his or her first language, will live in a Western country and will be familiar with the rhetoric of the dominant culture. That means that the person reading this will already know that calling one a terrorist is condemning his cause and considering its perpetrator anathema. We are all fully aware that some political parties are systematically labelled and blacklisted by the USA and Israel as “terrorist organisations”, despite the fact that they have even been victorious in elections in Palestine that were deemed legitimate by the overseeing bodies of the UN. We have rejected those labels because our “moral compass” understood that they were created in a climate of oppression, were aimed at liberating occupied lands and they restrict their operations to military ones. We activists consider them as freedom fighters and there is no need to defend them or their purposes, though we are still entitled to critically appraise their actions as serving the ends of the cause or falling into political party dormancy.

Likewise, it is easy to refer to the party that uses a car bomb in a city as a terrorist, and even to accept the (later almost always debunked) Syrian regime’s claims that it is work of the opposition (when they are being nice they call them rebels, but most of the time they are translated in even the most liberal-radical news sources as “terrorists”, when they don’t call them “rats”.) Yet, it is the armed opposition, the Free Syrian Army and then the constellation of armed forces alone who are called terrorists when they are defending a liberated town, or what remains of it after the shelling and armoured tanks finally roll back out to fill themselves with more lethal shells. Why are the alternative left and anti-imperialists information sources not referring to air strikes over Aleppo and other towns and cities as terrorism? Why do they seem to ignore bodies of women, children and men of all ages with their throats slit and their hands tied when it is clear beyond all doubt that the perpetrators of these acts (crimes) are either the “regular” army or the armed thugs known as “Shabbiha”? Does the blood of these victims cry less vendetta because the hand holding the knife works for the “president”?

Misunderstanding of these words is one of the major errors of the pundits and the media.

Misunderstanding of these words is one of the major errors of the pundits and the media.

Otherness and Understanding

Resistance is not a new concept in the Middle East. The region has had its share of both external and internal leadership imposed on the masses. Syria is no exception. In 1920, the French colonised the country of Syria and remained there until 1946, when Syria regained its full independence. In the first battle for independence in 1925, Sunnis, Druze and Christians coordinated to oppose French rule and mistreatment of segments of the population. While the revolt was eventually put down, it is often remembered with fondness for the ideals it stood for, and it paved the way for the battle for full independence.

In between independence from France and the Assad family rule, there were several coups in Syria. In 1970, a new family came to power – the Assad family. This family was to spend over 40 years controlling the lives of Syrians – their social gatherings, their speech, their religiosity, their mode of dress and their economy. The old lessons of resistance from the days of French rule had been taken to the grave but were suddenly recalled by the Syrian people when the regime arrested and tortured school boys for writing, “The people want the fall of the regime,” on their school’s wall in March 2010. Syrians in the Dar’aa Province mobilised in peaceful protests, often calling for “freedom,” “isqat annithaam” (the fall of the regime), justice, and an end to corruption. Other provinces began to follow suit, mobilising in mass protests when regime forces responded to the peaceful uprising in Dar’aa with bullets, arrests and eventually shells.

Thousands of these demonstrations, all peaceful, are documented by hours and hours of video footage on YouTube. Two years after the uprising, the footage continues to uploaded by activists on a daily basis, with most demonstrations mobilising on Fridays. Of course, because most of the signs and chants are in English, this often makes non-Arabic speakers weary, particularly if they hear the demonstrators chant the words made famous by Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the U.S. Army psychologist accused of killing 13 people in an attack on Fort Hood. These two words are Allahu Akbar – literally translated as “God is Most Great.” While Major Hasan is accused of shouting these words during the attack, many non-Arabic speakers do not realise that this phrase is actually very multi-dimensional and, more importantly, a phrase that has been in existence for thousands of years before Major Hasan came into the picture.

In the Syrian demonstrations, when Allahu Akbar is chanted, it can range from signifying that the protestors feel that God is the Most Almighty to serving as a prayer for help from God. The phrase is often very contextual – for example, in the videos where the Assad regime has perpetrated some sort of attack on civilians, the phrase signifies a plea to God – that God is greater than all of the evil happening in Syria. In demonstrations supporting freedom and justice, the phrase will often signify triumph and a vow to persevere, with God’s power, in the struggle for freedom. Yet many, from seasoned journalists to “instant book pundits” have defined this phrase as the battle cry of the “religious war” and thus have painted the entire revolution with the same brush, lacking even the most basic understanding of what is going on or what protestors mean when they use the phrase. Furthermore, they ignore the rest of the innovative words being written, created and chanted by the Syrian people and focus on this one phrase, yet another example of refusing to come to an understanding based on facts and knowledge rather than personal comfort and preconceptions.

Understanding the culture and language of “the other” is always a prerequisite for legibility of their message, in any media/medium. But if you don’t know the language, roll with the emotion and understand where the players are coming from. We are so embedded in our own cultures, that we fail to realise that we are unable to decipher what we think is obvious. An example comes to mind of a classic film. Fellini’s “8 ½” is about a filmmaker going through a terrible creativity block. He moves from scene to scene attempting to overcome it. Fellini is a poet, Marcello Mastroianni is an artist, both of them able to break through the language barrier and communicate this situation and the sentiments involved. In fact, this film is loved by many people who don’t know any Italian. However, it is a product of its culture and language and only an Italian speaker would truly understand the final, moving and amusing scene, where everyone in the film magically appears and partly under direction and partly spontaneously, simply start to go in a massive “ring around the Rosie”, eventually involving the director who up to that moment couldn’t figure out how to get back to his work. It is five or so minutes of circus music and movement.

To an Italian, what everyone is doing is encouraging him to “girare” (go around in a circle), which is the Italian word for “filming”. The metaphor and its poetry and beauty doesn’t need to be explained to an Italian, but it would escape others, who see the beauty but don’t quite understand it because it is outside of their cultural reference. So, what is this example saying? That we can’t know all the cultural cues that come to us by the messages (verbal, visual and so on) during the Syrian revolution unless we are Syrians or have a deep and correct exposure to them, far removed from our OWN filters. We have to be careful, if we can’t be knowledgeable, and in all cases, we have to be SENSITIVE. We can see and on a human level sympathise with the human suffering in Syria right now. Ignoring it or replacing it with the wrong frame or with our own frame is never going to be of service of truth and justice, and isn’t that what we are into activism for in the first place?


WRITTEN BY ASMAE DACHAN, translated by Mary Rizzo
Hundreds of Syrians and supporters of the Syrian cause took to the streets of Rome on 13 April to say “We’ve had enough of the massacre perpetrated by the Assad regime in front of the indifference of the world”. They came in coaches, trains and cars; the young and the old, women, children, entire families who live in various cities of Italy, who in Syria have families and loved ones living in the cities under siege.

Answering the appeal of the organisers were coaches full of people from Verona to Naples: it was a presence that was important for the reasons of the march more so than for the numbers of people. The vision for those in Piazza dell’Esquilino where the march started, was an impressive one: a Syrian flag measuring 60 metres opened the march, followed by an orderly and proud stream of people who, despite the fatigue and stress of over two years of protests and activism to fight the repression their loved ones are subject to, has never betrayed its pacific nature or its ideals.

The threats and the intimidating acts coming from the supporters of the Syrian dictator in Italy that had preceded this march did not dissuade anyone. The cherrybomb that they exploded in a parallel street to the square where the marchers gathered served no purpose. It was just a loud bang that had caused the law enforcement officers to intervene immediately, but it did not shake those present, in deep empathy with their people who every day must deal with showers of real bombs.

Nor did the presence of the militants of the extreme right movement of Casa Pound, above street level and armed with stones and regime flags serve any purpose. In fact, they folded up their flags and broke up their own gathering when the officers neared them for identification. In their presence, the protesters chanted an impassioned “Assassins, assassins, keep your hands off of our children”. The march wound its way through the central streets of the capital, where hundreds of tourists and Romans applauded and were united to show their human solidarity.

Breaking the wall of silence that engulfs Syria, indeed, is one of the priorities of activism outside Syria, and the reason for which this latest protest by the Syrian community in Italy had been called. Among the participating associations were: CNS Italia, Onsur, Ossmei, Associazione 3 febbraio, Assopace SessaAurunca and others.

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Recently, a new site has started which is a platform for video debates on various controversial issues. The owner of the site finds persons on Facebook who are active in discussing the matter, and sets up an hour-long debate which then will be uploaded to You Tube so that others can watch it after it is over. One of the topics is Syria. Originally, the title of the room where those debates take place was “Civil War In Syria” and the photo that accompanies it is of Assad and some of his high-ranking officers. Today, the photo still is there, but the title reads “Revolution in Syria”. I suppose this must be a compromise for each of the factions.

I had been invited to debate by the owner of the site, and participated in my first discussion. Then I was invited to participate in another one, but during it, after 45 minutes, the opponent declared he was having some internet problems, was not satisfied with the audio and he did not want what we recorded uploaded but wanted a new debate the next week. We both agreed and it was rescheduled.

We had the debate, which you can watch here, to make all the judgments for yourselves on how it unfolded.

A few days later, Ghassan continued the private message between the site owner and me, addressing me alone and asking for a “re-match”. I wrote that I do not schedule the debates, so he would have to talk to the owner about it. A LONG discussion ensued, and within this conversation, you will see EXACTLY how the Pro-Assad faction twists facts even when it is in front of their eyes, all in a day’s work!

However, I could have kept all of their twisting to myself, sparing them the embarassment, but I was encouraged to disclose by this Facebook post and discussion (CLICK on the picture to enlarge it):

intibah 1

intibah 2

Therefore, for your entertainment and information, see for yourselves the mechanisms of the Pro Assad side, how facts and truth, even with evidence in front of their eyes, get distorted and twisted.

  • Conversation started 17 February
  • Ghassan Kadi

    Hi Guys. Can we reschedule this for same time next week?

  • 21 February
  • Max Ringelheim

    Hey Ghassan and Mary are we still all good for a Vonvo discussion this Sunday at 4PM EST which is 10PM for you Mary and 9PM for you Ghassan….??

  • Mary Hassan Ali Rizzo

    that would be 11 PM for Lebanon, no?

  • Mary Hassan Ali Rizzo

    or 9 in Rome and 10 in Lebanon, correct?

  • Max Ringelheim

    4PM EST is 10PM in Rome and Idk if Ghassan is speaking from Lebanon not entirely sure….for you the time is 10pm Sunday night

  • Max Ringelheim

    great so lets see if Ghassan can confirm also and we will be all set….

  • Ghassan Kadi

    Hi all. As I keep saying Max, this time slot suits me just fine. Sunday 4PM EST (US). Will there be other speakers othr than Mary and me?

  • Max Ringelheim

    possibly working on that now.

  • 22 February
  • Max Ringelheim

    Reem Alhariri Connor will be participating in the discussion as well

  • 22 February
  • 25 February
  • Ghassan Kadi

    Max what I would really like is to have a one on one with Mary. After all, Reem had little to say apart from deviating the discussion further.

    Mary, you raised many groundless points and unsubstantiated matters into the discussion, needeless to say that when you realized that you were losing the debate, you have committed a number of grave errors, which again reveal your total lack of knowledge of the history of the area. One good example was your mention to Tal Al-Zaatar massacre, blaming it on Assad, though it happened 3 months before Syrian forces entered Lebanon. If you want to know the truth behind those issues, let’s debate them one on one.

    I may not be available next Sunday, but I should be fine for the one after.

  • 25 February
  • Mary Hassan Ali Rizzo

    odd, i Never for one second thought I was losing the debate!

  • 25 February
  • Ghassan Kadi

    I am not here to attack your ego Mary and/or give it the tap on the shoulder. The question is that though you have little to say, the setting of the first failed discussion we had and the time allocations we had in the 2nd discussion, you accused me of not answering your questions. I want to answer your questions, though I normally do not get into details. This is your call Max.

  • 26 February
  • Mary Hassan Ali Rizzo

    Ghassan, i don’t think you GET IT! it is not about you or me, no matter how many times you wish to deflect the discourse into a “personal direction”, without EVER revealing where you actually come from, what you do, who you are. For god’s sake, you do not show your face or give your real name, and yet you spend time to provide your assessments of your opponents as if from atop some pulpit!

    it is about you going continually off the topic and rather than debate the current issues that might actually interest people, you want to provide your version of a history lesson with the “Defiant Narrative”. It is clear that this is the sole argument that you have, and in all sincerity, it has been adequately responded to by Reem and myself.

  • Ghassan Kadi

    Mary, on one hand you accuse me of taking a “personal direction” and then you put my identity/location etc… as important issues. I wonder if you see the contradiction.

    The reason I “hide” myself is to avert danger. I have just received the news that a cousin of mine got killed in the Homs region for similar reasons, and I do not intend to take this path, at least not deliberately.

    As I said to you in the interview Mary, I know that you are well-intentioned, by very highly misled, and your work is causing harm to my country and I am prepared to do all that is in my power to change the minds of people like yourself because it is the combined efforts of the pro rebelion who want to bring in NATO no flight zone (and we know what this meant in Lybia). We just want the world to get its hands off Syria, and you would be doing the same if the whole world was conspiring to drag Italy into oblivion.

    If you are prepared to take the “challenge”, then you are welcome, and if you don’t, it would be entirely your decision to be seen as running and hiding. This is not about inflaming your ego and persuading you into a debate, but I just feel that somehow we perhaps “need” to end this debate, albeit in agreeing to disagree, and not by leaving certain issues un-discussed.

  • Mary Hassan Ali Rizzo

    you have some issues, dear Ghassan, and one of them is your insistence on interpreting the intentions/sentiments of your adversaries simply by projecting your own ideas. When someone “loses” a debate or any sort of challenge, they traditionally are in the position of asking for a rematch. This is clear around the entire world, and while you are convinced that I was fretting because of losing, despite my expressing to you that I did not feel for one moment that either Reem or I were “losing”, quite the opposite in fact! You lost your temper and demanded double time, went emotionally over the edge when “interrupted”, yet insisted that you yourself could continue to interrupt. I do not consider you a debate partner that respects those you are in the conversation with, and find that you have a tendency to gatekeep that inhibits free discourse, which is why I am obligated to point it out to you and to anyone listening.

  • Ghassan Kadi

    I am not asking for a re-match. I am challenging you to finish what we have started. There is a great difference. If you are so confident that you have won the debate, should be looking forward to “smash” me some more, so what are you so worried about ?

  • Mary Hassan Ali Rizzo

    i am worried about nothing. You seem to fancy yourself as some sort of guru, this I find frankly kind of comical, and the way you dismissed the ONLY syrian on the discussion is evidence enough that you do not LISTEN, but you simply pummel your own narrative. You have asked for a rematch, and I don’t see any ground rules to make certain you keep civil and do not break out shouting or to keep the argument on the topic rather than veering off into tangents.

  • Ghassan Kadi

    Your psychoanalysis of me Mary does not intimidate me. You are simply worried to continue and you are too scared to go one on one. Plain and simple. And BTW, I am Syrian too. As Lebanese, I am a Syrian whether colonialists define me this way or not.

  • Mary Hassan Ali Rizzo

    I am not psychoanalysing you, nor am I intimidating you. You seem to have great difficulty reading or listening to what others write or state without projecting something on top of that, as well as “describing” their mental state or their emotions. This is something that you could work on if you wish to continue to debate others as an equal!

  • Ghassan Kadi

    Mary please let us cut this out. It is psychoanalysis of some sorts. Let us not split hairs please. The bottom line is what matters. Do you want to finish this discussion on one-on-one basis? Yes or no.

  • Mary Hassan Ali Rizzo

    Given that you have dragged Max into this, NOT without reason – on the contrary, in an effort to exert some pressure on me and given that Max has said no word at all (rightfully, he is just the “organiser/moderator”), throwing the ball in my court isn’t working, as I’m not a kid and I don’t see things as personal challenges, where I have to be proven the ‘winner’ of anything. Whether we agree on what is happening in Syria or not, the fact that remains and we both agree on is that people are being killed (regardless whose side they’re on) and when the factor ‘human life’ enters, I don’t play games by accepting or declining challenges. My points of view are clear, whoever likes them, fine, whoever doesn’t like them, that’s again fine.
    I feel confident about myself and I feel confident that I’m on the right side of history and I’d be more than happy to express my views, whenever I’m invited to do so, either on a public forum like vonvo or in other venues.
    If the organisers/moderators of Vonvo wish to arrange for a discussion about Syria and if THEY want to invite me, I’d be more than glad to participate. My participation is NOT subject to who the other participants are, but rather the topic. I have been invited by Vonvo twice and accepted the invitation, however it is not me who has asked for these debates to take place. It was the other way around. Vonvo decides, they organise them, they are the ones who reached me and I accepted.
    Therefore, kindly refrain yourself from writing around on FB that you are challenging me for another debate and I’m playing “tough” because you know very well that this is not the case and remember my Dear Ghassan, that I never speak without proof and I remind you of the famous quote “verba volant, scripta manent”.
    For the last time, please stop sending me PMs asking me for another debate. It is not up to me. I have proven that I have no problem whatsoever to participate with anyone in discussions, therefore my actions speak louder than words. If Vonvo decides to have another debate and if they want me to be one of the speakers, I’m more than happy to hear from THEM and if I’m available on the scheduled date/time, then I’ll accept their invitation.
    I however will expose attempts at gatekeeping, will be less tolerant of rudeness and sudden attempts to modify the rules by any of the participants, and any “opponent” should bear in mind that rules do not get created during an encounter, such as double time allotments and the permission of one party to interrupt but the other parties must wait five minutes and at times more, when the discussion has taken different tangents.

  • Ghassan Kadi

    Mary, from previous experienced with you it was always you who used the offensive language against me on FB and not the othe way around. And whe we had a discussion on FB, you decided to end it, not me

    Yes, it is up to Vonvo York agree to organize the meeting, but it is up to you to accept it decline. And if you remember correctly, this whole debate was my idea in the first place any way

    And speaking of changing rules Mary, take this up with Max because he agrees that when 2 are against 1, then the 1 should have enough time and opportunity to respond to both

    It is clear that you are avoiding a one on one debate. I don’t blame you.

  • 26 February
  • Mary Hassan Ali Rizzo

    Ghassan, it’s not necessary to continue to persevere with analysis of my motivations and mental state, as you are entirely off the track, and no matter what I would say, you would persist in your own expression of patently erroneous statements!
    Ghassan, I have debated persons for YEARS and chaired panels where there were actually adversaries who were much more “threatening” than you are. I have also debated in other venues and even on vonvo before, so I don’t understand why you insist you are extending some kind of rematch to me, who you erroneously persist in considering as “me avoiding you”. You are not the issue. I debate about Syria, you are totally irrelevant to any participation of mine in a debate about Syria, though you seem to be keen on it with great persistence. Should I feel “honoured”?
    I also do not realise that you are the one who is creating the schedule / programming for vonvo. I had been invited by Max weeks ago, and when he had asked me if i wanted to debate Syria, I accepted. You asked me if i wanted to debate you, and i said, if memory serves, why not. I have no particular issue with you, I “ended” interaction with you when i felt spammed and when you began to attack me, which is something everyone does when they no longer seek interaction with someone on FB, they unfriend them! As I also remember, a close friend of yours was insulting me for “being a Jew”, and your wife spammed my inbox unsolicited. If anything, i have been tolerating your attitude – which clearly showed your limits not only in discourse, but in tolerating that anyone has the opportunity to speak, including the insertion of ad hominem speech, interrupting both Reem and me repeatedly but screaming and telling us to shut up when we asked for you to repeat something or when we in real time said something was untrue when you were stating something entirely invented. As for changing the rules during the debate, I think this demand you made during the debate to have double time to either of your adversaries reveals your own weaknesses while alotting you a privileged position in the debate. Insistence upon obtaining the last word, double intervention, avoidance of the points raised by your adversaries, refusal to take a question from the moderator and derailing of the discourse into tangents that also included discussion of the parties involved does not quite strike me as civil conduct!

    I imagine that in all future debates, Max will have to consider that rules do not get amended while a debate is in course, and since it was clear that there was the panel composition, this should not have happened during the debate. Your being satisfied with your privilege and demanding it be respected outside of the original “pact” resulted in you raising your voice in continuation and demanding others to be cut short.

    So, I honestly do not get your point in responding when it is made clear that your request for a rematch does not depend upon you or me. There are many persons who I am certain are anxious to debate about the topic, and unless the ground rules are fair and you are kept to maintain civil composure, you must have the humility at least to recognise that it is not your decision or my decision to make, so you can even keep your attitude problems under cover and at least appear a bit more of a gentleman!

  • 26 February
  • Ghassan Kadi

    You are simply, though vet elaborately, trying to avoid finishing the discussion because you well know that if you did, your lack of knoewledge will be exposed and you will lose your popularity among your followers who were littering the chat room with silly comments and personal attacks. That’s fine Mary. I won’t twist your arms. You have distanced many friends recently simply because you have no arguments to make. I just would wish that you would stop meddling into my country. You are causing harm and you are not at all helping anything or any one except the friends of Israel. Speaking of whom, you did not respond to my comments regarding FSA fighters getting treated in Israeli hospitals. These are the questions you are trying to avoid confronting. But this is fine Mary. I will not defame you in FB as you. You have already made some recent complaints to FB. I do have the right however to say that you are refusing to finish the debate.

  • Max Ringelheim

    Guys I will try reading through this fully and respond to this a little later. Been a busy busy day today.

  • Ghassan Kadi

    While you are at it Max, please make it clear who has broken the debate protocol and who interrupted who. I interrupted Mary once only and said “I need to interrupt”. She interrupted me on a number of counts. Further, her supporters mobbed the chat room. I believe that the same rules of civil conduct that apply to the debate room should apply to the chat room.

    Mary has accused me (above) of the exact things that she and her groupies have done, but bullies often play victims. There is nothing new in this tactic.

    Honestly, this needs to be tidied up. I know that Vonvo is not CNN, but there are certain basic rules that need to be implemented. Least of which is that the number of people in the debate room should be raised to 5 so you can have yourselv plus 2 from each side.

  • 27 February
  • Mary Hassan Ali Rizzo

    At Ghassan:
    It seems that either your English isn’t good enough or you have reading comprehesion problems, because I can’t explain otherwise what it is that you don’t understand when I say “don’t contact me with regards to another vonvo debate, it’s not up to me, it’s up to them”.

    Anyhow, it looks like you just want to have the last word, regardless if what you say is true or not. So, listen to me and this time try to understand what I’m saying because enough is enough.

    You can claim as much as you like that I’m avoiding/declining/rejecting your proposal/suggestion/challenge for another debate. If you wish, you can also claim that the earth is square and not round. You can also claim that Elvis is still alive. Whatever it is you claim, I advise you to not forget that the evidence proving the contrary is here and I will put it out if you decide to continue acting like a 5 year old in kindergarten. So, here’s the deal. I’ll repeat it for the last time – take it or leave it. It’s up to you.

    As I have made it crystal in this PM that I have no problem whatsoever to engage in another vonvo debate with you (or anyone else for that matter), try your best to understand and realise that I’m not the person in charge for organising these debates. Max is. So, quit barking up the wrong tree. If you don’t know the meaning of that idiom, you can also take it literally!

    With regards to your allegation that I’m going around on FB defaming you or whatever, I refer you to last night’s thread that your wife started in your group, in which she claims that I have reported her on FB about some comment in some thread, which I have no idea whatsoever about. However, what I’m certain though is that this thread contains enough comments that are pure lies, let alone the various derogatory and insulting terms used, like for example the Spanish ‘puta’, i.e whore.

    Who is libeling whom on FB is clear. It’s obvious that you have turned this to a personal issue and that Syria is the last thing you actually want to discuss. Moreover, you have dragged Max & Vonvo into a vendetta (note: a vendetta that takes place only in your mind and imagination) by asking him the most absurd stuff and requesting him to act as a mediator, as if this is his job. And when he declined to do so, simply because he’s only the Vonvo moderator and not your Mother or Father where you can go to and complain that some child stole your chocolate bar, asking him to do things that are none of his business, like taking actions against anyone who writes anything on FB. That is not his business, nor his job and for all I know, he couldn’t care less if a bunch of people on FB wish to engage in petty cat-fights. The guy only wants (and rightfully so) to acquire more speakers & listeners for a project he started, namely Vonvo. It’s not his job to take sides or tell people what to write and what not on FB and when he made that clear to you guys last night, your first reaction was to immediately dismiss Vonvo, start calling for people to leave Vonvo and start accusing them of a bunch of things. Thumbs up! Score!
    For the love of God people, grow up!

    Listen Ghasan, and if you don’t understand what I’m going to say then reread it as many times as you need until you get it. I don’t care how Max will deal with your actions and your group’s posts & comments on FB dissing Vonvo. That is his job to do and he will deal with it accordingly if he wishes and if he thinks it’s necessary, in an effort to protect Vonvo from libel.

    But when it comes to me, rest assured that the next time you will write to me with false allegations and lies or you, together with your friends, write again anywhere that I’m declining your proposal or call me a whore again, I will put out in the public this PM, as well as any other threads which clearly prove that what you claim is false. End of story.

    At Max:
    I’m sorry that you have been involved in this silliness but unfortunately this is the ugly side of activism. I trust your judgement and I trust that you will deal accordingly with whatever defamatory comments have been put and will be put up on FB in the future about Vonvo, simply because you chose not to be part of an argument that doesn’t involve you. As I said yesterday Max, if you wish to organise another debate on Vonvo and invite me as a speaker and given that I’m available, please feel free to contact me. You know where to find me. I apologise for you being put in the middle but I can’t control other people’s actions nor can I prevent anyone from copying you in PMs that don’t concern you. It’s clear though, that you being included in such an exchange of messages was not my decision nor was it ever my wish, as I can realise that you are just a moderator of a public forum. I’ve been trying for 2 days now to make Ghassan understand that, it seems that he’s not capable of understanding it though. I hope that you will soon be left out of the drama that some people instigate and that you won’t have to deal with a defamatory campaign against Vonvo.

  • 27 February
  • Max Ringelheim

    Hey guys so I hear both of your points and respect each of you. I also thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the time that you have devoted to the Vonvo website.

    Ultimately I think you both believe in Vonvo and its mission of fostering discussion and debates around crucial trending current events. Our platform is unfortunately not perfect but enhancements to our Version 2 Vonvo website should be coming in the following weeks.

    In the end when you break this down, very simply in my eyes this just seems like a matter where two people having differing opinions and are struggling to find common ground and agreement. This is MORE than fine! Vonvo cant guarantee people will agree with one another but the point is providing a platform where one can be heard. I have practically no control over what people can do off of the Vonvo website which I think you would both find understandable.

    How would you suggest we resolve this issue? Would you like to have another debate? Would you rather not speak to one another again? Totally up to you

  • 27 February
  • Ghassan Kadi

    Max. Mary follows the strategies and tactis of Israel. Attack, lie, frame others, and then play victim. Her very rude remarks above are very obvious and she is trying to make herself look nice towards you just for the sake of trying to me make me look bad. I do not wish to debate her any more. I would rather debate someone else who is decent and has something of substance to say.

  • Max Ringelheim

    no problem Ghassan thank u for your suggestion and that is more than fine. ALL GOOD. Have a good weekend and just to confirm u said u are not available correct?

    this weekend that is??

  • Tuesday
  • Ghassan Kadi

    Yes. This weekend shoud be fine.

Seen by everyone


What is it that the world doesn’t ‘get’ with Syria that leads to the continuing reluctance to unequivocally condemn and speak out against Bashar Al Assad’s regime among so many otherwise intelligent people?

The Assad regime is using warplanes, helicopter warships, tanks, Scud missiles, cluster bombs, phosphorous bombs, TNT-filled barrel bombs, rocket launchers and assorted other weapons against civilians. Over 70,000 Syrian people have been officially documented killed to date, more than 5,000 of those are children. The real death toll may be twice that and it is rising by the day. Hundreds of thousands are imprisoned, ”missing,” maimed, crippled, over four million in the country need urgent humanitarian aid, over 2.6 million are displaced, over 700,000 are refugees…the horror statistics go on and on…and the world collectively shrugs, sighs and turns away.

I realise that people have the right to say this isn’t happening. They also have the right to say that the sun doesn’t rise in the east, although repeating the latter patent falsehood at least doesn’t make them tacitly complicit in genocide, as repeating the former one does.

Of course, people have the right to believe what the Assad regime and its supporters tells them – that it is a heroic and embattled state fighting heinous and possibly fanged radical Islamists and jihadists intent on its destruction, who are part of a foreign plot by the CIA to overthrow The Only True Anti-Imperialist State In The Region.

People also have the right to believe what Israel and its supporters tell them – that it is a heroic and embattled state fighting heinous and possibly fanged radical Islamists and jihadists intent on its destruction, who are part of a foreign plot by Iran to overthrow The Only True Democracy In The Region.

Both arguments, for the Assad regime and for the zionist state, have exactly the same amount of legitimacy and merit and stand up equally well to even the briefest scrutiny or analysis, which is to say none and not at all.

People have the right to say that they wish to remain neutral on Syria. In the end, however, as Desmond Tutu wisely noted, ‘If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.’ ”Neutrality” – or simply indifference – from the outside world is what all abusive spouses, all dictators, all totalitarian regimes, all brutal and oppressive states rely on in order to continue with their brutality and oppression. Neutrality in such monstrously unjust situations is not an admirable and objective stance, but a tacit nod and wink to evil.

People have the right to suggest that maybe dictators are better for some – if they themselves are prepared to give up their own freedoms and live under dictatorship since of course they wouldn’t be hypocritical enough to wish for others what they don’t wish for themselves (perish the thought…).

People also have the right to say that Western democracy is a sham, and I would agree wholeheartedly that it could certainly be massively improved. But oddly I don’t notice the Western totalitarianism groupies actually rushing to renounce their citizenship of horrid sham democracies in favour of emigration to glorious people’s republics, or indeed campaigning for fewer rights in order to feel less oppressed by the horrors of democracy.

People have the right to say that Western leaders and governments are monstrously hypocritical, amoral and indifferent to human life, paying only lip service to the ideals of freedom and human rights while actually opposing them whenever expedient for their interests. And I would agree wholeheartedly without reservations. I’d also suggest that this is one more reason why we should not exhibit the same monstrous hypocrisy, amorality and indifference to human life – because if we pick and choose which people’s freedom and human rights to support or oppose we are no different, no less hypocritical, amoral and indifferent to human life, and certainly no better than those governments we condemn.

In the end, people have the right to say, do (or not do) and believe whatever they want, about Syria or any other issue. But that right comes with the attendant acceptance of responsibility for the results of their words, action or inaction and beliefs. The results of neutrality of indifference towards Assad’s war on Syria are tacit support for and complicity with it. The neutral and indifferent people around the world are not flying Assad’s warplanes, dropping the cluster bombs and phosphorous bombs, carrying out the rapes, torture, massacres, but their silence gives their consent for the regime to continue doing so, tipping Assad a silent nod and wink to ‘Carry On Killing.’

Affiches géantes, pour rappeler au peuple qui commande.

Ruth Riegler a interrogé un activiste syrien afin de mieux comprendre sa vie dans la Syrie révolutionnaire. Il apparaît sous un pseudonyme. Traduit par Eric Lamy.

R. R. : Comment décririez-vous la vie en Syrie avant la révolution, et comment définiriez-vous les causes premières de celle-ci ?

S. L. : Mon nom est Syrien Libre. Je veux que le monde sache pourquoi nous faisons la révolution contre Bashar Al Assad et son régime. Chacun sait aujourd’hui que c’est une révolution majeure, mais personne ne sait, en fait, quelles en sont les raisons profondes. Je vais vous le dire. Je veux que le monde sache comment nous vivions avant la révolution, qu’il en sache les vraies raisons. Nous vivions dans un monde où nous n’avions qu’à obéir comme des esclaves, quelque soit l’ordre du maître. Nous n’avions qu’à obéir et nous exécuter. En cas de désobéissance, nous étions punis ou exécutés.

Nous vivions dans un état de haute sécurité, ce qui signifie que nous étions gouvernés par un président unique avec ses militaires, ses services secrets, ses officiers, sa police militaire, sa police, ses indicateurs et ses shabihas [gangs armés]. Pour faire quoique ce soit, il vous fallait d’abord obtenir une autorisation et vérifier que la loi vous permettait d’agir ou non ; ce qui signifie que vous n’aviez aucun droit d’agir de vous-même et que vous auriez à affronter des obstacles si vous persistiez. Seuls les tenants du pouvoir pouvaient vivre librement et en dehors des lois. Ils pouvaient agir en toute liberté sans rien demander à personne, tout en contrôlant chaque quartier, y compris le système politique, le secteur industriel du pétrole et du gaz, l’économie du pays, les banques, le commerce, l’armée, l’agriculture et l ‘éducation. Dans les faits, ils se considéraient comme des dieux.

C’est Hafez (et ensuite Bashar) qui ont permis à Israël d’occuper militairement les Hauteurs du Golan.

Nous avons vécu sous ce régime qui prétend être anti-sioniste, mais c’est, en fait, un autre mensonge : il n’a jamais tiré un coup de feu contre Israël et il a maintenu la paix dans les Hauteurs du Golan, interdisant à tout syrien d’attaquer l’État Juif ou de réclamer ce territoire annexé. Tout homme qui l’aurait osé eût été jeté en prison, puni et probablement exécuté. Nous vivions comme des esclaves, sans aucun droit. Nous n’avions pas celui de choisir un candidat au poste de président ou d’organiser des élections libres, de créer des partis politiques ou de choisir des députés, d’élire un parlement. Seuls Assad et ses services secrets pouvaient choisir des députés, et leurs choix allaient invariablement vers les plus corrompus, les plus dénués de moralité ou de conscience. Si vous vous opposiez à la moindre de leurs actions, vous étiez jetés en prison. Ils faisaient de vous ce qu’ils voulaient parce que vous n’étiez rien. Les gens avaient peur de s’opposer, d’être en désaccord avec le régime ou avec quelqu’un qui fût proche des services secrets : les Syriens ont appris à courber l’échine et à se taire. Si vous osiez maudire Bashar, les hommes du régime venaient vous saisir où que vous soyiez pour vous embarquer à l’antenne locale des services secrets. Personne ne savait où vous étiez passé, personne n’osait s’en informer ou même prononcer votre nom. Si jamais vous vouliez créer un mouvement politique, ils agissaient de même : en Syrie, il n’y avait qu’un seul parti, et tous les syriens étaient obligés d’y adhérer. Au cas où vous aviez l’intention d’échapper au service militaire obligatoire, vous étiez jeté en prison pour au moins trois mois, puis forcé de servir quand même.. S’il vous arrivait de mourir pendant votre incarcération dans les geôles des services secrets, personne n’aurait cherché à savoir comment et pourquoi. Personne, évidemment, n’aurait pu être tenu responsable de votre mort car la constitution syrienne garantit au président, à ses services secrets, ses militaires et ses collaborateurs une immunité totale. Les syriens étaient traités comme des insectes qu’on écrase sous une botte. Leur vie importait peu.

On ne peut représenter l’oppression, mais on peut la ressentir.

Le système permettait au président, son armée et ses services secrets d’arrêter, de torturer et de tuer n’importe qui, de disposer de nous et personne, en dehors du pays, ne savait ce qui s’y passait. La corruption, le népotisme et les faveurs étaient la règle à tous les niveaux de l’état, et les gens ont appris à survivre et à ne s’occuper que de soi, sans poser de question, sans s’occuper des autres. Seuls Assad et les proches du régime pouvaient agir à leur guise. La Syrie était une grande ferme et les syriens en étaient le bétail.

Il faut que je vous parle de l’économie du pays. En dépit de la découverte de réserves de pétrole et de gaz dans le Nord-Est de la Syrie ainsi que d’énormes gisements en Mer Méditerranée, nous nous sommes toujours étonnés de ce que ces matières premières étaient si chères pour nous, et pourquoi devions-nous les importer d’Iran, d’Iraq et d’Égypte. Nous avons découvert que c’est parce que Bashar et sa famille volaient le gaz et le pétrole syriens pour le vendre au rabais à la Russie et à l’Europe. Ils se mettaient l’argent dans la poche, pendant que les Syriens n’ont d’autre choix que d’acheter leur carburant et leur gaz à un prix élevé dans les centres de distribution de l’état, quand on avait la chance d’en trouver un. Le gouvernement a constamment gonflé le prix du pétrole et du gaz. Conséquemment, les prix des autres denrées, pain, riz, sucre, habillement, appareils électroniques, maisons, tout, enfin, à augmenté et continué d’augmenter sans jamais diminuer. Quand on pense aux réserves de notre pays en énergies fossiles, cette situation est tout à fait grotesque.

L’économie syrienne toute entière est une farce : lorsque le gouvernement recevait une aide d’autres pays, toute question de notre part relative à la destination de ces fonds restait sans réponse. Quand nous voulûmes nous pencher sur le développement du système éducatif de notre pays, de la santé, de l’agriculture, du secteur industriel ou du réseau électrique national, le gouvernement nous répondit que cette idée entraînerait une hausse des impôts ainsi qu’un surcroît de l’aide internationale parce que la Syrie n’avait pas les moyens de telles réformes.

Les agences de services secrets et les espions : le contrôle de la vie du peuple est total. Telle est l’existence sous le règne d’Assad.

Si un Syrien, désireux de vivre dignement voulait créer une entreprise, manufacture ou import de produits finis telles des voitures, de l’habillement ou de l’équipement électrique, le régime ne l’autorisait qu’à la condition qu’il obtienne une part des bénéfices, un pot-de-vin régulier, en plus des taxes habituelles. Si vous acceptiez cela, on vous accordait votre licence. Si vous refusiez, votre demande était rejetée, et les obstacles à votre projet commençaient à se dresser devant lui. Toute personne désirant ouvrir un commerce de quelque nature que ce soit (échoppe de rue vendant de l’épicerie, stand de bouquiniste, supérette ou cybercafé) devait en premier lieu obtenir l’aval des services secrets avant de faire sa demande auprès des services d’état concernés, à qui il devait verser un pot-de-vin. Si, par exemple, vous vouliez ouvrir un cybercafé, il vous fallait obtenir l’aval des services secrets. Ensuite, après vous être rendu au siège du ministère de la communication (et acquitté un backchich pour les fonctionnaires afin que votre demande soit prise en compte) il vous fallait vous rendre au bureau du gouvernement local puis à l’organisme financier d’état et naviguer au sein de cet écheveau bureaucratique pendant des mois avant d’arriver à un résultat. Même si vous vouliez vous marier et organiser la fête de la noce, vous deviez d’abord en obtenir la permission de l’état. Pardonnez-moi d’être un peu cru, mais c’est une boutade syrienne que de dire que “si tu veux coucher avec ta femme, il te faut l’autorisation écrite du gouvernement”.

En Syrie, tout homme d’un âge donné doit se soumettre à la conscription obligatoire. Beaucoup de mes compatriotes, dès qu’ils ont 18 ans, s’envolent pour l’étranger afin d’y travailler ou faire des études. Grâce au pot-de-vin, on peut échapper à la conscription. Mais si vous n’aviez pas les moyens de prendre l’avion, de travailler ou de suivre des études à l’étranger (et pas de moyen d’échapper à la conscription), il vous restait la possibilité d’être le domestique d’un officier, ou bien chauffeur, ou garde. Si vous pouviez verser un tant par semaine à un gradé, vous pouviez être dispensé de servir et être autorisé à trouver un travail au lieu de rester au chômage. Si vous aviez les moyens d’un gros backchich (un poste TV à un gradé, le paiement de ses factures de téléphone, l’entretien de sa voiture ou tout autre service) vous pouviez éviter le service militaire pendant deux ans. Après ce délai, il vous fallait recommencer votre vie à zéro.

Les syriens veulent la liberté !

Voilà le genre de choses qui nous ont conduit à nous dresser contre le régime d’Assad. Nous voulons la liberté. Nous voulons décider de nos vies. Nous voulons organiser et affermir notre pays de nos mains. Nous voulons construire, produire nos biens de consommation nous-mêmes. Nous voulons produire de nos propres mains. Nous voulons améliorer le système éducatif, le système de santé, l’agriculture et tous les autres secteurs d’activités qu’Assad à laissé en friche. Nous voulons innover. Nous voulons être les premiers Arabes à produire des voitures, des trains. Oui, comme tous les autres peuples du monde, nous réclamons la dignité. Pour toutes ces raisons, nous continuerons de nous battre et nous ne reculerons pas. Nous vivrons dans la dignité, ou bien nous mourrons en martyr. Nous réclamons la liberté.

R. R. : Pour donner au lecteur une idée de ce que vous et vos compatriotes vivez
aujourd’hui, pouvez-vous décrire une journée habituelle en Syrie ?

S. L. : Imaginez-vous un beau matin ensoleillé… Vous vous levez, faites votre toilette, prenez votre café, en souriant à l’idée de tout ce que vous allez faire aujourd’hui, en dépit des obstacles que le gouvernement met en travers de votre chemin. Ça, c’était avant la révolution. À présent, dormir la nuit, se lever tôt le matin, c’est terminé. Tout à changé depuis le début de notre chère révolution, le 15 mai 2011 à Deraa. Bien… Voilà ce qui a changé dans mon programme et dans ma vie en général. D’abord, je ne dors plus que très tard ou très peu, sans cesse réveillé par les bombardements, les obus, les coups de feu et les manifestations, matin ou soir. Mes habitudes ont changé également.

J’avais l’habitude de fréquenter une école de langues près de chez moi pour étudier l’anglais afin d’être traducteur. Cela me permettait, en outre, de rencontrer un ami et de dénicher une meilleure place pour obtenir une maîtrise de traducteur. J’avais trouvé une place à Preston (GB), mais je n’ai pu malheureusement répondre à cette offre d’emploi car je n’ai pas de passeport, et les cours au centre linguistique américain (cycle TOEFL) ont été suspendus. Bien que j’aie contacté le Conseil Britannique pour tenter de les persuader de dispenser un cours  (cycles TOEFL ou ILTES) au Royaume-Uni, je ne pense pas pouvoir commencer ma maîtrise cette année. Je pense que l’occasion en est perdue. Mais ce n’est pas le seul problème que j’ai rencontré : après avoir cherché du travail quelques temps, j’en avais trouvé, l’an dernier, dans une société privée de communications. C’est tombé à l’eau, également, depuis que la situation, ici, n’a cessé d’empirer.

En plus, le fait de ne pas avoir fait mon service militaire signifie que je ne peux ni travailler, ni voyager pour passer ma maîtrise. Cela m’a vraiment déprimé : pas de travail, plus d’espoir de maîtrise, je perdais l’envie de vivre. Puis le régime s’est mis à tuer notre peuple. D’abord à Deraa, où les troupes d’Assad utilisèrent des balles réelles contre des manifestants désarmés, puis vinrent les chars à l’intérieur des villes. Nous autres, jeunes de Syrie, nous n’avons pas du tout aimé cela et nous avons commencé à manifester. Alors le régime à commencé à utiliser des nervis en civil et des casseurs, des brutes comme les shabihas pour nous terroriser.

Depuis lors, le régime d’Assad n’a rien épargné contre nous. Avant la révolution, je faisais trois repas par jour. Aujourd’hui, un seul. Avant la révolution, je dormais huit heures par nuit. Aujourd’hui, je me contente de cinq heures de sommeil, mais je veille bien souvent jusqu’à l’aube. Je me suis débrouillé pour aider au mieux les compatriotes qui en avaient le plus besoin, en les cachant ou en aidant quiconque avait besoin de traduire des infos ou des vidéos envoyées par d’autres activistes. Je reçois des tas d’infos : je les traduis, je les partage au mieux, je discute avec mes amis et nous échangeons nos points de vue sur ce qu’il convient de faire. Notre principal sujet de conversation tourne autour de l’idée que chaque nation au sein de la Communauté Internationale soutient le régime de Bashar parce qu’elle ne veut pas perdre le toutou docile qui protège Israël et maintient la sécurité dans la région.

À présent, le régime à dressé des checkpoints dans toutes les villes et villages, sur tous les axes principaux, et il a fermé toutes les rues qui conduisent au palais présidentiel, à Damas. Il a placé également des snipers un peu partout, surtout dans les zones contrôlées par les rebelles. Si vous voulez faire des courses ou bien vous rendre à la salle de gym, voir des amis ou aller n’importe où, les troupes du régime vous arrêteront aux checkpoints et vérifieront votre identité sur une longue liste de noms : si vous êtes recherché, convaincu d’être un activiste ou que vous n’ayez pas fait votre service militaire, ils vous arrêtent ou bien vous tuent sur place. Il nous faut passer ces checkpoints tous les jours. Récemment, je me rendais chez des amis pour travailler à notre cause. J’ai été arrêté pendant une demi-heure. Je commençais à me faire du soucis. Un soldat m’a appelé. Je me suis approché pour demander ce qui n’allait pas. Il m’a regardé puis a dit : “Voilà  tes papiers. Tu nous fais perdre notre temps avec des recherches inutiles. File.” Après cette aventure, j’ai décidé qu’à chaque fois que je sortirais, j’emprunterais des chemins de traverse pour éviter les checkpoints. Une autre fois, récemment, je me suis rendu à Barzeh pour voir les parents de Salim, un ami abattu par un sniper. Je voulais leur présenter mes condoléances. Au même moment, de violents affrontements avaient lieu dans le secteur, entre des troupes loyalistes et l’Armée Syrienne de Libération. Comme je me rendais à l’appartement des parents de Salim, un sniper à tiré et m’a manqué de peu. J’ai seulement réalisé ce qui arrivait quand un inconnu m’a tiré dans l’entrée de l’immeuble en disant : “Tu es cinglé ? Tu as donc envié de mourir ?”

Ce porc de Bashar à donné ordre aux snipers de se positionner un peu partout et de descendre qui ils veulent. J’ai beaucoup d’amis qui ont été tués par des snipers. D’autres ont survécu à leurs tirs. Anwar, un ami qui n’avait peur de rien et qui était de toutes les manifs, à pris une balle dans la tête. Après un séjour de six mois en soins intensifs et une balle qui lui a traversé le crâne, Allah n’a pas voulu qu’il meure. Certes, il a survécu, mais il est a demi-paralysé et il peut à peine se servir de sa jambe et son bras droits. J’ai d’autres amis qui ont purement et simplement disparu depuis leur arrestation par les forces du régime. Personne ne sait où ils sont et s’ils sont en vie. L’un d’entre eux, Bilal, un ami proche, avait l’habitude de ne pas manquer une seule manif pour encourager la chute du régime… Tous les jours, j’entends parler d’amis kidnappés contre rançon, d’autres sont enlevés dans la rue ou à un checkpoint. Certains d’entre eux peuvent appeler leurs parents pour demander de l’argent. Tant que la rançon n’est pas versée, les ravisseurs ne donnent aucune nouvelle aux parents.

Il est impossible de décrire notre enfer. Plus d’ordre, plus aucune stabilité, et la Communauté Internationale qui regarde faire et se tait. Des tas de jeunes gens s’envolent à l’étranger pour survivre. Les autres rejoignent les rangs de l’ASL dans laquelle on retrouve de nombreux éléments qui ont déserté l’armée régulière où ils étaient obligés de servir. Voila ma vie en Syrie aujourd’hui. J’ai décidé de rallier l’ASL. Honnêtement, j’ai souvent envié de fuir le plus vite possible. J’ai songé à m’enfuir à l’étranger mais, comme je vous l’ai dit, je n’ai pas de passeport. Bien que j’aie demandé de l’aide à des tas d’amis et de connaissances, il est quasi impossible de sortir de Syrie sans passeport.

Conséquences du passage des tanks qui ont pénétré dans le camp palestinien de Yarmouk, près de Damas.

R. R. : Que répondez-vous à ceux qui continuent à prétendre qu’Assad est une figure emblématique de l’anti-sionisme ?

S. L. : Tout le monde sait que Hafez Al Assad (que Dieu le maudisse, lui et son fils !) a vendu les Hauteurs du Golan à Israël et qu’il est responsable de la mort de nombreux Palestiniens au Liban et en Syrie, et ce pour garantir la sécurité d’Israël au Liban. À présent, son fils Bashar fait la même chose mais d’une manière différente. Il a attaqué de nombreuses zones où vivent les Palestiniens établis en Syrie, surtout au camp de Yarmouk, près de Damas, et je l’ai vu de mes propres yeux. De même, il est tout à fait faux de croire que Bashar soutient le Hezbollah libanais dans sa lutte contre Israël. C’est pur mensonge. Chacun sait qu’Assad à donné le feu vert au Hezbollah pour assassiner le leader sunnite Rafiq Al Hariri au Liban. De même, le soutien syrien pour redorer le blason de Nasrallah [chef du Hezbollah libanais] afin qu’il puisse se poser en héros de guerre ; la guerre de 2007 contre Israël était pourtant un autre mensonge, un stratagème pour permettre l’expansion du Hezbollah au Liban, et donner aux chiites l’occasion d’accroître leur mainmise sur ce pays, en permettant à l’Iran de renforcer son contrôle sur la région. C’est le projet de Téhéran au Moyen-Orient : constituer un croissant chiite qui s’étendrait de l’Iran à l’Iraq en réunissant la Syrie, le Liban, l’Égypte, l’Arabie Saoudite et le Yémen. Bashar Al Assad souligne sans cesse qu’il lutte contre Israël, qu’il mène la résistance contre l’État Hébreu. Je répondrai ceci : en ce cas, pourquoi emprisonnez-vous, pourquoi torturez-vous, pourquoi tuez-vous tous mes amis ainsi que des dizaines de milliers de Syriens ? Pourquoi tuez-vous mes frères Palestiniens et Iraquiens ? Pourquoi n’avez-vous rien fait quand les avions israéliens ont violé l’espace aérien de notre pays ? N’essayez pas de mentir au peuple syrien : nous vous connaissons mieux que personne. Nous savons tous que votre boulot, c’est de nous liquider et de protéger Israël. Que Dieu vous maudisse, fils de l’adultère !

Homs, au pire de la violence.

R. R. : Comment ça se passe pour vous qui devez vivre dans une vraie zone de guerre ?

S. L. :  Il nous est très difficile de subvenir à nos besoins dans les circonstances actuelles ; on vit avec prudence, on n’achète et on ne consomme que l’essentiel. En ce qui me concerne, c’est plus dur parce que je suis sans emploi. C’est mon père qui m’aide financièrement. Je vis chez mes parents et je les aide. Aujourd’hui, en Syrie, les branches d’une même famille sont regroupées sous un même toit, ce qui fait qu’on trouve parfois de trois à dix familles vivant dans la même maison. La situation est dramatique : entre 65 et 75% de la Syrie est détruite. On se débrouille pour acheter, pour stocker la nourriture qu’on peut trouver, mais il y a des secteurs où il n’y à plus rien. À Homs, il n’y a plus ni nourriture, ni quoique ce soit pour se protéger du froid. Dans deux mois, l’hiver sera là, et nous voudrions que cela finisse le plus tôt possible. La plupart des villes syriennes n’ont plus rien : Assad à brûlé les récoltes et détruit les habitations. J’ai de quoi manger la plupart du temps mais d’autres non, et ça, ça m’inquiète. On leur envoie de l’aide mais le régime encercle ces zones, bien que l’ASL fasse de son mieux pour distribuer aide et médicaments.

Personne n’a idée de la tragédie que nous vivons, mais nous avons bon moral car nous savons tous qu’Allah est à nos côtés. Nous tuerons Bashar, inch’Allah. Nous allons continuer à nous soutenir mutuellement avec nourriture, soins médicaux et tout ce qui sera nécessaire pour remporter la
victoire. J’insiste sur le fait que que l’armée de notre pays, c’est l’Armée Libre de Syrie, l’ALS, et nous en sommes très fiers. Nous sommes tous syriens et nous resterons unis : c’est ce que nous chantions pendant les manifestations “uni, uni, uni, le Peuple Syrien est uni!”

Même après de nombreux mois, le monde se contente toujours de regarder le génocide.

R. R. : Que ressentez-vous devant l’apathie de presque toute la Communauté Internationale à l’égard de la révolution syrienne, et est-ce que votre opinion à son égard a-t-elle évolué ? Si oui, dans quelle mesure ?

S. L. : Pour quelles raisons le monde entier a-t-il béni les révolutions en Tunisie, en Égypte, en Lybie et au Yémen, pourquoi les a-t-il soutenus alors que personne ne nous a aidé, personne pour soutenir notre révolution, personne pour dire le bien-fondé de notre cause ? Pourquoi la Russie, l’Iran, la Chine et l’Iraq ont-ils été autorisés à aider Bashar et son régime en fournissant armes, argent, carburant, gaz et démarches politiques ? Pourquoi les gouvernements occidentaux n’ont-ils pas essayé de nous aider en créant une zone d’exclusion aérienne, en nous fournissant les armes nécessaires et en établissant des zones protégées pour les civils ?Peut-être que ces mêmes gouvernements sont incapables de répondre à toutes ces questions.

Nous, les syriens, nous savons pourquoi : ils veulent nous imposer une solution unilatérale, et cela, nous ne l’accepterons jamais. Je vais vous dire ce que l’on nous propose comme solution. Ils veulent que nous acceptions leurs conditions en permettant à Bashar de rester au pouvoir, nous octroyer une liberté cosmétique et procéder à des changements superficiels en réunissant un gouvernement d’unité nationale. Les gouvernements occidentaux ne veulent pas entendre parler de gens droits et nobles, d’honorables patriotes, ils ne veulent pas entendre parler de l’ALS, non. Ils veulent tuer tous ces gens-là pour mieux nous imposer leurs vues. Il y a aussi cette clause très importante : ils veulent qu’Israël soit assuré d’une paix sans nuage et que nul ne s’en approche. Pour toutes ces raisons – et l’Histoire le prouve à l’envi – Bashar est le mieux placé pour réussir. C’est pourquoi les gouvernements occidentaux laissent l’Iran, la Russie et lal’Iraq le soutenir en lui envoyant davantage d’armes et de troupes, puisqu’il n’y a plus de syriens (qui ne veulent plus de lui) à cause des défections  en masse qui dépeuplent l’armée régulière. L’Occident laisse ces pays envoyer des fonds et des soldats du Hezbollah, de l’Armée du Mahdi [milice chiite irakienne] et de la Force Al Qds [pasdarans iraniens, opérations extérieures]. L’excuse de l’Occident est que l’issue du conflit est complexe. Elle est très simple, au contraire : nous voulons la liberté. Donnez-nous des armes lourdes pour détruire les avions de chasse, des tanks, des lance-rocket et nous gagnerons. L’Occident sait que Bashar est affaibli, c’est pourquoi il prétend que s’il nous donnait des armes, l’ASL serait incapable d’en contrôler la distribution et donc Al-Qaeda en profiterait.

Mais les syriens savent bien qu’Al-Qaeda n’est pas en Syrie, ni dans aucun pays arabe. Les gouvernements occidentaux ont brandi cette nouvelle excuse : l’opposition syrienne n’est pas unie. Celle qui a défait les régimes en place dans les autres pays n’était pas plus unie. Les gouvernements occidentaux n’ont rien fait non plus pour les réfugiés syriens en Turquie, en Jordanie, au Liban et en Iraq ; ils n’ont envoyé qu’une aide insuffisante, sans leur permettre de pouvoir travailler. Ils ne les ont même pas enregistrés comme réfugiés aux Nations Unies, les laissant dans des zones désolées d’Iraq et de Jordanie, parce que l’Occident veut que les syriens, même réfugiés, obéissent à leurs directives en se soumettant à Bashar Al Assad, en retournant vivre sous sa férule. Si nous refusons cela, notre punition sera la privation de nourriture, d’eau et de denrées de première nécessité. Il ne faudra, bien sûr, pas compter sur son aide pour se débarrasser de Bashar. Personne ne nous aidera. Nous n’avons que nous pour nous aider, et Dieu, et c’est précisément ce à quoi nous sommes réduits aujourd’hui.

Combattants de l’ASL tombés au champ d’honneur.

R. R. : Comment voyez-vous la situation évoluer à court et moyen terme, et êtes-vous confiant dans le retour de la paix après la chute d’Assad ?

S. L. : La situation sera sanglante et bloquée si nous ne nous efforçons pas ardemment de résoudre le problème. Si l’on peut agir vite pour nous libérer, cela nous permettra d’épargner le plus de vies possibles et de sauver ce qui peut l’être de notre peuple, des propriétés, de l’infrastructure du pays, de son économie… Si on leslaisse faire ce qu’ils veulent (Bashar et les puissances occidentales) nous perdrons davantage de nos compatriotes et le carnage va empirer. Si cela devait arriver, le bain de sang se poursuivrait (ce serait un génocide) avec des milliers de morts supplémentaires, le pays pillé et mis à sac par son armée, les bâtiments et son infrastructure détruits, l’économie dévastée, des milliers de gens choisissant l’exil, les meilleurs cerveaux de Syrie, ceux qui sont essentiels pour reconstruire le pays, fuiraient une nation tout simplement abandonnée au chaos. Nous autres syriens nous ne le voulons pas. Nous ne pouvons accepter ça. C’est pourquoi nous travaillons très dur à organiser et harmoniser notre agenda pour tuer Bashar et mettre rapidement un terme à cette épouvantable situation. Nous autres syriens sommes optimistes parce qu’Allah nous accompagne et que nous sommes unis. C’est pourquoi nous pensons que la paix reviendra bientôt. Si Bashar reste au pouvoir, il n’y aura nulle paix. Juste plus de discours et de sang versé, et nous vivrons à jamais dans les ténèbres comme des esclaves. Nous ne pouvons l’accepter. C’est pourquoi nous  préférons  vivre dignement ou mourir en martyr. C’est l’option que nous avons retenue : la mort plutôt que d’être encore humiliés.

R. R. : Que pensez-vous de certaines allégations relevées dans de nombreux médias qui parlent de “guerre civile confessionnelle” ?

S. L. : Il n’y a pas de “guerre civile confessionnelle”. C’est de la propagande, distillée par le
régime et d’autres pays. Ils prétendent que si le régime tombe, une guerre civile va éclater et le massacre sera général et qu’au contraire, si Bashar reste, la société syrienne demeurera unie. C’est un mensonge éhonté ! Ce que l’Occident et Bashar projettent de faire, c’est de redessiner la carte de la Syrie en régions autonomes comme en Iraq, avec les Kurdes qui y auraient un état indépendant dans le Nord-Est, les Druzes dans le Sud et les Alaouites le long de la côte syrienne, tandis que les Sunnites obtiendraient le reste. Voilà leur projet, et Bashar se démène tant et plus pour réaliser son rêve d’un état Alaouite-Chiite. Ils oublient seulement que depuis le début de notre révolution, notre mot d’ordre a été “Uni, uni, uni : le Peuple Syrien est Uni !”

Le régime essaie d’attiser le sectarisme prétendu de la révolution ; le peuple pense différemment [la Syrie pour tous !].

Ce pays est à tous. Quelle que soit votre religion, secte ou groupe particulier, vous êtes syrien et vous appartenez à la Syrie. Les syriens de toute obédience refusent le projet de diviser notre nation et tous en appellent à l’unité. J’ai rencontré des Alaouites, des Chiites, des Chrétiens, des Druzes et des Sunnites au cours de notre révolution et tous ont rejeté ce plan pour nous diviser. Nous en appelons à l’unité : un peuple, un pays. En dépit des tentatives du pouvoir pour armer différentes sectes et les retourner les unes contre les autres. Pour nous diviser. Même si Bashar fait de son mieux pour semer la division parmi nous, nous ne permettrons pas d’être manipulés, de nous entretuer : nous sommes frères et sœurs.

Pour finir, je voudrais ajouter ceci : avant notre révolution, on vivait ensemble en parfaite harmonie. J’ai vécu, moi, dans un immeuble où mes voisins étaient chiites, juifs et chrétiens. Mes amis sont de religions différentes : on s’apprécie et on cohabite sans problème.

R. R. : Pensez-vous que cette expérience vous a changé ? Si oui, dans quelle mesure ?

S. L. :  Oui, j’ai changé. J’ai une plus grande conscience de la conspiration générale pour faire échouer notre révolution. J’ai également découvert que le monde ne se préoccupe que de ses intérêts et il se moque bien de tout le reste, sauf de lui-même. J’ai également fini de croire à la rhétorique des représentants de l’ONU ou des organisations non-gouvernementales, que ce soit les Droits de l’Homme, l’UNICEF, l’UNICO [universités & collèges en GB], la CPI [cour pénale internationale], l’IJP [institut de justice pénale] ou autre. Le monde n’a pas été capable de mettre au point le moindre programme pour aider les syriens en Syrie ou les réfugiés dans les pays voisins, ni même d’organiser une rencontre de donateurs. Même les conférences des “Amis de la
Syrie” n’a débouché sur rien. Tout ce que savent faire ces gens-là, c’est de nous regarder et laisser Bashar nous tuer avec le soutien russe et iranien.

Pour autant, la révolution m’a donné une forme d’espoir. Voulez-vous savoir ? Elle m’a appris que lorsque vous affrontez des difficultés et des obstacles dans votre vie, personne (excepté sans doute une poignée d’amis véritables ainsi que votre famille) ne se soucie de vous pour vous apporter de l’aide. Il faut tout faire soi-même et s’entraider de toutes les manières. La révolution m’a rendu très conscient de cela. Elle m’a rendu fier de mon peuple et de mon pays. Elle m’a appris ce dont nous avons besoin pour en finir avec cette situation. Nous sommes des gens pacifiques et nous ne manquons pas de ressources. On peut se reconstruire, nous et notre pays, développer nos talents et en acquérir d’autres. Je me sens plus responsable qu’avant : je veux me développer, parfaire mes capacités, acquérir de nouvelles connaissances et les partager avec mon peuple. Je veux enseigner aux générations futures que nous avons combattu et sacrifié nos vies pour gagner notre liberté, et que nous ne devons jamais plus accepter quiconque qui se prendrait pour un dieu avec un droit divin sur son peuple. Non, il nous faut désormais élire des chefs désintéressés, seulement préoccupés de la nation et du peuple syriens, et non de leur enrichissement personnel.

Je veux souligner le fait que la révolution est dans nos mains. Je pense que le monde à besoin de changement. Il doit comprendre que les peuples qui vivent sur cette terre sont égaux et qu’ils ont droit à la liberté. J’ai aussi découvert que ceux qui se posent en tant que “Leaders Arabes” ne sont que des traîtres à la solde des puissances étrangères. Au mieux, ils se moquent totalement des arabes.

R. R. : Combien de temps pensez-vous que la révolution puisse continuer, et que prévoyez-vous qu’il advienne quand elle sera achevée ?

S. L. : Lorsque nous avons commencé la révolution, nous savions qu’il n’y aurait pas de retour en arrière et nous n’avons pas changé d’avis ; après tout ce que nous avons enduré, consenti tous ces sacrifices, nous serions perdus de seulement imaginer revenir au statu quo ante. C’est notre mot de la fin : tout ce que Bashar nous a fait (et continue de nous faire, sans répit), il l’a fait avec de plus en plus d’aide d’Israël, de la Russie, de l’Iran et de la Chine. Nous avons prouvé au monde entier (qui s’obstine dans ses dénégations) que des troupes iraniennes, des hommes du Hezbollah et des soldats russes ont été capturés dans chaque ville de Syrie. Chacun de ces hommes était porteur de documents qui attestent cette évidence. Nous avons également obtenu des documents officiels en provenance du pouvoir qui prouvent que Bashar a fait venir de plus en plus d’hommes en provenance d’Iran (gardiens de la révolution), du Liban, d’Iraq, de Russie et d’autres pays qui fournissent aussi bien des armes que des troupes. Malgré cela, le régime d’Assad est en train de perdre la bataille. Ses alliés et les puissances occidentales veulent qu’il demeure, et ils le couvrent de toutes les manières possibles. Malheureusement pour lui, nous le battrons lui et ses alliés, et nous le tuerons, inch’Allah !

Vous me demandez combien de temps la révolution va-t-elle encore durer : jusqu’à ce que nous tuions Bachar et que nous chassions les russes, les iraniens et le Hezbollah hors de Syrie. Personne, dans notre pays, n’accepterait de s’arrêter aujourd’hui car dans chaque maison de chaque village, ville ou grande cité de Syrie on compte au moins un martyr, un prisonnier, une victime d’enlèvement par les forces du régime, à moins que ce soit un membre de la famille qui ait été contraint à l’exil. Savez-vous qu’Assad a anéanti de nombreuses familles ?

Savez-vous qu’il a détruit la plupart des villes du pays et qu’il a emprisonné plus de 250 000 personnes ? Savez-vous qu’il punit collectivement chaque syrien dans chaque secteur qui s’oppose à lui (c’est à dire presque toute la Syrie) ? Savez-vous que ses forces détiennent et retiennent des stocks de produits pharmaceutiques, qu’elles empoisonnent les réserves d’eau et de nourriture, bombardant les boulangeries pour affamer la population ? Assad fait aussi bombarder les hôpitaux, vise le personnel médical dans l’espoir que le peuple syrien sera obligé de lui obéir. Voici la réponse que nous lui adressons : “vas en enfer !”

Le monde voit tout cela et ne fait rien. Il s’excuse en disant : “c’est bien difficile. C’est compiqué”. C’est très simple, au contraire. Les syriens veulent être libérés de la dictature et la Communauté Internationale pourrait nous aider si elle le voulait. Les syriens savent tout cela. Nous allons continuer à nous soutenir les uns les autres, soutenir et combattre pour l’ALS. Quoique fasse Assad, nous ne calerons pas. Chaque homme, chaque femme, chaque enfant va combattre jusqu’à son dernier souffle. Pas question d’accepter ce que l’ Occident à décidé pour nous. Nous ne céderons pas. Nous n’accepterons pas ce que l’on veut nous imposer. Nous l’avons commencée et nous allons la finir, cette révolution. Par-dessus tout, et nous l’avons déclaré à nos débuts, Allah est avec nous, Allah et personne d’autre que Lui. Nous n’avons que Lui.

Vous voulez savoir “ce que nous ferons” après la révolution. Pour l’instant, on travaille dans la clandestinité afin que tout soit prêt, et il y a une parfaite collaboration entre nous. Nos plans sont arrêtés, mais nous ne pouvons nous dévoiler de peur que l’ennemi ne découvre ce que nous préparons. Tout ce que je peux dire, c’est que nous assurons la coordination entre l’Armée de Libération, les conseils militaires, l’opposition et les différents partis pour nous assurer que la normalité et la loi seront restaurées à la chute d’Assad, afin que le peuple syrien puisse retourner à une vie normale. Nous créerons un jour la transition qui restera en place jusqu’à ce qu’une nouvelle constitution soit adoptée et qu’un nouveau président avec un gouvernement et un parlement soient établis.

R. R. : Quels sont vos projets pour la période post-révolutionnaire, et est-ce que ce que vous avez vécu pendant la révolution les a-t-ils modifiés, et en quoi ?

S. L. : Aujourd’hui, je voudrais acquérir d’avantage d’expérience et m’impliquer activement en politique. Je veux jouer un rôle actif dans la reconstruction et le développement de mon pays et aussi participer à l’aide médicale de mes compatriotes. J’aimerais m’impliquer dans l’aide humanitaire et l’aide sociale car, comme vous le savez, un grand nombre d’adultes et d’enfants ont dû subir des amputations suite aux bombardements du régime. Ces personnes ont besoin de prothèses, tandis que d’autres ont besoin d’être opérés sans tarder. Tout cela va coûter des sommes considérables, aussi avons-nous besoin d’argent et de l’aide d’hôpitaux étrangers.

Je voudrais aussi m’investir dans l’éducation. Comme vous le savez, je suis traducteur et j’aimerais aider à enseigner aux enfants et aux jeunes gens dans les écoles, les collèges et autres établissements scolaires. Le régime a tué un grand nombre de professeurs dans toutes les disciplines, c’est pourquoi nous souffrons d’une grande pénurie dans ce domaine, et il va falloir vraiment mettre les bouchées doubles pour pallier toutes ces vacances. Il nous faudra aussi surveiller les fondations d’un projet éducatif afin de mettre en place un programme d’études accéléré. De cette façon, nous éviterons les difficultés pour des enfants qui ont manqué deux années d’études à cause des bombardements du régime et le chaos qui s’en suivit.

Nous voulons procéder à l’arrestation de tous ceux qui auront été impliqués dans des meurtres, dans la pratique de la torture, des viols et des pillages. Ces personnes seront em prisonnées et jugées. Ceux qui auront commis le pire seront exécutés. Nous ne permettrons à personne d’échapper au châtiment, quelle que soit sa religion. Nous avons tous été confrontés à la persécution, à la terreur et à l’intimidation, et beaucoup trop d’entre nous ont été torturés et/ou assassinés. C’est pourquoi nous voulons justice et dignité pour tous. De manière égale.

Pour conclure, je vous dirai que je veux participer activement au processus politique afin d’aider et représenter mon pays et mon peuple. J’ai toujours l’ambition d’obtenir ma maîtrise de traducteur et d’interprète, même si le régime m’a privé de cette chance en gâchant deux années de ma vie à cause d’une guerre brutale déchaînée contre les syriens eux-mêmes. C’est ce que ce pouvoir nous a imposé, mais nous rejetons ce régime. (original)

Le facce in gigantografia che vedano tutto, anche dopo la morte

Ruth Riegler ha intervistato un attivista in Siria per comprendere la vita che si conduce nella Siria rivoluzionaria. Egli usa uno pseudonomo. Traduzione a cura di Shadi Inomad

RR: Come descriveresti la vita prima della rivoluzione? E quali credi siano state le origini della rivoluzione?

FS: Il mio nome è Libero Siriano (Free Syrian). Voglio dire al mondo perché abbiamo fatto la rivoluzione contro Bashar Al Assad e il suo regime. Tutti nel mondo sanno che si tratta di una grandiosa rivoluzione, ma in realtà nessuno sa quale sia la vera ragione dietro di essa. Te lo dirò io. Voglio che il mondo intero sappia come si viveva prima della rivoluzione e quali sono le ragioni di questa. Vivevamo in un mondo in cui abbiamo dovuto dar retta e obbedire come schiavi – qualunque cosa dicesse il padrone, dovevi obbedire e farlo, e se gli disubbidivi ti puniva o ti uccideva.

Abbiamo vissuto in uno stato di sicurezza, il che significa che siamo stati governati da un presidente e dai suoi militari, dall’intelligence, dagli ufficiali dell’esercito, dalla polizia regolare e quella militare, dagli informatori e dagli shabbiha (bande armate, sono delle milizie paramilitari a base settaria, ossia composta da alawiti, che vengono pagate profumatamente e agiscono a sostegno di Assad, ndr). Quando volevi far qualcosa, dovevi prima ottenere il loro permesso e vedere se le loro regole ti permettevano di farlo o no, il che significava che non avevi il diritto di fare nessuna cosa in modo indipendente e avresti dovuto affrontare degli ostacoli se avessi tentato. Solo il personale del regime poteva vivere liberamente e senza essere governati da delle leggi; potevano fare ciò che volevano senza chiedere, comandando ogni settore, tra cui il sistema politico, il petrolio e il gas, l’economia, le banche, il commercio, i militari, l’agricoltura e l’istruzione. In effetti, si consideravano degli dei.

I siriani erano proibiti dal toccare la loro terra: l’esercito israeliano, addirittura faceva esercitazioni.

Abbiamo vissuto sotto questo regime, che rivendica di essere anti-sionista, ma in realtà questa è solo un’altra menzogna perché per 47 anni non ha mai sparato un solo proiettile contro Israele e ha mantenuto la calma nelle alture occupate del Golan, vietando a qualsiasi siriano di sparare anche un solo colpo contro Israele o di rivendicare questa terra rubata. Chiunque lo avesse fatto sarebbe stato gettato in prigione, punito ed eventualmente ucciso.

Abbiamo vissuto come schiavi, senza alcun diritto. Ci sono stati vietati la scelta di un candidato alla presidenza, lo svolgimento di elezioni libere, la costituzione di partiti politici o la selezione di nostri rappresentanti per il parlamento. Solo ad Assad e alla sua rete di intelligence era concesso scegliere i parlamentari e scelsero le persone più corrotte, senza morale o coscienza, permettendo loro di fare i propri interessi. Se ti fossi opposto a qualunque cosa facessero, saresti stati messo in prigione e ti avrebbero fatto ogni cosa avessero voluto, perché tu non sei nulla per loro.

La gente aveva paura di opporsi o dissentire con il regime o chiunque fosse vicino ai servizi segreti: i siriani impararono a tenere la testa bassa e non dire nulla. Anche se solo avessi maledetto Bashar, sarebbero venuti a prenderti ovunque tu fossi e ti avrebbero portato alla sezione locale dei servizi segreti, senza che nessuno sapesse dove tu fossi o osasse chiedere di te o anche solo nominare il tuo nome. Se volevi dare vita a un movimento politico sarebbe successo lo stesso, perché in Siria abbiamo avuto un solo partito e tutti i siriani erano costretti a farne parte. Se tu avessi evitato il servizio militare obbligatorio e non volessi servire, ti avrebbero imprigionato per tre o più mesi per poi in ogni caso costringerti a fare il servizio militare. Se si fosse morti in custodia dei servizi segreti, nessuno avrebbe chiesto come e perché eri morto e nessuno sarebbe stato ritenuto responsabile per la tua morte, perché la Costituzione conferisce l’immunità completa al presidente, ai suoi servizi di intelligence e i suoi alleati militari. Il popolo siriano è trattato come gli insetti che sono schiacciati sotto i piedi, senza attenzione per i nostri morti.

L’oppressione non si può fotografare, ma la si può sentire ovunque.

Il sistema permetteva al presidente, alle sue forze armate e ai servizi segreti, di arrestare, torturare o uccidere chiunque, di fare quello che volevano di noi, senza che nessuno nel mondo esterno sapesse cosa stava succedendo. La corruzione, il nepotismo e il favoritismo sono la norma in tutte le istituzioni statali e la gente ha imparato a esistere solo e a badare solo ai propri interessi, non chiedendo o aiutando nessuno se non sè stessi, dove solo Assad ei suoi fedelissimi del regime avevano il permesso di fare ciò che volevano; la Siria è la sua fattoria e i siriani sono gli animali.

Vorrei anche fare un accenno sull’economia siriana. Nonostante la scoperta di riserve di petrolio e di gas nel nord-est del paese e di enormi riserve di petrolio e di gas offshore, ci chiedevamo perché questi prodotti fossero così costosi per noi e perché invece compravamo gas e petrolio dall’Iran, Iraq ed Egitto. Abbiamo scoperto che questo accadeva perché Bashar e la sua famiglia rubavano il gas e il petrolio della Siria per venderlo sottocosto alla Russia e ai paesi europei, mantenendo i profitti per sè stessi, mentre noi siriani non avevamo altra scelta che comprare gas e petrolio dalle aziende statali a prezzi elevati – sempre che riuscissimo a trovarne per tutti. Il governo aumentò artificiosamente in modo costante il prezzo del petrolio e del gas e di conseguenza i prezzi di ogni altro bene – pane, riso, zucchero, vestiti, prodotti elettronici, case, tutto – aumentò e continuò a crescere senza mai diminuire. Data la grande ricchezza di petrolio e gas del nostro Paese, questa è la situazione più assurda.

La nostra economia è una farsa. Anche se il governo ha ottenuto aiuti provenienti da altri paesi, qualunque nostra domanda riguardo dove sarebbero finiti tali fondi è rimasta senza risposta. Quando volevamo sviluppare la didattica del paese, la sanità, l’agricoltura, alcuni settori industriali o la sua rete elettrica, il governo disse che avrebbe avuto bisogno di imporre più tasse per farlo, che avrebbe avuto bisogno dell’aiuto di altre nazioni, perché la Siria non aveva le risorse.

Ogni aspetto della vita dei siriani era controllato, l’intelligenza spiava sempre. Ecco la vita sotto degli Assad.

Se un siriano, cercando di vivere una vita dignitosa, avesse voluto avviare una attività produttiva per vendere i nostri propri prodotti, o di importare merci da rivendere, come automobili, vestiti o apparecchiature elettriche, il regime non ce lo avrebbe permesso, a meno che ne avesse una percentuale degli utili e fossero pagate tangenti regolari [oltre le consuete tasse]. Se eri d’accordo, ti avrebbero concesso una licenza di esercizio, ma se ti fossi rifiutato, ti avrebbero respinto la richiesta e creato ostacoli.

Chiunque avesse voluto aprire qualsiasi tipo di negozio, sia un piccolo negozio che venda generi alimentari, o una libreria, un supermercato, un internet café o qualsiasi altra cosa, avrebbe dovuto anzitutto ottenere il permesso da parte dei servizi segreti, prima di richiedere una licenza agli organi statali competenti, e pagare tangenti ai funzionari. Per esempio, se avessi voluto aprire un internet café, avrei dovuto in primis ottnere il permesso dei servizi segreti, quindi andare al ministero della comunicazione e pagare una tangente ai funzionari perché alla domanda fosse dato il suo corso, prima di andare all’ufficio locale del governatorato, poi all’ente dell’istituzione finanziaria, e proseguire con questo groviglio burocratico per mesi prima di non arrivare comunque a ottenere niente. Anche se volevi sposarti e organizzare una festa di nozze, per farlo dovevi prima ottenere il permesso ufficiale dello stato; mi dispiace usare un linguaggio grezzo, ma è una storiella ricorrente tra siriani che anche se tu volessi fare l’amore con tua moglie era prima necessario ottenere il permesso scritto del governo.

Abbiamo anche avuto il servizio militare obbligatorio per ogni uomo di una certa età. Molti fuggono all’estero per lavorare o studiare quando raggiungono i 18 anni, o pagano tangenti per evitare il servizio militare (dai 1000 dollari americani in su, cioè lo stipendio medio annuale di un siriano, ndr). Se non potevi permetterti di viaggiare e lavorare o studiare all’estero e non avessi altro modo per sfuggire alla coscrizione, avresti potuto lavorare per loro come un servo, un autista o una guardia. Se eri in grado di pagare una tangente settimanale agli ufficiali superiori, avresti potuto esser esentato dal servizio e avresti potuto ottenere il permesso di andare a cercare un posto di lavoro o piuttosto rimanere disoccupato. Se avessi potuto permetterti di pagare una tangente maggiore come l’acquisto di un televisore per un alto ufficiale, o di pagare le loro bollette telefoniche, o riparare la sua macchina o facendo un qualsiasi altro servizio utile, avresti potuto essere in grado di evitare il servizio militare per i prossimi due anni, ma dopo ciò avresti dovuti iniziare la tua vita ancora una volta da zero.

I siriani vogliano la libertà

Queste sono alcune delle cose che ci hanno spinto a insorgere contro il regime di Assad. Vogliamo la libertà. Vogliamo scegliere noi stessi la nostra vita. Vogliamo organizzare e rafforzare il nostro paese con le nostre mani. Vogliamo costruire e produrre le nostre merci nei nostri stabilimenti. Vogliamo migliorare l’istruzione della Siria, la salute, l’agricoltura e tutti gli altri settori, che Assad ha ignorato, vogliamo essere innovatori, per costruire le prime automobili e primi treni arabi. Sì, siamo persone come chiunque altro al mondo che vuole dignità. Per tutte queste ragioni noi continueremo a combattere e non torneremo indietro; vivremo la nostra vita con dignità o moriremo come martiri. Vogliamo la libertà.

RR: Puoi brevemente descrivere una giornata tipo in modo da dare ai lettori un’idea di ciò che tu e altri siriani dovete avere a che fare?

FS: Immaginati di svegliarti in una bella mattina di sole, di lavarti il viso e poi bere il tuo caffè, sorridendo al pensiero di quel che otterrai oggi, anche se devi superare degli ostacoli introdotti da parte del governo sul tuo percorso. Quella era la vita prima della rivoluzione.

Ora riusciamo a dormire in orari normali e ci svegliamo presto, sempre che riusciamo a dormire. Tutto ciò che riguarda le nostre vite è cambiato da quando è iniziata la nostra benedetta rivoluzione, il 15 Marzo 2011 a Daraa. Ad ogni modo, lascia che ti dica cosa è cambiato nel mio programma quotidiano e nella vita in generale. Anzitutto, ho comiciato a dormire tardi oppure a mala pena non dormire affatto, svegliandomi sempre per udire esplosioni di bombe, colpi di cannone, spari oppure manifestazioni, giorno e notte. Pure le mie abitudini sono cambiate. Frequentavo un istituto locale di lingua inglese per esercitarmi nella capacità di traduzione e per sviluppare le mie competenze dopo la laurea, così come mi incontravo con un amico per lavorare in modo da trovare il miglior posto per ottenere un master in traduzione. Trovai un posto in un corso a Preston, nel Regno Unito, ma sfortunatamente non sono stato in grado di accettare l’offerta poiché non in possesso di un passaporto e poiché erano stati sospeti i corsi TOEFL al Centro Linguistico Americo nella mia città. Nonostante io abbia anche contattato il British Council per cercare di convincerli ad offrire un corso TOEFL o ILTES nel Regno Unito, non penso che quest’anno riuscirò a iniziare il mio Master e comunque ho perso la mia occasione. Questo non è stato l’unico problema che ho dovuto affrontare da quando, dopo aver cercato per un certo tempo un lavoro, me ne era stato promesso uno l’anno scorso in una società privata di comunicazioni. Tuttavia anche questo è saltato dato che la situazione qui era diventata sempre peggiore. Il fatto che non avessi svolto il servizio militare significava che non potevo lavorare o viaggiare, perché non fare il servizio militare ti preclude la possibilità di fare entrambe le cose, un altro ostacolo per lasciare il paese per fare il mio Master. Questo mi ha fatto sentire senza speranza, senza lavoro e senza la speranza di un Master stavo perdendo il desiderio per la vita e tutto il resto. In seguito il regime cominciò ad uccidere la nostra gente, in un primo momento a Daraa, dove le truppe di Assad usavano proiettili veri contro manifestanti disarmati, e in seguito con carri armati dentro le città. A noi giovani siriani ciò non piacque e cominciammo a manifestare contro questo atteggiamento. Successivamente il regime cominciò ad utilizzare delinquenti e picchiatori in borghese, noti come “shabbiha”, per terrorizzarci, e da allora ha usato di tutto contro di noi.

Prima della rivoluzione ero solito avere tre pasti al giorno, ora ne ho uno solo. Prima dormivo otto ore, ora avrei potuto al massimo dormirne cinque e spesso restavo sveglio fino al mattino. Ho lavorato per far quel che potevo per aiutare i siriani che avevano bisogno di assistenza, nascondendoli e aiutando chiunque avesse bisogno di tradurre notizie o video inviati da altri attivisti. Ricevo un sacco di notizie, le traduco e le condivido ovunque posso, parlando con amici e scambiando opinioni su cosa dovremmo fare. Gran parte delle nostre conversazioni ruotano attorno a come ogni altra nazione del mondo stia sostenendo Bashar affinché rimanga al potere perché non vogliono perdere il loro maialino domestico che protegge Israele e ne preserva la sicurezza nella regione.

Il regime ora ha collocato posti di blocco sulle strade principali in ogni paesino ed in ogni città, e ha chiuso tutte le strade che portano al suo palazzo a Damasco, così come ha posizionato cecchini ovunque, specialmente nelle zone dei ribelli. Se vuoi andare a fare shopping o in palestra, vedere gli amici o andare da qualsiasi parte, le truppe del regime ti feramo ai checkpoints e verificano che il tuo nome non sia inserito nella lunga lista dei soggetti ricercati, di quelli che identificati come attivisti o di quelli che hanno evitato il servizio militare. Se il tuo nome è nella lista, ti arrestano o semplicemente ti sparano sul posto. Ogni giorno dobbiamo passare attraverso questi posti di blocco. Un giorno, di recente, sono andato a trovare degli amici per aiutarli nel lavoro connesso alla rivoluzione. Fui fermato per una mezz’ora ad un checkpoint e cominciai a preoccuparmi. Quando un soldato del regime chiamò il mio nome, andai da lui e gli chiesi quale fosse il problema: mi guardò e mi disse “Prendi la tua carta d’identità e vattene, stai sprecando il nostro tempo alla ricerca del nulla”. Dopo questo avvenimento, decisi che ovunque sarei andato, avrei utilizzato una scorciatoria per evitare i posti di blocco. Recentemente, in un’altra occasione, andai a Barzeh a visitare i genitori di un amico di nome Salim che era stato colpito a morte da un cecchino, per portar loro le mie condoglianze. In quel momento in quella zona vi erano degli scontri feroci tra le truppe del regime e l’ESL. Mentre ero in direzione dell’isolato dove si trovava l’appartamento della famiglia di Salim, un cecchino mi sparò ma mi manco per poco. Realizzai tutto ciò solo quando uno sconosciuto mi tirò verso l’entrata e mi disse “Sei matto? Vuoi morire così in malo modo?”.

La vita sotto i cecchini

Bashar il maiale ha ordinato di piazzare cecchini ovunque e ha dato loro istruzioni di sparare a chiunque essi vogliano. Molti dei miei amici sono stati uccisi dai cecchini, mentre altri sono stati nel mirino ma sono sopravvissuti. Un mio amico di nome Anwar ch era senza paura e partecipava ad ogni manifestazione anti-regime, fu colpito alla testa. Nonostante sia rimasto nel reparti di terapia intensiva per sei mesi, Allah ha evidentemente voluto che continuasse a vivere, con il proiettile che era passato attraverso il cranio. Nonostante sia sopravvissuto, tuttavia ora è parzialmente paralizzato e ha una mobilità molto limitata del suo braccio e della gamba destre. Altri amici sono tra coloro che sono scomparsi dopo esser stati arrestati dalle forze del regime; nessuno sa dove siano o se siano ancora ancora in vita. Uno di loro, un mio caro amico che si chiama Bilal, era sempre solito venire ad ogni manifestazione per sostenere la caduta del regime. Quotidianamente sento di amici che vengono rapiti per ottenere un riscatto, mentre alcuni amici vengono rapiti per strada oppure ai posti di blocco. Alcuni chiamano i loro genitori per chiedere soldi da versare ai rapitori; a meno che il riscatto non sia pagato non gli viene detto dove si trovi il loro bambino.

E’ impossibile descrivere l’interno che stiamo vivendo, senza alcun ordine o stabilità, mentre il mondo sta a guardare e non fa nulla. Molti giovani per sopravvivere fuggono all’estero: altri si uniscono all’ESL, molti dei quali dopo aver defezionato dalle forze del regime che sono sono costretti a servire. Al momento questa è la mia vita in Siria. Ho pensato di entrare nell’ESL. A dire il vero, spesso vorrei fuggire il più velocemente possibile. Già avevo pensato di fuggire e di andare all’estero, ma come ho detto non ho un passaporto e, nonostante abbia chiesto a molti amici e conoscenti di aiutarmi ad uscire, è molto difficile farlo senza passaporto.

Alla fine voglio dire che odio Bashar Al Assad e suo padre da quando sono venuti a governare la Siria. Conosciamo tutta la storia della sua famiglia e quel che hanno fatto. Sappiamo della loro distruzione assassina e sappiamo che Hafez Al Assad ebbe supporto e copertura dei suoi crimi a Hama, Aleppo e Deir El Zour (all’inizio degli anni ’80, ndr) da parte di USA, Russia, Iran e Israele e che questi stessi paesi stanno facendo lo stesso per suo figlio Bashar.

Dopo l’ennesima invasione del campo rifugiati vicino Damasco. Carri armati che hanno devastato anche le macchine.

RR: Come rispondi a quelli che continuano ad insistere sul fatto che Assad è un’icona anti-sionista?

FS: Tutti sappiamo che Hafez Al Assad (che Allah possa maledire lui e suo figlio) ha venduto le alture del Golan ad Israele e che fu responsabile dell’uccisione di molti palestinesi in Libano e Siria per preservare la sicurezza di Israele in Libano. Ora suo figlio Bashar sta facendo la stessa cosa in maniera differente. Ha attaccato molte aree palestinesi presenti in Siria, in particolare a Damasco il campo profughi di Yarmouk, che ho visto con i miei occhi. Se credi che egli sostenga Hezbollah per combattere e sconfiggere Israele, questa è una menzogna. Tutti sappiamo che (Bashar, ndr) ha dato a Hezbollah il via libera di uccidere il leader sunnita Rafiq Al Hariri in Libano, oltre ad esser d’accordo con Nasrallah per migliorare l’immagine di Nasrallah stesso e farlo sembrare un eroe di guerra, ma la guerra del 2007 contro Israele fu un’altra menzogna, semplicemente uno stratagemma per consentire l’espansione di Hezbollah in Libano e far sì che gli sciiti avessero un maggior potere nel paese per permettere all’Iran di avere lì il controllo e realizzare il piano di Teheran per un Medio Oriente sciita, dall’Iran all’Iraq, Siria, Libano, Egitto, Arabia Saudita e Yemen. Bashar Al Assad insiste sempre sul fatto che si oppone a Israele, che egli conduce la resistenza contro Israele stesso. Al che io rispondo: allora perché improgioni, torturi e uccidi i miei amici e decine di migliaia di altre persone in Siria? Perché ammazzi i miei fratelli palestinesi e iracheni? Perché non hai fatto nulla quando gli aerei militari israeliani violarono lo spazio aereo siriano? Non cercare di mentire al popolo siriano, noi ti conosciamo meglio di chiunque altro, lo sappiamo che il tuo lavoro è quello di uccidere noi e proteggere Israele; che Dio ti maledica, figlio di un adulterio.

Homs, molte famiglie cercano il reparo durante un bombardamento

RR: Come fai fronte allo stress per vivere in quella che è a tutti gli effetti una zona di guerra?

FS: E’ molto difficile per noi garantire i nostri bisogni in queste circostanze; viviamo con prudenza e mangiamo e compriamo solo lo stretto necessario. Per me, diventa più difficile sapendo che sono senza lavoro e che mio padre mi sta tuttora aiutando finanziariamente. Vivo con i miei genitori e li aiuto; nella situazione attuale, in Siria la maggior parte delle famiglie allargate è ammassata in una sola casa, con qualcosa come dalle tre alle dieci famiglie separate in ogni casa. La situazione è molto brutta, la maggior parte della Siria, tra il 65 e il 75%, è distrutta. Cerchiamo di acquistare e immagazzinare tutto il cibo che si può, ma alcune zone sono senza niente. In aree come quella di Homs non riescono a trovare alcun cibo e niente con cui proteggersi e mantenersi al caldo. L’inverno presto arriverà, fra due mesi, e vogliamo porre fine a ciò il più presto possibile. La maggior parte delle città siriana non hanno più nulla, Assad ha bruciato la maggior parte delle colture e ha distrutto le case. Io posso mangiare quasi tutti i giorni, ma altri non possono e sono preoccupato per loro. Gli inviamo aiuti ma il regime sta assediando quelle aree, nonostante l’ESL faccia del suo meglio e lavora duramente per fornire aiuti e medicine.

Nessuno ha una minima idea della tragedia che stiamo vivendo, ma i nostri spiriti rimangono forti e tutti noi sappiamo che vinceremo perché Allah è con noi e uccideremo Bashar, inshallah. Continueremo a sostenerci l’un l’altro con cibo, medicine o qualsiasi cosa necessaria per vincere. Voglio sottolineare che il vero esercito del nostro paese è l’Esercito Siriano Libero, l’ESL, e siamo molto orgogliosi di loro. Siamo tutti parte del popolo siriano e saremo tutti uniti: come gridiamo alle nostre manifestazioni, “Uno, uno, uno – il popolo siriano è uno”.

Dov’è il mondo?

RR: Come ti senti circa l’apatia di gran parte del mondo nei confronti della rivoluzione siriana e hai cambiato opinione riguardo la “comunità internazionale”? Se sì, come?

FS: Perché il mondo intero ha benedetto le rivoluzioni in Tunisia, Egitto, Libia e Yemen e le ha sostenute, mentre nessuno ha aiutato o supportato la nostra rivoluzione inSiria o ha cercato di raccontare la verità sulla giustezza della nostra causa? Perché è stato permesso a Russia, Iran, Cina e Iraq di continuare ad aiutare Bashar e il suo regime con armi, denaro, petrolio, benzina e iniziative politiche? Perché le potenze occidentali non hanno cercato di aiutarci creando una no-fly zone, fornendoci le armi necessarie o garantire zone al sicuro per i civili?

Tutte queste domande possono sembrare senza risposta, ma noi siriani sappiamo perché: le potenze occidentali vogliono imporci la loro soluzione con le loro maniere, e questo è ciò che non accetteremo mai. Ma ti dirò quali sono le opzioni o le soluzioni che ci offrono. Vogliono farci accettare le loro condizioni, consentendo a Bashar di rimanere al potere, accordandoci una libertà apparente e dei cambiamenti di facciata creando un governo di unità nazionale. Non vogliono gente nobile o veri ed autentici patrioti così come non vogliono l’ESL; vogliono ucciderli tutti e imporci a loro volontà. Quel che più conta è che vogliono che Israele sia lasciata in pace senza che nessuno possa persino portare qualsiasi pericolo, e come la storia dimostra, Bashar è il miglior candidato per questo. Per questo motivo (le potenze occidentali, ndr) lasciano che Iran, Russia e Iraq lo sostengano inviandogli più armi e truppe per aiutarlo dopo che non avrà più siriani che compiono defezioni di massa in quanto i siriani non lo vogliono. Esse permettono a questi paesi di inviargli soldi e truppe da parte di Hezbollah, dell’Esercito del Mahdy (formazione paramilitare irachena creata nel giugno 2003 dal leader sciita iracheno Moqtada Al-Sadr, ndr) e della Quds Force (letteralmente “Brigata Gerusalemme”, l’unità delle Guardie Rivoluzionarie responsabile dell’esportazione dell’ideologia khomeinista fuori dall’Iran, è guidata dal generale Qasem Suleimani, ndr). Il loro pretesto per consentire ciò è che la questione è difficile e complessa, ma in realtà è molto semplice: vogliamo la libertà. Dateci le armi pesanti necessarie a distruggere i suoi aerei da guerra, carri armati e lanciarazzi e possiamo vincere. Essi sanno che Bashar è estremamente povero così usano anche la scusa che se ci dessero le armi, l’ESL non sarebbe in grado di controllarne l’accesso e Al Qaeda acquisirebbe potere. Ma i siriani sono tutti ben consapevoli che non esiste Al Qaeda nè in Siria nè in nessun paese arabo, e così le potenze occidentali tirarono fuori un’altra scusa: che la nostra opposizione non è unita. Ma in realtà neanchè le opposizioni che rovesciarono regimi in altre nazioni erano unite.

Le potenze occidentali non hanno fatto nulla neanche per i rifugiati siriani in Turchia, Giordania, Libano e Iraq; non hanno inviato loro alcun aiuto reale e non hanno permesso loro di fare nessun lavoro. Non li hanno nemmeno registrati presso le Nazioni Unite (come rifugiati, ndr), li hanno semplicemente lassciati nei campi situati in zone morte in Iraq e Giordania, perché vogliono che i siriani obbediscano ai loro ordini, accettando Bashar Al Asssad e ritornando a vivere sotto il suo regime e se rifiuteranno, verranno puniti lasciandoli senza cibo, acqua o i servizi essenziali. Non ci aiuteranno a ucciderlo, nessuno ci aiuterà. Abbiamo solo noi stessi e facciamo affidanmento solo a Dio, e questo è quel già stiamo facendo ora.

Momento durante un funerale per gli FSA

RR: Come vedi svilupparsi la situazione in Siria nel breve e nel lungo termine, e ti senti ottimista che si possa avere la pace dopo la caduta di Assad?

FS: La situazione si svilupperà in maniera lenta e sanguinosa se non lavoreremo sodo per risolverla. Se siamo in grado di muoverci velocemente per liberar noi stessi sarà il miligior modo per non perdere altri siriani e per salvare ciò che ancora possiamo del nostro popolo, delle nostre proprietà, infrastrutture, economia e tutto il resto. Se lo lasciamo fare ciò che lui, i suoi alleati e le potenze occidentali vogliono, perderemo altre persone e ci sarà un ulteriore spargimento di sangue. Se ciò accade, il bagno di sangue continuerà, sarà un genocidio, con altre migliaia di morti, il paese sarà saccheggiato e depredato dalle sue forze, gli edifici e le infrastrutture saranno distrutti, l’economia devastata, altre migliaia di persone che vivranno in esilio e una fuga di cervelli delle persone migliori che sono essenziali per ricostruire il paese, che sarà lasciato nel caos. Noi siriani non vogliamo nè accettiamo questo, e così lavoriamo sodo tra di noi per unire le nostre forze per ucciderlo e porre al più presto fine a questa terribile situazione. Noi popolo siriano siamo ottimisti perché Allah è con noi e siamo tutti uniti, e crediamo che prestò ci sarà la pace. Se restasse non ci sarebbe nessuna pace, solo più caos e spargimenti di sangue e vivremo nelle tenebre per sempre come schiavi. Ci rifiutiamo di accetare questo per cui preferiamo vivere con dignità oppure morire come martiri. Questa è la nostre opzione preferite, la morte piuttosto che l’umiliazione.

RR: Come vedi la pretesa ripetuta da molti mezzi di informazione che si tratti di una “guerra civile settaria”?

FS: Non vi è una guerra civile settaria: questa è soltanto propaganda usata e promossa dal regime e in altri paesi. Essi sostengono che se il regime crolla ci sarà la guerra civile e la gente che si ammazza a vicenda, ma se rimane manterrà integra la società siriana. Questa è una menzogna sfacciata; quello a cui il regime e loro (le potenze straniere, ndr) stanno lavorando è dividere la Siria in regioni autonome come in Iraq, ai Curdi uno stato nel nord-est, ai drusi uno nel sud e agli alawiti uno sulla costa siriana, mentre ai sunniti rimarrebbe il resto. Questo è il loro piano e Bashar sta lavorando duramente per realizzare la sua ambizione di uno stato alawita-sciita. Si dimenticano però che fin dall’inizio della rivoluzione il nostro moto è stato “Uno, uno, uno – il popolo siriano è uno”.

Il regime spinge sul settarismo mentre il popolo siriano la pensa diversamente

Questa nazione è per tutti: qualunque sia la tua religione, setta o gruppo tu sei siriano e appartieni alla Siria. Tutte le sette del popolo siriano rifiutano questo piano di dividere la nazione e si sono appellate all’unità. Durante la rivoluzione ho incontrato e parlato con siriani alawiti, sciiti, cristiani, drusi e sunniti e tutti hanno respinto questi piani per dividerci. Tutti invochiamo l’unità – un popolo una nazione, anche se il regime ha tentato più volte di armare sette diverse e dirigerle l’una contro l’altra, per creare divisioni tra di noi. Per quanto (il regime, ndr) si sforzi, non permetteremo di essere manovrati in questo modo, e di combattere e uccidere l’un l’altro – siamo tutti fratelli e sorelle.

Infine, voglio dire una cosa in più: prima che la nostra rivoluzione cominciasse, abbiamo tutti vissuto in pace e armonia. Io vivevo personalmente in un condominio con vicini sciiti, ebrei e cristiani. I miei amici appartengono a tutte le sette, ci amiamo vicendevolmente e viviamo assieme.

RR: Pensi che questa esperienza ti ha cambiato come persona? Se sì, in che modo?

FS: Sì, mi ha cambiato e ha accresciuto la mia consapevolezza riguardo il complotto globale volto a garantire il fallimento della nostra rivoluzione. Ho anche scoperto che l’intero mondo guarda solo ai propri interessi e non si preoccupa nient’altro che di sè stesso. Non credo più nella retorica delle Nazioni Unite e delle organizzazioni non governative, che si tratti di Human Rights Watch, UNICEF, UNICO, della Corte penale internazionale, del CJI o di qualsiasi altra cosa. Il mondo intero non è riuscito ad ideare un programma per aiutare i siriani in Siria o i rifiugiati nei paesi limitrofi o addirittura tenere una riunione di donatori. Anche la conferenza “Amici della Siria” non ha ottenuto nulla; stanno solo a guardarci e a lasciarci uccidere con il sostegno russo e iraniano.

La rivoluzione mi ha comunque dato una speranza in un modo: vuoi sapere come? Mi ha insegnato che quando si incontrano problemi o ostacoli nella vita, nessun altro se non solo una manciata di veri amici si preoccuperanno o aiuteranno te e le tua famiglia, devi fare da solo e aiutare gli altri nella stessa situazione in qualunque maniera. Mi ha reso più consapevole e orgoglioso del mio popolo e del mio paese e di cosa dobbiamo fare per porre fine a ciò. Siamo gente pacifica e abbiamo delle risorse. Possiamo ricostruire noi stessi e il nostro paese, sviluppare le nostre competenze già esistenti e imparare nuove abilità. Ora sono più responsabile di quello che ero: voglio costruire me stesso, sviluppare le mie competenze, acquisire maggiori conoscenze e condividerle con la mia gente. Voglio tramandare alle generazioni future che abbiamo combattuto e sacrificato le nostre vite per ottenere la libertà e che non dovremo mai più accettare chiunque si credi un dio e ritenga di avere il diritto divino di governarci per sempre, ma dovremo eleggere solo leader altruisti che hanno a cuore il popolo siriano e la nazione piuttosto che l’auto-arricchimento.

Voglio sottolineare che la rivoluzione è nelle nostre mani. Credo che il mondo abbia bisogno di cambiare e realizzare che tutte le persone del pianeta sono uguali e gli deve essere concesso di ottenere la libertà. Ho anche scoperto che quelli che si definiscono “leader arabi” e governano paesi arabi sono in realtà infidi mandatari di poteri esterni o sempcliemente non si preoccupano affatto degli arabi.

RR: In cuor tuo, per quanto tempo ancora pensi che la rivoluzione possa continuare e cosa pensi che sia probabile che accada nel periodo successivo alla rivoluzione?

FS: Quando iniziammo questa rivoluzione, sapevamo che non saremmo mai tornati indietro e siamo ancora consci di questo: dopo tutto quello che abbiamo passato e sacrificato, saremmo condannati se soltanto considerassimo di ritornare a come stavano le cose; questa è la nostra risposta definitiva. Tutto ciò che Bashar ha commesso contro di noi e continua a farlo senza pause, lo ha fatto con il crescente supporto di Israele, Russia, Iran e China; abbiamo dimostrato al mondo che continua a negare il loro coinvolgimento, che truppe iraniane, russe e di Hezbollah sono state catturate in ogni città siriana, con ognuno di essi in possesso di documenti comprovanti ciò. Inoltre, abbiamo ottenuto dei documenti ufficiali del regime che dimostrano che Bashar ha importato sempre più soldati sciiti da Iran, Libano e Iraq, compresi dei membrei della Guardia Rivoluzionaria iraniana, con la Russia e altre nazioni che gli inviano armi così come delle truppe. Nonostante tutto questo, tuttavia, il suo regime sta perdendo la battaglia, ma i suoi alleati e le potenze occidentali vogliono che rimanga e continuare a coprirlo in qualsiasi modo possibile. Sfortunatamente per loro, noi sconfiggeremo lui e loro e lo uccideremo presto, inshallah.

Soldati del Esercito Libero Siriano entrano in una zona di Aleppo quasi raso al suolo dall’esercito del regime.

Quindi, se mi chiedete quanto tempo ancora continuerà la rivoluzione, io dico che la continueremo fino a quando non lo avremo ucciso e cacciato Russia, Iran e Hezbollah dal nostro paese. Nessuno in Siria accetterà di farla finita ora perché ogni famiglia in ogni villaggio, paesino o città siriane ha almeno un martire, un detenuto, una vittima di un rapimento da parte delle forze del regime o un membro della famiglia spinto verso l’esilio.

Lo sai che ha annientato molte famiglie intere? Lo sai che ha distrutto la maggior parte delle città e ha arrestato più di 250 mila persone? Lo sai che ora sta punendo collettivamente ogni persona in qualsiasi area che si è opposta a lui (la maggior parte della Siria) e che le sue forze stanno avvelenando le forniture di acqua e di prodotti alimentari, anche prendendo di mira i forni per fare in modo che la gente muoia di fame? Lo sai che le sue forze stanno negando le medicine e le cure mediche, bombardando ospedali e prendendo di mira il personale medico nella speranza che questo costringerà il popolo siriano ad obbedirgli? Noi gli diciamo, vai all’inferno!

Tutto il mondo lo vede e non fa nulla, scusandosi dicendo “E’ difficile e complicato” ma in realtà è molto semplice – i siriani vogliono liberarsi dalla dittatura – e potrebbero aiutare se solo lo volessero. I siriani sanno tutto questo. Continueremo e ci sosterremo a vicenda nonché sosterremo e combatteremo per l’ESL. Qualunque cosa Bashar faccia, noi non ci fermeremo; ogni uomo, ogni donna e ogni bambino si batterà fino all’ultimo respiro. Non acceteremo quel che il mondo vuole per noi, non indietreggieremo di un passo nè accetteremo quel che ci vogliono imporre. Abbiamo cominciato questo e noi lo porteremo a conclusione. E soprattutto, lo abbiamo detto fin dall’inizio, Allah è con noi e Allah e nessun al di fuori di Allah è co noi. Non abbiamo nessuno se non Allah.

Mi stai chiedendo “cosa farai dopo la rivoluzione?” Stiamo lavorando sotto copertura, per preparare tutto e cooperare tra di noi. Abbiamo progetti in atto ma il problema è che non possiamo rivelarli per timore che le persone sbagliate scoprano ciò che stiamo progettando. Tutto quello che posso dire è che stiamo coordinandoci tra l’ESL, i consigli militari, l’opposizione e i vari partiti per garantire che la normalità e lo stato di diritto siano ripristinati una volta caduto il regime, in modo che il popolo siriano possa ritornare a condurre una vita normale. Creeremo un governo di transizione che rimarrà in vigore fino a quando una nuova costituzione sarà stata creato e saranno decisi un nuovo presidente, un nuovo governo e un nuovo parlamento.

RR: Quali sono i tuoi progetti per il periodo post rivoluzionario? Le tue esperienze di vita attraverso la rivoluzione li hanno cambiati? Se sì, come?

FS: A dire il vero, mi piacerebbe far esperienza ed essere attivamente coinvolto in questioni politiche. Voglio avere un ruolo attivo nella ricostruzione e nello sviluppo del mio paese, e aiutare a fornire ciò che è necessario come il cibo e le medicine. Mi piacerebbe essere coinvolto negli aiuti e nell’assistenza umanitaria perché, come sai, ora abbiamo molti adulti e bambini amputati che hanno perso gli arti in attacchi del regime per cui hanno bisogno di arti artificiali, così come ci sono persone che necessitano di interventi chirurgici urgenti. Tutto ciò verra a costare miliardi per cui abbiamo bisogno di raccogliere fondi o di ricevere aiuto da ospedali all’estero.

Mi piacerebbe essere coinvolto nel sistema educativo. Come sai, sono uno traduttore e mi piacerebbe aiutare a insegnare ai bambini e ai giovani in scuole, università e altre istituzioni educative. Il regime ha ucciso docenti in molti settori per cui abbiamo una carenza enorme a riguardo e dobbiamo lavorare sodo per riempire questi posti vacanti e sovrintendere all’attuazione di un piano di vera educazione per introdurre un programma di apprendimento accelerato al fine di evitare problemi futuri per quei ragazzi che hanno già perso due anni di insegnamento a causa dei bombardamenti del regime e il caos ha significato che non avrebbero potuto continuare la loro educazione.

Noi vogliamo catturare tutti i soggetti coinvolti in uccisioni, torture, stupri e sacchegghi, per giudicarli, imprigionarli e giustiziare i peggiori colpevoli. Non permetteremo a nessuno di sfuggire alla pena a causa della propria setta. Siamo stati tutti esposti senza discriminazione alla persecuzione, terrore e intimidazione, e troppi sono stati torturati e/o uccisi per cui vogliamo giustizia e dignità allo stesso modo per tutti.

Infine, voglio partecipare attivamente al processo politico per aiutare e rappresentare il mio paese a la mia gente. Ho ancora l’ambizione di ottenere un Master in Traduzione e Interpretariato, anche se il regime mi ha privato di questa opportunità fino ad oggi e ha sprecato due anni della mia vita in una guerra brutale contro il popolo siriano. Questo è ciò che ci è stato imposto ma tuttora rifiutiamo il regime.

Originale in inglese

By Wissam Al Jazairy

There are two ways of experiencing a social upheaval of epic proportions: directly or indirectly. Naturally, if one is directly affected by restrictions, uprisings, detention, revolution, attacks, blockades, shortages of utilities, medicine and food, migration and so forth, they are going to be connected to the event in a visceral way and this of course helps to define the nature of the event as being positive or negative.  There is a DIRECT relationship between what is happening and an improvement or a worsening in their lives. It is a relationship that is dependent upon reality and the “timeline” of their narrative is going to be “before” the event and “after” it. There is little abstraction going on, as, for example, you simply know that “before” you lived in your home and “after”, you were marching towards a refugee camp because not only your home, but your entire town no longer exists, and you know who did that to you as well!  No one has to inform you that this is a bad situation. No ideology could ever be more meaningful to you than the fact that your life has been totally changed (for the worse) from what it was before.

It’s obvious that those who live outside areas of upheaval are not going to have these experiences in order to judge the events, and judging them is what we tend to do naturally if we are “activists”. We tend to see them in a bigger picture and part of a greater struggle. Therefore, as indirectly involved, we have a few choices at our disposal. We can view events (and people) in a prism that comforts us or at least fits into what we think we already know (our ideology or beliefs), we can take the road of empathy and identify with the persons directly involved, we can remain indifferent, uninvolved and choose to ignore any information until it DOES directly involve us, if it ever would have that destiny. We can even attempt to tightrope walk in a combination of all of them, depending upon our mood, our social interactions, our interests.

Then there are degrees of indirect involvement. It often relates to the concept of “identity politics”: where a person relates to an event according to a perceived degree of identification with those directly involved in any event. Taking the Syrian uprising into consideration in this paper, it is clear that all Syrians around the world have a connection to Syria and have its interests at heart. I doubt that there is even one Syrian who washes his or her hands of the entire situation, even if they may find themselves on diametrically opposed sides. However, one important matter must be acknowledged: that there are indeed persons who are directly affected and whose lives have been shattered, and that the facts supporting the amount of destruction, the number of deaths and refugees and even the dynamics of the various massacres can in no way be denied. It is beyond ridiculous to imagine that we can turn back the clock to a time when we were not connected in real time, when news of massacres only reached a small public in whispered tones, knowing that the details were too horrible to even be believed. Any town in the world that has some sort of access to communication is fully able to see documents such as photographs and films of the real events happening in Syria at this very minute. They can judge if there are protests, battles, massacres by what they see.

Dealing with cognitive dissonance

There is actually a tricky part of this whole thing though: if we AREN’T directly involved, whatever decision we make will turn out to be an ethical choice. Unless we are completely alienated and detached from the suffering of others, not to mention living in a vacuum, the suffering going on in Syria smacks us in the face day after day and hour after hour. If the sight of torture, destruction and death makes us feel bad, chances are we are normal and we will experience some level of cognitive dissonance. We know that things we are witnessing (or being shown) are “bad” or even “unacceptable” or “evil”, depending on our linguistic habits, but since we are not in the habit of outspokenly endorsing evident ethnic cleansing and carpet bombing of Arab cities and villages, we may find ourselves taking refuge in the cosy world of “punditry” and “analysis”, where the idea and intention (real or imagined) bears more weight than isolated events (even if they are repeated thousands and hundreds of thousands of times). It is clear that punditry is the easiest road for the self-identifying human rights activist, because we all have a body of literature that slips all events into a meta-narrative (in the case of punditry that calls itself “anti-imperialist”, but is actually the sum equivalent of counter-revolutionary thought, where the leader is preferred and supported over the rebelling masses for perceived value he has in an ideological framework) and we can selectively analyse specific events in order to prove our points and especially settle our painful cognitive dissonance.

It’s a bit of a disaster though, because it assumes that the indirect experience, nay, the ANALYSIS is actually more relevant than the direct experience. It puts us in the even MORE uncomfortable position of being the “great white hope”, the one who “knows better than “the other” what’s Best for the Other”, though we attempt to not let that fact bother us, as we are cognisant that most of us are unwilling and unable to leave the comfort of the West and its trappings such as banks, iPads and all the pluggable things we adore more than humans. We have the opportunity of justifying what we normally would not be able to justify by means of adopting a “more important” ideological stance, and we assume others will be able to understand that we are not any kind of privileged person, but instead we benefit of our years of activism and awareness and just plain “intelligence”, seeing things ordinary folk can’t see!

A few anti-interventionists in London are selective about what intervention they reject

In addition to our ability to be physically far from war, we are even lucky enough to have the assistance of critical distance, the only thing that allows analysis and lets us paint over the grey areas (we can decide even which meta-narrative we can focus on, tailoring our interventions to our public. If the consumers of punditry are Westerners like us, (as 90% of them are) we can assume they do not want to be involved in interventionist wars (Western intervention, that is) and they will respond to a group of code words, they will take on and utilise in discourse new ones such as “sectarian” without requiring mental strain of figuring out if this is truly the case in point. We can vary the theme a bit by going for the generic pacifism/no war framework if the complexities of historical events in mass movements in the Arab world is beyond our grasp. And there is a beauty to all of this: we can still consider ourselves as superior ethical beings, because we are not ignoring (and we would never admit we are facilitating something negative!) the situation, but instead we can remain great humanitarian activists who are looking out for the best interests in those populations who do not have the dialectical positions we have. We resolve our painful cognitive dissonance and at the same time give ourselves hefty pats on the backs for being so very clever and anti-imperialist.

I believe I am like most of the others reading this: not directly involved, but not able to avoid the empathic response of shock and disgust at the violence, yet also deeply entrenched in my “activist identity” that seeks to analyse what is seen within a larger framework. This means that I am a consumer of punditry, and for better or worse, the vast majority of it is done by those who might move onto the next “hot spot”, and that means that whatever the outcome, it’s not going to affect them personally, because it’s someone else’s lives, someone else’s country. So, the logical assumption is that if you are not personally involved, your stakes in the situation are completely different than those who are involved, and your “personal” stakes may not at all be lofty ideals such as “saving the Arab people from the evil empire”, since the evidence that imperial interests are the driving force in the uprising of the Syrian people is nil. The personal stakes may quite simply be learning to live with yourself after seeing what is objectively “unacceptable” violence committed by the regime with very little excuse for this except that they CAN.

How is that done? Simple! Claim that the justification of the violence is a greater cause or that “both sides” commit unacceptable deeds. The fact that you will always find a bit of evidence to justify that thesis comes in handy, and it avoids the need to actually ANALYSE, but to stick selected evidence into a pre-conceived analysis. You can use even contradict yourself, no one is keeping score! If in January there was NO such thing as Al Qaeda, in August they can be the driving force of the “rebels”.  If you spent years stressing the absolute right of the Palestinians to select for themselves parties that are overtly Islamic, no one will spend too much effort to point out the hypocrisy of determining that Assad “needs” to stay in power to guarantee a Secular Syria. No one will point out the vaguely Islamophobic comments that you might make as you lump all the freedom fighters into the “Salafist” bag. And do not worry that people are going to argue that the concept of a wider “homeland” has always been a part of uprisings in the Arab world, that the Umma should at least theoretically participate in the struggles and armed conflicts where called upon.

The kitsch aesthetic reigns supreme in self-styled pundits

If you are like me, you have read dozens of articles that bear lots of information but almost no factual data. Much of this information is by self-styled pundits, quite kitschy most of the time, who have no direct access to information, and what they actually do is pass off regime dispatches as being their independent analysis. RT, Press TV and Global Research are going to tell you about hundreds (and at times thousands) of troops of Libyan soldiers fighting in Syria, but that is pretty much all you will ever find out about them, though meaningless and fact-deprived mega titles like this will float from article to article:

The “Free Syrian Army” is Al Qaeda, led, armed, funded by Western-backed LIFG (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group) terrorists.

No need to prove any of that! Just saying it is enough, and throw in the word “terrorist” referred to Arab fighters and you can actually take almost any analysis by the Neocon Think Tanks and arrange it to suit your needs.

And this is the problem: Those who are closer to the revolution / uprising because they identify with the persons actually undergoing these events are reacting empathically, humanely and emotionally. They believe that it is sufficient to show the world what is going on and human decency will do the rest, will stop saying “this is unacceptable” and will MAKE it unaccepted. Those who are farthest away, whose involvement with it is fickle, transitory and laden with the cognitive dissonance that forces them to justify atrocities are the ones analysing the situation. They are not presenting all that is seen, but are clipping out those things that support the effort they are making in order to continue to back a regime that is objectively engaged in violence against a civilian population that is obscene. They will point to the Palestinian cause, repeating the regime’s slogans that have no support in truth! It is clear that if the regime has shelled the Palestinian refugee camps (bringing about destruction and also the death of over 400 Palestinians) because these places are considered as supportive of the revolution, there is something in that argument that is enormously flawed!

Russian Veto serves Assad

If they are using the “no intervention” argument, they simply ignore the fact that there is heavy intervention and actual material support of the regime from Iran, Russia and Hezbollah. It is not a theory, it is actual fact. If they claim that the UN veto serves the interest of imperialism and the West and has been a grotesque miscarriage of Justice regarding Palestine, the veto of Russia and China to sanctions is seen in a completely different light. If the No Fly Zone was slammed for Libya, is labelled as a NATO device when applied to Syria we have to simply ignore that, “I Support a No Fly Zone Over Palestine” was a campaign that was adhered to particularly by these same pundits. Or, could it be that there are some humans who are more human than others and whose rights are worth stopping at nothing to protect?

The range of arguments that these people use is often contradictory, almost always lacks research and most of the time is detached from the will and reality of the persons who are directly involved. Even the idea borrowed from the pro-Assad people outside Syria who do not see the pro-regime intervention but are obsessed with that of the uprising, whether that intervention is real or imagined which states: “let Syrians settle it among themselves”. This is a way to avoid the internal conflict of being an “activist” in someone else’s struggle and urging that all issues are resolved without others butting in. Non-intervention is selective, and it follows the trends.

I would like to close this paper by making two points. The first is that since we have shifted much of this war into the “social sphere” where communication happens, we are aware of the weight of conformance to social conventions in our interactions. We are horrified at the prospect of clashing with those who in the past have had such accurate insights or at least who along general lines followed the same ideas we did, those of the revolutionary struggle for freedom from oppression and a people’s rights to self-determination. This means that many of us, accepting these paradigms of justification of human rights violations have removed our critical abilities in a lazy manner. We simply fail to recognise the hypocrisy that exists where Pro-Palestine activists are posting up hateful pictures of icons of the resistance, Shiehk Raed Salah, Azmi Bishara, or journalists and writers such as Khalid Amayreh or Elias Khoury only because they have insisted that the Syrian liberation struggle is a struggle of an oppressed people against a tyrant and that this tyrant has continually put the “rights” of Israel before the rights of the Palestinians and Syrians.

One of the more intricate “proxy war” maps, though it ignores Israel, unlike some of the simpler ones circulating

It is ironic that these pundits specialised in revolutionary slogans are busy labelling the uprising and revolution, brought ahead heroically by the brave Syrian people almost single-handedly, as a “Proxy War against Iran”, which is not only a meaningless phrase but it takes away any agency that the Arab and Syrian people have in determining their own fate and making their own history. They will also tie into this concept all the regional and international powers, as if they are the point and Syria is not an issue. And it’s not only the anti-imperialists who have a problem, there is something really wrong in pacifists who are busy equating the massacre of almost 700 people in a day to the throwing off the roof of two snipers who had been killed in combat. It simply defies a sense of measure, a sense of perspective and reality!

The second point I want to make is that while the pro-revolution faction outside Syria is very busy in the noble task of disseminating the information that leaks out of Syria, at times with enormous difficulty, informing the entire world of the situation there, and honouring the martyrs with the testimony of their suffering, it is missing out on the “analysis” aspect. It is a shame that of the thousands of analytical items to read, half of them are reprints of the same 3 or 4 articles by faraway pundits (often without experience or credentials) in London, Chicago, Naples or Florida. If some of them are nearer, they have a specific dog in the fight, and they themselves are “obsessed” about sectarianism, so they see it in everyone else, whether it is there or not. I believe that we activists who are both empathic and who support the people of Syria in their struggle for freedom have to make an extra effort to fight the propaganda, to debunk the fallacy of the information presented as argument (lacking the evidence, the big words such as Imperialist fly!) The truth is on our side, but the Assad-supporting activists are beating us in the information game only because they are required to play it so that they can look at their faces in the mirror and not hate who they see.

Soubhi Dachan

Syria has finally earned a place in the Italian news after almost a year and a half since it began. In the eyes of the Italian public it is “another war that no one can figure out” that erupts between the usual squabbles of our politicians in our news. Opposition to the regime in Italy has its own path, but in many instances, it matches that in Syria. To help us understand this war and these oppositions that are already part of history, we interviewed a Syrian opposition figure in Italy, Soubhi Dachan. His words bring us to think that even though there are now two factions that are clearly military, this cannot be called a civil war, but rather a response to genocide born of the violent response to the peaceful popular uprising. And not only is it a declared genocide, but it uses a strong propaganda to paint itself in a different way, a genocide that is “observed” by all the powers in the region and beyond, when it is not actually being fuelled by them. 

How did the revolt in Syria begin? Who is rebelling and to what?

28 Children in Daraa. 28 Children were the fuse that sparked the revolt. 28 elementary school children who returned from school, had written a phrase written on the wall that they had seen on satellite broadcasters, taken from the huge demonstrations in the Arab world: the people want the fall of the regime.

28 children have unleashed the fury of demons in power for 40 years in the Syrian state, who have used 18 different security services to repress the people.

During the night, a unit of these services led by a relative of the tyrant Assad made a house to house raid and took all 28 children.

The lifeless body of 13 year old Hamza al Khatib, tortured and killed by Assad’s security forces

The next day, the chief of the tribe (in Daraa there is a very strong concept that a tribal chief is more respected and followed than the mayor of the city or other important figure) went to the police station where he met the cousin of the president.

The tribal chief asked him to release the children and bring them back to their families, safe and sound, and he promised to severely punish their misbehaviour and their offense and promised to pay a tax for this uncouth act.

The commander literally said: “Tell their families that their children no longer exist. Tell them to make different ones. And if the women’s husbands do not know how to do it, bring them to us, we’ll take care of getting them pregnant.”

The tribal chief who wore the white veil on his head with a black band, took the black band and put it on the table. In Bedouin language this means that there is no room for dialogue, and that children will be freed by force.

And so began the revolt.

Is it part of the wave of uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa for an ideal of freedom and change, or has it got aspects that make it different from other revolts?

When we saw the satellite broadcasters with the first Arab uprisings we erupted with joy. When we saw the first movements in Syria, we immediately were concerned because only the Syrians know the criminality of this system and how it is supported by various powers for a variety of regional / international

Map by Limes Rivista Geopolitica

Is it a civil war fueled by sectarianism?

In Syria, Civil War is a card that the regime is trying to use all costs, in order to show to that the minority that the regime is their only salvation. In Syria there is no sectarian problem, unlike other countries we are talking about hundreds of years of peaceful coexistence and not just tolerance. Syria was an example of civilisation where even the Christian denominations or less persecuted people in Europe found refuge.

In Syria, there is an ongoing revolt against a tyrant where all members of civil society, ethnic and religious groups are taking part. Not for nothing in Homs, the first military formation of deserters was made ​​up of Christians, Muslims and Alawites.

Does it makes sense to talk about reforms, elections, governance systems and democracies during an uprising or war?

Not only does it not make sense, but it is a way to continue to give further legitimacy to a tyrant who has no equal in recent history. Even the tyrants of past history used their cruelty in the conquest of other peoples and not to defend the interests of some other nation, massacring its own people.

To talk about all these things is to continue to justify the genocide of the Syrian people.

The revolt is armed or peaceful, given the reason for the revolt, is there a prejudice against the nature of the uprising, does it lose its value if it ceases being peaceful?

The uprising has been the most peaceful revolt in living memory. For nine months, the people responded to gunfire and bombs with flowers. They started their protest demanding reforms, the snipers are what they got in return. They then went out more numerous in street demonstrations, demanding justice, with chants, processions, prayers. In return their unarmed crowds were shelled. For nine months the Syrian people responded to torture, abuse, rapes, kidnappings, well, the people responded with the slogan “the Syrian people are one and united, the Syrian people want freedom, the Syrian people want the fall of the regime”.

Photo by Salah Methnany

The main slogan of the revolution was and remains today “Peaceful, Peaceful, Peaceful.”

The revolution has been dubbed by opponents as the “revolution of dignity and freedom”.

After nine months of massacres, deserters and not the people have decided to take up arms in defense of the people and not as a form of attack. After 12 months of bloodshed even some sections of the people had taken up arms, exclusively in defense of their dignity, their families, their people.

And despite this, even today the rebels beg the people to continue to demonstrate peacefully, even in the refugee camps, roads, cemeteries, at every march.

Is the terminology that the mass media uses “revolt, opposition, rebel” and so on correct? What are the words to properly report what is happening in Syria?

The media has behaved in a shameful manner. They still speak of the Syrian revolution of the flowers from the mouth of the Syrian regime or its affiliates. The peaceful demonstrators were called rebels. The deserters were called armed groups. The unarmed people has been called faction in the war.

The media have contributed significantly to the massacre of the Syrian people.

Syria is undergoing a mass genocide. The puppet Assad, has strict orders not to leave power until Syria will no longer have an army, it will have no more security, no more facilities, infrastructure, civil and military institutions etc. .. In Syria the cancellation of a civilisation is taking place, the destruction of churches and mosques, the systematic violation of human rights, of international conventions.

In Syria there is an ongoing genocide. Mass rapes, slashing the throats of people, women, elderly and children. Destruction of everything, cultivated fields, houses, monuments with thousands of years of history. In Syria there is the destruction of humanity.

Who is the SNC and what role does it have in the revolt?

The SNC is the Syrian National Council. It was born after about 6 months from the start of the uprising with the aim to give a voice to the Syrian people in all its facets and not be merely a show entity. This is because the word opposition in Syria has remained a taboo for 40 years, the only form of opposition that has remained for 40 years has been the Muslim Brotherhood, which is why there was a law that immediately put to death anyone suspected of belong to this organisation.

The Syrian National Council was created as a technical  and diplomatic support abroad for the revolution. It incorporated within itself the majority of members of Syrian society, secular people, Christians, Alawites, Sunnis, Shias, Druze, Kurds, members of tribal societies, secular formations, Islamic formations, etc. ..

It was chaired by Burhan Ghalioun for two terms, a secular Muslim and in third term the mandate was given to Abdulbasit Sida, a Syrian Kurd.

One of the reasons why at the international level it has not been recognised for a long time is that the Syrian National Council includes the various components of Syrian society, and the willingness of some world powers was to isolate some important components of Syrian society, in perfect dictatorial style.

In this regard a round of applause goes to the previous and current Italian government which have listened unlike the media and other institutions, very carefully the Syrian people and not the genocidal regime and has been one of the first governments in the world to send assistance and field hospitals and it has been busy at an international diplomatic level in support of the Syrian people.

Who are the Muslim Brotherhood?

The Muslim Brotherhood is a grassroots movement that is inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt. It is a peaceful movement that joins together aspects of governance, education, religion, politics and diplomacy, civil status and rights of minorities. It was founded in Syria by Syrian intellectuals and religious people, and has had tremendous popular support. When Hafez al-Assad came to power he persecuted them and forced them to take up arms to defend themselves, but then given the massacre of Hama in 1982 (more than 50,000 dead) the brotherhood were deprived of their arms and were exiled (in those lucky instances in which they were able to escape,) tortured, imprisoned, killed and denied their existence in Syria. Even their relatives were persecuted, this is why they left Syria.

Free Syrian Army in Azzaz

Who is the Free Syrian Army?

The first soldier to desert was a soldier of Daraa. They ordered him to shoot shells on people demonstrating peacefully. He called his father and asked him, what should I do, my father? He said, “Never must you bear arms against your people.” He was the first soldier to be killed by the regime. Then the first unofficial faction was that of Al Rastan, Homs about 5 months after the revolt started. An entire division turned their backs on the officers. This division still today resists. Then there was the one in Lattakia, where its soldiers took refuge in the Palestinian refugee camp, only to be bombed from the sky and from the sea by the militias of Assad.

The Free Syrian Army was officially founded around the eighth month of the uprising, when several commanders who had defected decided to constitute it and give some kind of organisation to all the soldiers who had decided not to turn their weapons against their own people, their own blood. Signing a pact of honour in defense of the Syrian people and asking the Syrian people not to join the army but to continue to demonstrate peacefully. Then the situation evolved and many of the protesters have joined the army. Today the volunteers of the free Syrian army not of military origin are about 50% of the forces.

How come there is no global attention on the Syrian issue, and why even with multiple reports also being published by global organisations like the UN and Human Rights Watch, does there seem to begreat indifference?

Syria is at the crossroads of world interests. The strategic location, the proximity to Israel, the ability of the system to play with popular topics such as the Palestinian issue, defense and protection of minorities etc. .. means that the regime is still supported today by world powers, in that it is convenient for the protection of their interests in the area. The Syrian regime has never allowed a different point of view, has never allowed in Syria anything at all but the voice of the regime itself. It put all the people of the leader’s sect in key centres of power, from the institutions as simple as those of workers, up to the military.

The media willingly speaks little of Syria and when they do, it is done in a chaotic way. And this is despite the massive presence of videos, documents, photos and eyewitnesses as the UN forces or satellites. In any other part of the world headlines would have documented daily what happens. But not for the Syrian issue.

This is why journalists and their sponsors are criminals in equal measure to the tyrant and his henchmen with their shameful complicity and their disgraceful silence.

What role could the external forces, the UN, NATO, the ICC, the European Union, the Arab League, and so on undertake and what you think their objectives should be?

All these forces are bound by the opinion of the great powers. Those who say that the international community is unable to support the Syrian people are obviously liars. If the international community decided to help the Syrian people, within a week Syria would be free. It would take 100 stinger missiles and weapons to the rebels. Something that so many claim is taking place, but no one is actually doing.

Unfortunately Syria is going through a complex of international isolation. Even when countries such as Turkey, Italy and other countries still sincerely want to help the Syrian people, they find themselves blocked by the various powers from east to west. The story of the veto is a farce, everyone is in agreement to keeping the puppet in place, each for its own purposes. There are those who have the will to destabilise the entire Middle East area. This is why all these interests join together in the support of the puppet Assad. Who continues to serve his masters undaunted in order to remain in power.

Devotion to Assad

Has Assad got support in Syria?

Assad is backed by his confessional group, the Alawites but not all of them, and by the various people with whom he entertained business and other opportunists who lived the good life at the expense of the entire population. Some parts of the ethnic and religious minorities support him not for love, but for fear of being left in the cold in the future Syria. Which is clearly a result of the regime’s propaganda, because minorities were ministers and officials in the Islamic governments or any rate in the times prior to the Assads. This is part of the work of the regime, which, as has been shown now, tried to spark a civil war in Lebanon targeting the Christian patriarch who would have to visit a Muslim quarter. Thank God the plot was discovered in time.

His power is governed only by military force, Assad has no support in Syria. And the military is strong thanks to the continuous reinforcements arriving from neighbouring states in both arms in soldiers and mercenaries.

You as insurgents abroad, why you oppose the regime?

Opponents abroad fall into two categories: those who have opposed for 40 years and those who opposed during the uprising. What is certain is that both have never loved the regime. The first reason why we object to is the humanitarian cause. In Syria, there is an ongoing humanitarian disaster. And as opponents who have had the feeling of enjoying the freedom, the dignity we find in European countries and elsewhere we certainly cannot stand in this historical era, the era of the Internet, to see these abuses, the destruction of the countries of origin of our parents. Many like me, thanks to this regime have never set foot in Syria. We are free men and women and we are opposed to tyranny, whether in Syria or elsewhere.

Thanks to several million Syrians abroad some aid arrives in Syria. Businessman, university professors, employees, workers, entrepreneurs, are giving their blood and all their belongings to not abandon their Syrian brothers.

Protest in Italy “The Syrian People Ask for Protection of the Civilians”

How is the opposition in Italy organised? How was it founded?

The opposition in Italy has been present for years with people who have left Syria 40 years ago, who at the time were students and did not have a way to return as free men in a dictatorial country. During the uprising, the opposition the young and the old met one another on equal terms, they overcame the various divisions which the regime had attempted to render permanent in the Syrian people. Now with different groups and ways all are trying to support the revolution, who at the diplomatic level, some at the humanitarian level, some with the use of information through the internet, some through newspapers, others with blogs, some in their own spheres of study and work , some by means of holding public events, some in street demonstrations and protests. From Lombardy to Sicily there were demonstrations of solidarity and support to the Syrian people. Everyone contributes in their own way to support this revolution.

There are members of the regime who are trying to sneak into the opposition, but the rot will always come out into the open, and they are quickly isolated.

By whom do you feel represented?

The answer to this question is that which was given by the Syrian people in the streets: “The Syrian National Council represents me, the Free Syrian Army represents me, the local committees of the Opposition represent me.”

What can one do in Italy and Europe to support the revolution?

Work is underway to try to have united fronts of opposition, trying to do lobbying towards the political class to support the collection of humanitarian aid, attempts to act diplomatically to support the opposition and the international decisions. Certainly it would be a good omen if Europe was courageous enough to recognise the Syrian National Council, I think it then would also encourage the Arab countries to take this step.

Right now what is most urgently needed is to put an end to this humanitarian catastrophe and constitute a humanitarian corridor, especially for internally displaced Syria and the borders of neighbouring countries.

Europe could still freeze several billion of the Assad family assets and those of his cronies and it could give them to the opposition to supply aid the Syrian people. Many things could be done, but very few things are actually being done.

The establishment of a no-fly zone would mean the death of the regime within a few days.

What conclusions do you have, after a year and a half of revolt?

30,000 dead, 300,000 imprisoned, 70,000 missing. Two and a half million refugees. In Syria, the dead, imprisoned or missing are mathematically dead.

The conclusion is that the regime is simply a loose cannon, constantly humiliated by the Free Syrian Army despite the inferiority of tactical warfare and number, it destroys everything it can destroy. Since we are dealing with a cowardly regime, as are the mercenaries that follow it, they take it out on defenseless civilians, cutting their throats, cutting their bodies to pieces, putting the snipers where there is a crowd to the create the greatest number of deaths, for example where there is the bread line. The regime has now created death squads that spread death all over Syria, posing as the Free Syrian Army. This is because the people have supported and continue to support the Free Syrian Army and, despite the hunger, the lack of water, electricity, gas, medicine, and so forth, the Free Syrian Army has liberated 70% of Syria, The Syrian regime controls the air, using cluster bombs (banned by the Geneva Convention), it rounds up of civilians from house to house, rapes every human being, man, woman, child. It’s a regime that has no equal in crime in history. It castrates boys cuts children to and adults to pieces. They disconnected the incubators in hospitals, killing babies.

They destroy everything, churches, mosques, homes, culture, monuments. The important thing for them is to stay in power. To conclude: the conclusion I draw is dramatic. But the Syrian people have said and repeated: either freedom or death. There is no third way. And the Syrians sing at the funeral of their loved ones the songs of victory.

Assad will perish or escape. And the long-awaited victory will be even sweeter and Syria will be the beacon of freedom of all people in the world, as the Syrians themselves have defeated a regime supported by half the world.

The Syrians are giving everything they hold dear, family, home, friends, belongings. They are giving everything. Not to Syria. But for every free and righteous man. For every man who refuses to bow his head to the tyrant and accept his abuse and violence. This is the conclusion. Syria will be  free, and the revolution continues ..

The majestic independence flags wave

If I had to sum up in only one sentence the most emotional moment of my voyage, it certainly was when they brought us to the border between Turkey and Syria, and I saw, from the Syrian side, two gigantic independence flags waving majestically against the sky. I can’t describe it in words, but reading “Welcome to Free Syria” and recognising the colours of the flag that for more than a year has represented for us, Syrians, hope and the dream of freedom, as well as the end of the regime, was a marvellous feeling. I almost hesitated to set foot in Syrian territory, it seemed too good to be true: a dream that I’ve held in my heart for my entire life was, even if only marginally, becoming reality. Of Syria, the real Syria, I didn’t see anything. No, houses, no cities, no monuments, because I was in a border area, but the sensation of breathing in, finally, the air of my beloved and longed-for land, it was almost a rebirth for me. I bent down, picked up a stone, cradled it in my hand, I kept it with me… a small piece of Syria, a small part of me that has been suffocated by the injustice of the tyrannical regime.

I looked at Syria in the eyes

What struck me so very much during the encounters with our fellow Syrians, was the light in their eyes and faces… Despite the suffering that each one of them carries inside, despite the pain, the precariousness of their situation as refugees, people who had to abandon their homes and their people in order to save themselves from the air strikes, on their faces I saw no signs of hardness, but so much dignity, so much light; in the children and in the adults as well, men and women alike. The children adopted me as an aunt straight away, overcoming any shyness they might have had and they came to me to tell me about their experiences; the horrors of the war have forced them to grow up before their time and their words revolved only around this argument, and this was the case whether they were boys or girls. Even when they played, they repeated the scenes of their escape, the interventions of protection that the youth of the FSA carried out, escorting them until the refugee camp… The last day, before leaving, I tried to get a promise out of them, though knowing that what I was asking of them was impossible: “Try to play other kinds of games, don’t think about war all the time.” They lowered their eyes, they know I am asking too much of them. The war hasn’t physically killed them, but it has stripped them of their childhood, their feelings that they can be carefree, the drive to dream about life. The one, sole dream that they now have is to return home, to their schools, to the gardens where they used to play, to a home where they no longer expect to see the assassins of the regime with their bombs, their armoured tanks.

The immense heart of the women

In the various refugee camps we visited (Kilys, Islahiye, Altinoz, Bohsin, Yayladagi), after the necessary checks at the entrance, we were always presented by those running the camps and then welcomed warmly by everyone, with children taking part with enthusiasm, followed by many young men and women. The welcoming of the women, in particular, was very touching: each one of them wanted us to come visit them in their container or tent; there they tried to do everything possible so as to make me feel at home, then they tried to offer me something, a cup of tea, a sweet from the packets that the Turkish authorities gave them on occasion of the celebration of the end of Ramadan. I watched them move, putting in order those few objects that they had, which now represented their daily lives, with so much care and delicacy that it seemed that they were still the queens of their respective homes. Instead, today all of them are refugees, huddled together in conditions of poverty, with difficult living conditions, but this does not allow them to renounce their dignity, their values, their traditions.

Huda Dachan, Italian-Syrian social worker in the refugee camps in Turkey.

The Jordanian authorities have handed over the activist Omar Aharir into the hands of the Syrian regime, more precisely, back to the secret services, despite the well-known fact that he has been a wanted man for his activities in favour of freedom and that, for this reason, he will be sentenced to death in Syria. Amman will hand over to the regime another 11 activists.

We are spreading this news as widely as possible so that this shameful action by the Jordanian authorities is stopped, aware as they are, of condemning these young people to certain death, people whose only crime has been that they have asked for the end of the dictatorship. The Jordanian authorities have been contacted and begged to not proceed in this act, but they have not listened. It’s not enough to undergo the abuse of the Syrian regime, now other States are chasing down and handing over for execution those who are demanding freedom for their people?

Doctor SAHRAN SHALOUB, a Syrian Druse, born in Qraya, town in the Swaida district of Syria in 1964, graduate of the University of Damascus, in service at the hospital of his native town, where he resides, married and with a 17-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son, was arrested on Sunday, 8 July 2012 in Qraya, (Swaida), taken from his home by men wearing the Syrian Army’s uniform, who did not identify themselves nor did they present any motivation for his arrest.

In the city of Swaida, during the night of Friday 6 July, a car exploded with two of its occupants, one of them, SAFUAN SHEKER, was already being sought out and his father had been arrested 30 days earlier. According to the official version, the two men were preparing a bomb for a terrorist attack, while the citizens of the city are convinced that the car had been struck by a missile or that a bomb had been placed within it and the passengers of the car entered without being aware of the explosives. There were no eyewitnesses at the moment of the explosion.

During the funeral procession, held on Saturday at Qraya, where the two men lived, the participants of the funeral had begun a protest in which hundreds of citizens participated and in which they had chanted slogans against the regime.

Together with Dr. Shaloub, other men arrested were: KARAM SHEKER, YUSSEF AL BALUSS and KAMAL RAED. A fifth man that was being sought out by the authorities in the course of the same operation, BASEL MFAREGE, was not found and is still being sought.

Dr. Shaloub’s father was a member of the Parliament until the year of his death in 1980.

Neither Dr. Shaloub, nor any of the other three men who were arrested have been involved in acts of violence and their arrest is to be attributed to their participation in the peaceful protest march that took place alongside the funerals of Safuan Sheker and his friend.

No information was however given regarding charges against them, nor was the place of their detention given. It is important to mention that Saturday’s protest was the first one held since the start of the revolts in the city of Qraya Swaida, which is an area inhabited principally by Druse.

Il Dr SAHRAN SHALOUB, di etnia drusa, nato a Qraya, località nel distretto di Swaida (Siria) nel 1964, laureato all’Università di Damasco, in servizio presso l’ospedale della sua città natale, dove risiede, sposato, con una figlia di 17 anni e un bambino di 9, è stato arrestato domenica 8 luglio 2012 nella città di Qraya, distretto di Swaida, prelevato  nella sua abitazione da uomini con l’uniforme dell’esercito, che non si sono qualificati, né hanno fornito alcuna motivazione per il suo arresto.

Nella città di  Swaida, nella notte tra venerdì 6 e sabato 7 luglio, un’auto è saltata in aria con i suoi due occupanti, uno dei quali, SAFUAN SHEKER, era già ricercato e suo padre era stato arrestato 30 giorni prima. Secondo la versione ufficiale, i due stavano preparando una bomba per un attentato, mentre i concittadini ritengono che l’auto sua stata colpita da un razzo o era stato posto, al suo interno, un ordigno all’insaputa degli occupanti. Al momento dell’esplosione non c’erano testimoni.

Durante la cerimonia funebre, tenutasi nella giornata di sabato a Qraya, dove i due risiedevano, i partecipanti alle esequie, hanno inscenato una manifestazione a cui hanno partecipato centinaia di cittadini che hanno cantato slogan contro il regime.

Insieme al Dr Shaloub, sono stati arrestati: KARAM SHEKER, YUSSEF AL BALUSS E KAMAL RAED. Un quinto ricercato, nel corso della stessa operazione, BASEL MFAREGE, non è stato trovato ed è ancora ricercato.

Il padre del Dr Shaloub è stato parlamentare fino all’anno della sua morte nel 1980.

Né il Dr Shaloub, né alcuno degli altri tre arrestati si sono resi responsabili di atti di violenza e il loro arresto è da attribuirsi alla partecipazione alla pacifica manifestazione di protesta originatasi in occasione dei funerali di Safuan Sheker e del suo amico.

Non sono state fornite comunque informazioni né sui capi di imputazione di cui sono accusati, né del luogo della detenzione. Si aggiunge che la manifestazione di Sabato è stata la prima tenutesi nella città di Qraya Swaida, in una zona abitata principalmente da drusi, dall’inizio della rivolta.

An idiotic petition is circulating, so far luckily with only 99 signatories. But read it and see how it is a textbook example of muddling issues.

“War is not the answer. Not in Iran. Not in Syria.

Intervention in Syria only makes matters worse. All sides are committing war crimes, and providing arms only results in more killing.

The US and all foreign governments should stay out of Syria and let the Syrian people resolve their own political matters in their own way. Our government must keep its arms, funding and troops out of Syria.”

Mixing issues (such as the “war” against Iran that has been announced as being around the corner for 9 years now, just confounds people and keeps reality hidden. But more sinister are the assumptions made.

1) No one does want war who is a normal person. Apparently, neither did any protesters who took to the streets as is a right of assembly free people hold dear, and the reactionary regime either forced them into death or capitulation. The more death there was, the less the people remained silent and capitulation became impossible. This is how revolutions at times begin, when a resistance occurs in the face of lack of reforms and when oppression is the answer to dissent.

2) Who says it makes matters “worse”. Apparently, someone living in California does not seem to think it is bad enough that civilians are massacred, tortured, arrested, infants are slaughtered, towns are shelled to the ground, unconventional weapons are unleashed, water is poisoned and medicine is withheld from the wounded? Refugees are not fleeing their homes and losing their possessions and loved ones? Does he or she ignore the destruction the regime carries out so that it maintains itself in power?

3) The author puts on equal footing the “war crimes”…. Is this a joke? How can the acts of the deserting soldiers ever be compared to the regular army and the Shabihha? Do they have prisons, tanks, helicopters?

4) The USA isn’t getting involved, never planned on it, unless finger-wagging and tongue-wagging is involvement. On the other hand, Russia, Iran, Lebanon and China provide material and political support including weapons and mercenaries.

5) The ultimate smack in the face against people in Syria (though this petition never claimed it cared about them) is that it believes it is possible and preferable to “let the Syrian people resolve their own political matters in their own way.” The naiveté of a statement of the sort is alarming, as if this is a political dispute that does not involve crimes against humanity and genocide. Yes, “let them” sort it out, while we put our blindfolds on, or sign some idiotic petition because peace is nice, rainbows and flowers are better than guns and severed throats of infants.

They tend to be motivated by feelings more than facts, by what they want to exist rather than what actually does exist. Extremists do a lot of wishful and fearful thinking.

Activists are bound to be involved (both because they wish to be or because they are dragged into it) in what are most commonly known as “flame wars” between persons who claim to be advocates of the same cause. The flame war is generally within the same “movement” and unfortunately, it sucks up huge amounts of energy from the causes itself. Yet, choosing to participate in these flame wars or choosing to characterise them instead as mechanisms of “Extremist Traits” used in militant political or social groups is essential in order to be able to devote the proper time and energy to what matters, the cause. Here is an outstanding summary by Laird Wilcox that describes the Extremist Traits so that they be identified as what they are and that those who seek truth and justice are never diverted from that course by what instead is the enemy of both of those things.

Robert F. Kennedy wrote:

“What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.”

In analyzing the rhetoric and propaganda of several hundred militant “fringe” political and social groups across the political spectrum, I have identified a number of specific traits or behaviors that tend to represent the extremist “style”…


Extremists often attack the character of an opponent rather than deal with the facts or issues raised. They will question motives, qualifications, past associations, alleged values, personality, looks, mental health, and so on as a diversion from the issues under consideration. Some of these matters are not entirely irrelevant , but they should not serve to avoid the real issues.

Extremists object strenuously when this is done to them, of course!


Extremists are quick to resort to epithets (racist, subversive, pervert, hate monger, nut, crackpot, degenerate, un-American, anti-semite, red, commie, nazi, kook, fink, liar, bigot, and so on) to label and condemn opponents in order to divert attention from their arguments and to discourage others from hearing them out. These epithets don’t have to be proved to be effective; the mere fact that they have been said is often enough.


Extremists tend to make sweeping claims or judgments on little or no evidence, and they have a tendency to confuse similarity with sameness. That is, they assume that because two (or more) things, events, or persons are alike in some respects, they must be alike in most respects. The sloppy use of analogy is a treacherous form of logic and has a high potential for false conclusions.


Extremists tend to be very fuzzy about what constitutes proof, and they also tend to get caught up in logical fallacies, such as post hoc ergo propter hoc  (assuming that a prior event explains a subsequent occurrence simply because of their before and after relationship). They tend to project wished-for conclusions and to exaggerate the significance of information that confirms their beliefs while derogating or ignoring information that contradicts them. They tend to be motivated by feelings more than facts, by what they want to exist rather than what actually does exist. Extremists do a lot of wishful and fearful thinking.


Extremists generally tend to judge themselves or their interest group in terms of their intentions, which they tend to view very generously, and others by their acts, which they tend to view very critically. They would like you to accept their assertions on faith, but they demand proof for yours. They tend to engage in special pleading on behalf of themselves or their interests, usually because of some alleged special status, past circumstances, or present disadvantage.


To the extremist, opponents hold opposing positions because they are bad people, immoral, dishonest, unscrupulous, mean-spirited, hateful, cruel, or whatever, not merely because they simply disagree, see the matter differently, have competing interests, or are perhaps even mistaken.


Extremists have a tendency to see the world in terms of absolutes of good and evil, for them or against them, with no middle ground or intermediate positions. All issues are ultimately moral issues of right and wrong, with the “right” position coinciding with their interests. Their slogan is often “those who are not with me are against me.”


This may include a very active campaign to keep opponents from media access and a public hearing, as in the case of blacklisting, banning or “quarantining” dissident spokespersons. They may actually lobby for legislation against speaking, writing, teaching, or instructing “subversive” or forbidden information or opinions. They may even attempt to keep offending books out of stores or off of library shelves, discourage advertising with threats of reprisals, and keep spokespersons for “offensive” views off the airwaves or certain columnists out of newspapers. In each case the goal is some kind of information control. Extremists would prefer that you listen only to them. They feel threatened when someone talks back or challenges their views.


Accordingly, extremists may become emotionally bound to their opponents, who are often competing extremists themselves. Because they tend to view their enemies as evil and powerful, they tend, perhaps subconsciously, to emulate them, adopting the same tactics to a certain degree. For example, anti-Communist and anti-Nazi groups often behave surprisingly like their opponents. Anti-Klan rallies often take on much of the character of the stereotype of Klan rallies themselves, including the orgy of emotion, bullying, screaming epithets, and even acts of violence. To behave the opposite of someone is to actually surrender your will to them, and “opposites” are often more like mirror images that, although they have “left” and “right” reversed, look and behave amazingly alike.


Extremists tend to frame their arguments in such a way as to intimidate others into accepting their premises and conclusions. To disagree with them is to “ally oneself with the devil,” or to give aid and comfort to the enemy. They use a lot of moralizing and pontificating, and tend to be very judgmental. This shrill, harsh rhetorical style allows them to keep their opponents and critics on the defensive, cuts off troublesome lines of argument, and allows them to define the perimeters of debate.


For many extremists shortcuts in thinking and in reasoning matters out seem to be necessary in order to avoid or evade awareness of troublesome facts and compelling counter-arguments. Extremists generally behave in ways that reinforce their prejudices and alter their own consciousness in a manner that bolsters their false confidence and sense of self-righteousness.


Most obvious would be claims of general racial or ethnic superiority–a master race, for example. Less obvious are claims of ennoblement because of alleged victimhood, a special relationship with God, membership in a special “elite” or “class,” and a kind of aloof “highminded” snobbishness that accrues because of the weightiness of their preoccupations, their altruism, and their willingness to sacrifice themselves (and others) to their cause. After all, who can bear to deal with common people when one is trying to save the world! Extremists can show great indignation when one is “insensitive” enough to challenge these claims.


Extremists often predict dire or catastrophic consequences from a situation or from failure to follow a specific course, and they tend to exhibit a kind of “crisis-mindedness.” It can be a Communist takeover, a Nazi revival, nuclear war, earthquakes, floods, or the wrath of God. Whatever it is, it’s just around the corner unless we follow their program and listen to the special insight and wisdom, to which only the truly enlightened have access. For extremists, any setback or defeat is the “beginning of the end!”


Extremists may deliberately lie, distort, misquote, slander, defame, or libel their opponents and/or critics, engage in censorship or repression , or undertake violence in “special cases.” This is done with little or no remorse as long as it’s in the service of defeating the Communists or Fascists or whomever. Defeating an “enemy” becomes an all-encompassing goal to which other values are subordinate. With extremists, the end justifies the means.


Extremists have an unspoken reverence for propaganda, which they may call “education” or “consciousness-raising.” Symbolism plays an exaggerated role in their thinking, and they tend to think imprecisely and metamorphically. Harold D. Lasswell, in his book, *Psychopathology and Politics*, says, “The essential mark of the agitator is the high value he places on the emotional response of the public.” Effective extremists tend to be effective propagandists. Propaganda differs from education in that the former teaches one what to think, and the latter teaches one how to think.


Extremists perceive hostile innuendo in even casual comments; imagine rejection and antagonism concealed in honest disagreement and dissent; see “latent” subversion, anti-semitism, perversion, racism, disloyalty, and so on in innocent gestures and ambiguous behaviors. Although few extremists are clinically paranoid, many of them adopt a paranoid style with its attendant hostility and distrust.


Some extremists, particularly those involved in “cults” or extreme religious movements, such as fundamentalist Christians, militant Zionist extremists, and members of mystical and metaphysical organizations, claim some kind of supernatural rationale for their beliefs and actions, and that their movement or cause is ordained by God. In this case, stark extremism may become reframed in a “religious” context, which can have a legitimizing effect for some people. It’s surprising how many people are reluctant to challenge religiously motivated extremism because it represents “religious belief” or because of the sacred-cow status of some religions in our culture.


Indeed, the ideologies and belief systems to which extremists tend to attach themselves often represent grasping for certainty in an uncertain world, or an attempt to achieve absolute security in an environment that is naturally unpredictable or perhaps populated by people with interests opposed to their own. Extremists exhibit a kind of risk-aversiveness that compels them to engage in controlling and manipulative behavior, both on a personal level and in a political context, to protect themselves from the unforeseen and unknown. The more laws or “rules” there are that regulate the behavior of others–particular their “enemies”–the more secure extremists feel.


Extremists, their organizations , and their subcultures are prone to a kind of inward-looking group cohesiveness that leads to what Irving Janis discussed in his excellent book Victims of Groupthink. “Groupthink” involves a tendency to conform to group norms and to preserve solidarity and concurrence at the expense of distorting members’ observations of facts, conflicting evidence, and disquieting observations that would call into question the shared assumptions and beliefs of the group.

Right-wingers (or left-wingers), for example, talk only with one another, read material that reflects their own views, and can be almost phobic about the “propaganda” of the “other side.” The result is a deterioration of reality-testing, rationality, and moral judgment. With groupthink, shared illusions of righteousness, superior morality, persecution, and so on remain intact, and those who challenge them are viewed with skepticism and hostility.


Extremists often wish for the personal bad fortune of their “enemies,” and celebrate when it occurs. When a critic or an adversary dies or has a serious illness, a bad accident, or personal legal problems, extremists often rejoice and chortle about how they “deserved” it. I recall seeing right-wing extremists celebrate the assassination of Martin Luther King and leftists agonizing because George Wallace survived an assassination attempt. In each instance their hatred was not only directed against ideas, but also against individual human beings.


For example, if they lose an election, then it was “rigged.” If public opinion turns against them, it was because of “brainwashing.” If their followers become disillusioned, it’s because of “sabotage.” The test of the rightness or wrongness of the system is how it impacts upon them…

[The Hoaxer Project Report, pp. 39-41]

Syrian Red Crescent Volunteers, arrested, tortured, killed. And this is only part of the horror of what is going on in Homs under siege

To eliminate doctors and dissident reporters seems to be the prime objective of the Syrian army. There has been no further news on the whereabouts of Jihad Hakmi, volunteer of the Red Crescent in Homs, which since Saturday has been under heavy shelling as well as the helicopters of Damascus resuming their bombing of the city. The activists, in contact with the Italian Syrian community, have asked for the urgent intervention of organisations for human rights and have expressed the fear that the man is being held in conditions of extreme duress and may be subject to torture.

The Syrian Arab Red Crescent, in the meantime, has decided to suspend its activities in various parts of the country, affirming that it has not received protection from the Syrian government which instead is obligated to allow it to carry out all of its interventions in safety. The regime, which considers the organisation “not trustworthy” and “not neutral” has already killed, according to the activists, some of its volunteers, Alhakam Darq Sbaie and Abd-al-Razzaq Jbeiro, Mohammed Khadra, Murad Khoury and Adnan Wahbe, and is holding another volunteer doctor, Mohamad Nour Audi prisoner in an unknown place. The volunteer Ahmed Atfeh, who was imprisoned, has been freed.

The artillery of Bashar Assad continues to kill also in the world of information. The latest victim on the front of citizen journalism, referred by the Syrian community in Italy, is Khaled Ibrahim Albakr, known on the web as “Abu Suleiman”.  Ibrahim Alkbar, who the spokesman for the Homs dissidents Hadi Alabdallah has informed us, was killed yesterday at Al Qusair under the shelling “while he was recording the battle to liberate the place of death, that hated checkpoint from where day and night the snipers shoot at unarmed civilians and the regime troops have been bombing the city.”

Abu Suleiman, as affirmed by sources of the opposition, was one of the founders of the independent information network of Baba Amr, from where Ali Othman, who has been held prisoner for more than three months in the prisons of Bashar Assad, from when he helped the photojournalist Paul Conroy leave a Homs under siege after having watched Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik, other journalists, die before his very eyes. Nothing is known of the whereabouts of Ali Othman, for whom London has asked for his immediate release, since the interview-interrogation that aired in early May.


Helicopters of Syrian aviation forces are bombing the Homs area. A spokesman of the UN Observers in Syria had made known. “We report of violent battles in Rastan and Talbiseh, north of Homs, which see the heavy use of artillery and bombardment from helicopters”, said Sausan Ghosheh. It is the first time that the UN confirms what has already been reported by the Syrian rebels, that is, the use of aviation by the regime’s armed forces.

The director of the BBC’s Middle East Desk, Paul Danahar, who this morning visited the city together with a team of UN Observers, affirmed that the armed forces of the Syrian government are utilising drones to individuate the objectives they will bomb. According to the British network, falling over the city is a bomb each minute. The situation in Homs has been dramatic since Saturday, the dissidents affirm. Yesterday the spokesman Hadi Alabdallah reported, in contact with the Italian Syrian community, that “the bombing of the city is incessant. The inhabitants speak of a continuous shower of missiles and shells that fall over them. There are no shelters, women, children and the elderly are holed up in their own homes, hoping only that the missiles do not strike their houses or at least do not hit the room where there are huddled in. We have witnesses of persons who declare that at least ten missiles have fallen around their house and one entered into the next room, destroying it almost upon impact. It was a miracle that they had been at that moment in the next room. Right now, one only can count on miracles happening.”

Translated from Italian by Mary Rizzo


We Want A Free Syria / Vogliamo la Siria Libera. Syrian Italians, Syrians and Italians together in the struggle for freedom. Italo-siriani, siriani ed italiani insieme nella lotta per la libertà.

A group of Syrian Italians, joined by Syrians and by Italian sympathisers for the cause of a Syria free of the dictatorial and brutal rule of the Assad regime has been communicating (and often organising actions) together in a group that meets under “Vogliamo la Siria Libera” (We Want Syria to be Free) and other internet groups. Mirco Tau asked a simple question to everyone, “Why are you against the regime?” and the answer of some of the members follows (in English and Italian).

Why we are against the regime 

* I am against this regime for the simple fact that after 40 years it has reduced the country to their own family farm where they think they are able to do things any way that suits them, depriving everyone else of their citizenship rights. I am against this regime because it’s been able to take the smiles away from children. -FS

* I am against the regime because any regime that uses violence against dissent is a sick regime. The dimensions and the tenacity of the dissent is the proof that there is no conspiracy directed by foreign agents or secret powers. It is a revolution of the people for their most basic rights. -MR

* I am against the regime for the simple reason that it is killing children, women, young people and elderly people in a systematic way, with no regard at all for human rights, the internal or international public opinion, as it lies until the bitter end, accusing the entire world of making a coalition against it with the lie of a conspiracy… It is a regime that for over 40 years has considered Syria and the Syrians as private property to manage in a personal way, subjugating civil living to the fear and terror of the secret services that control everything in the country, even personal relationships such as marriage! It is a regime that took power with blood and for 40 years has hidden behind false elections where systematically there was a 99.9% victory of false consent. A regime that has managed to weave ambiguous relationships with the rest of the Arab world and beyond… blackmailing its allies as it wishes and managing its dirty business without anyone being able to raise their voice against it… such a Nazi-Fascist regime of the sort should not exist in this day and age!  -MGN

* In addition to the violence, rape, repression, corruption, deaths… I am against the regime because a mother has been deprived of her own son for over 35 years, because he was exiled in Italy without permission to return to his homeland, for the sole reason that it is supposed that he is against the regime, a supposition that has broken up a family, caused litres of tears to run from the eyes of my grandmother and made my father live alone, alone without his parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends from his childhood. Alone with no one to give him comfort or help when he was in need, because only your family truly understands you and helps you in the darkest moments. Now I listen to my father (a severe and upright man) speak on the phone with a broken and trembling voice to his mother of 95, who now no longer hears or recognises anyone, repeating in the sweetest way, “mamma, do you remember me? I am your son. O mamma, forgive me and be proud of me, mamma, don’t cry and you will see that one day we will see one another again.” And she cries saying, “in paradise, my son. We’ll see each other in paradise if God so wills it.” This breaks my heart, to hear those words, but as long as I live, I will fight against this regime. -GZ

ان تطلق النار على مسلح فهذا مبرر. ان تطلق النار على مدني، فهذه جريمة. أما أن تطلق النار على المستشفيات * فهذه نازية وفاشية

Faisal Kassem wrote: I could accept the fact that you shoot at an armed revolutionary, but to shoot at a civilian is a crime and to bomb hospitals is nothing but Nazism and Fascism. -MT

* The Syrian regime has been compared to a mafia regime, but I think it is light years away from that, the mafia avoids killing women and children while the Syrian regime uses such atrocities to bring fear to the men. THERE IS NOTHING MORE DESPICABLE THAN THIS! Not even in the history books have I ever read about a regime that is comparable to the Syrian one. -IS

* I am against the regime because I am tired of hearing promises and speeches by the corrupt authorities, while they are shamelessly talking about fighting corruption. I am against the regime because I don’t want any Syrian citizen to spend his life in prison, to die from torture or to leave prison in a state of madness only because he has expressed his opinion. I am against the regime because I don’t want to see children scrounging through trash dumpsters only to find the remains of our meals, surrounded by the atrocious odour of a country where wealth is robbed every day by those who should be governing. I am against the regime because I don’t want the dream of young Syrians become exile and not travel. How sad it makes me to read in the local papers about their success in the lands of their diaspora, with the indication (of Syrian origins) only because their country gives them no possibility of expressing their talents. I am against the regime because I don’t want the young people of my nation to spend their lives studying and then leaving their degree in a drawer to go in search of a job (labourer, builder, taxi driver), while as time goes by they forget all that they have learned. I am against the regime because I want to see the plates on the scales of justice be in balance, I want to see the sick enter in the hospitals, not in slaughterhouses, because I want to see a profound reform of the system of instruction, police, the military and all the national institutions. I am against the regime because it taught us its slogans since we were children and they remained only slogans. I am against the regime because I don’t know who represents the people; I have recently discovered that one of the men in power is Mansour and I discovered it only because those who accompany him violently attacked a child, ruining his face only for a verbal discussion the child had with is youngest son. I am against the regime because it gets its help from evil persons only to protect its interests. I am against the regime because it invokes democracy, but it sets its militia against every individual who is asking for freedom. I am against the regime because I am tired of recognising the individual errors that have caused thousands of martyrs. I am against the regime because it says it fights against armed gangs and its death squads (Shabbiha) bring arms and use them brazenly against the protesters. I am against the regime because it invokes reforms and at the same time raises the rank of its corrupt affiliates and protects those who are responsible for the massacre of so many innocents. I am against the regime because it talks about conspiracies against it, as if it were doing its duty towards its people. Lastly, I am against the regime, I am against the opposition, I am against every drop of blood that a Syrian citizen shed, whatever his opinion may be. I am with the free Syrian people. -HD

* I am against the regime because its folly is not killing only the Syrian people, but it is trampling over the rights of all of humanity, and it has no pity, no mercy for anyone… There is a document that is essential as an ideal for all people to aspire to from every nation: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In the preamble it is written: “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge… for this reason I believe that the Syrian people are struggling not only for themselves but for the whole of humanity. May Allah grant them victory. – JL

* I am against the regime because I am a TRUE ANTI-FASCIST and this regime is a NAZI regime.- PP

* I am against the regime, but I have used all the words I have to express the rage I feel for the atrocities it is committing, and I am finished with all the words to express the offence regarding a world (other regimes) that in part are looking silently at the massacre, and in part is unrepentant and unpunished while they feed the bloody regime. The words are ending, but there is still Faith, and it is Faith alone that sustains me against this regime outside every “human” logic. InshAllah the change is coming soon. -TI

* I principally am against the violence and it is clear that I also must say that to make the hostilities in Syria end, a No Fly Zone is needed. Don’t call me a warmonger because I still believe that diplomacy has to be used if there are intermediaries who are able to bring that ahead and who can at the same time assure that in the meantime, all violence ceases. -AC

* Before the March 2011 revolution.

I am an Italian journalist and I have always been against the Assad regime. I have always been against the regime because every regime wants to have total control of persons and I am a free woman, I would never renounce my independence and dignity.

I have always been against the regime because it incarnates the opposite of all the values in which I believe.

I have always been against the regime because human life is sacred, and the Assad’s for 40 years, have killed women, children, the young and the old.

I have always been against the regime because the regime whoever brings its armoured tanks into the cities and shells unarmed civilians is nothing but a criminal.

I have always been against the regime because the practice of censorship negates the freedom of the word, of thought, of opinion.

After the Revolt for Dignity

I am against the regime because it is true that I am Italian, but my blood is Syrian.

I am against the regime because I have never seen my land of origin and for thirty years, could not even talk about it.

I am against the regime because I saw the Syrian border from afar, but I could not go near it.

I am against the regime because that day I felt alone in the world, without roots, without a place to call home.

I am against the regime because it robbed me of my identity.

I am against the regime because it impeded me from living a great love story, the love of one’s homeland…

I am against the regime because every time that a new martyr falls a part of me dies.

I am against the regime because for every child that cries or who shakes in fear, my heart breaks.

I am against the regime because I never have forgotten the massacre of Hama and I will never forget the massacres of Homs.

I am against the regime because I am Syrian. I am a free Syrian and I would die to defend my country. -AD

* I am against the regime because I am the son of a dissenter, brother of a martyr, cousin of two martyrs, I am a dissenter until victory. -MT

* I am against the regime because I am against every form of dictatorship, especially if it is a dictatorship tolerated by powers that take advantage of it when they could make it go down in a week. I am against the regime because I believe in the human rights that you can recognise on the streets, not in the conventions and treaties signed during gala dinners and aperitifs by people who give to themselves from these achievements, which are often completely unknown by the true subjects. I am against the regime because one cannot allow that innocents live a life of terror or that they don’t live at all only because fate made them be born in that place. I am against (all) the dictatorial regimes because there are people who continue to negate the evidence with empty rhetoric and propaganda and because there are other superficial and a-critical people who continue, incredibly, to believe them.  -MMB

perché siamo contro il regime

* Sono contro questo regime per il semplice fatto che dopo 40 anni ha ridotto il paese ad una loro fattoria familiare dove credono di potere fare e disfare come vogliono loro privando tutti dei loro diritti di cittadinanza. Sono contro questo regime perchè è riuscito a togliere il sorriso dal volto dei bimbi. -FS

* Sono contro il regime perché qualsiasi regime che utilizza la violenza contro il dissenso è un regime malato. Le dimensioni e la tenacia del dissenso è la prova che non è un complotto da registi stranieri o poteri forti. E’ un rivoluzione del popolo per i loro più basilari diritti -MR

* Sono contro il regime per il semplice motivo che sta uccidendo bambini,donne ,giovani ed anziani in modo sistematico fregandosene dei diritti umani,dell’opinione pubblica interna ed internazionale ,mentendo fino alla fine accusando l’intero mondo di coalizzarsi contro di lui con la menzogna del complotto……un regime che da più di 40 anni considera la Siria e i siriani una sua proprietà da gestire come meglio crede soggiogando la vita civile alla paura e al terrore dei servizi segreti che nel paese controllano tutto anche i rapporti personali come il matrimonio! Un regime che ha preso il potere con il sangue e che per 40 anni si è nascosto dietro a delle false elezioni dove vinceva sistematicamente con il 99.9 % di falsi consensi, un regime che è riuscito a tessere dei rapporti ambigui con il resto del mondo arabo e non …..ricattando i suoi alleati a suo piacimento e gestendo i suoi loschi affari senza che nessuno abbia mai alzato la voce…………un regime del genere nazi-fascista,oggi non deve esistere più! –MGN

* Oltre per le violenze, stupri, repressione,corruzione, morti,… io sono contro il regime perchè una madre è stata privata di suo figlio per oltre 35 anni, pechè esiliato in Italia senza il permesso di tornare nella sua terra natia, per il solo fatto che si suppone che sia contro il regime, una supposizione che ha spezzato una famiglia, fatto versare litri di lacrime a mia nonna e fatto vivere mio padre solo, solo senza genitori, fratelli, parenti e gli amici dell’infanzia, solo senza qualcuno che potesse dargli conforto e aiuto quando ne aveva bisogno, perchè solo la tua famiglia ti capisce veramente e aiuta nei momenti più difficili. Ora sento mio padre (uomo fermo e severo) parlare a telefono con voce spezzata e tremolante con sua madre di 95 anni, che ormai non sente e riconosce più nessuno, che le ripete in modo dolce «mamma mi riconosci? sono tuo figlio, o mamma perdonami e sii orgogliosa di me, mamma non piangere vedrai che ci rivedremo» e lei piangendo gli dice «nel paradiso figliolo, nel paradiso ci rivedermo se Dio vuole» mi si spezza il cuore sentire quelle parole ma io finche vivrò lotterò contro questo regime. -GZ

ان تطلق النار على مسلح فهذا مبرر. ان تطلق النار على مدني، فهذه جريمة. أما أن تطلق النار على المستشفيات * فهذه نازية وفاشية

faisal kassem ha scritto: potrei accettare il fatto che tu spari a un rivoluzionario armato ,ma sparare a un civile e un crimine e bombardare gli ospedali non e altro che nazismo e fascismo -MT

* Si era paragonato il regima siriano ad una regime mafioso,ma invece e’ lontano anni luce ,la mafia evita di uccidere bambini e le donne mentre il regime siriano usa tale atrocita’ per spaventare gli uomini PIU’ INFAMI DI COSI’ NON ESISTE !neanche nei libri di storia non ho mai letto di un regime paragonabile a quello siriano… -IS

* Prima della rivolta

Sono contro il regime perché mi sono stancato di ascoltare promesse e discorsi da parte delle autorità corrotte, mentre parlano spudoratamente di lotta alla corruzione. Sono contro il regime perché non voglio che nessun cittadino siriano passi la vita in prigione, muoia a causa della tortura o esca di prigione ormai senza senno solo perché ha espresso una sua opinione. Sono contro il regime perché non voglio vedere bambini rovistare nei cassonetti e mangiare gli avanzi dei nostri pasti circondati da un odore atroce in un Paese dove la ricchezza viene ogni giorno rubata da chi dovrebbe governare. Sono contro il regime perché non voglio che il sogno dei giovani siriani diventi l’emigrazione e non il viaggio. Così come mi rattrista leggere sui giornali locali dei loro successi nelle terre della diaspora, con l’indicazione (siriano d’origine) solo perché nel loro Paese non trovano possibilità di esprimere le proprie capacità. Sono contro il regime perché non voglio che i giovani della mia Nazione passino la vita a studiare per poi lasciare la laurea in un cassetto e andare in giro a cercare un lavoro (operaio, muratore, tassista), mentre l’avanzare del tempo fa dimenticare loro ciò che hanno imparato. Sono contro il regime perché voglio vedere le braccia della bilancia della giustizia equipararsi, voglio vedere i malati entrare in ospedale, non in macelli, perché voglio vedere una riforma profonda del sistema d’istruzione, di polizia, dell’esercito e di tutte le istituzioni nazionali. Sono contro il regime perché il regime ci ha insegnato i suoi slogan da quando eravamo piccoli e sono rimasti solo slogan. Sono contro il regime perché non so chi rappresenta il popolo; ho scoperto di recente che uno degli uomini al potere è Mansour e l’ho scoperto solo perché i suoi accompagnatori hanno deturpato il viso di un bambino per un diverbio a scuola con il minore dei suoi figli.

Dopo la rivolta

Sono contro il regime perché si fa aiutare da persone infami per tutelare i suoi interessi.

Sono contro il regime perché invoca la democrazia, ma scatena il suo esercito contro ogni individuo che chiede libertà. Sono contro il regime perché mi sono stancato di riconoscere gli errori individuali che hanno causato migliaia di martiri. Sono contro il regime perché dice di lottare contro bande armate e i suoi squadroni della morte (shabbiha) portano e usano spudoratamente le armi contro i manifestanti. Sono contro il regime perché invoca riforme e allo stesso tempo eleva di grado i suoi affiliati corrotti e protegge i responsabili del massacro di tanti innocenti. Sono contro il regime perché parla di complotto ai suoi danni, come se intanto stesse facendo il suo dovere nei confronti del suo popolo.


Sono contro il regime

Sono contro l’opposizione

Sono contro ogni goccia di sangue che versa un cittadino siriano, qualunque sia la sua opinione

Sono con popolo siriano libero. -HD

* Sono contro il regime perchè la sua follia non uccide soltanto il popolo siriano ma calpesta i diritti dell’ intera umanità, e non si pente di nulla, non ha pietà per nessuno…… C’ è un documento che è essenziale come ideale da raggiungere da tutti i popoli e da tutte le Nazioni: La Dichiarazione Universale dei Diritti dell’Uomo. Nel preambolo c’è scritto: ” Considerato che il riconoscimento della dignità inerente a tutti i membri della famiglia umana e dei loro diritti, uguali ed inalienabili, costituisce il fondamento della libertà, della giustizia e della pace nel mondo;

Considerato che il disconoscimento e il disprezzo dei diritti dell’uomo hanno portato ad atti di barbarie che offendono la coscienza dell’umanità, e che l’avvento di un mondo in cui gli esseri umani godono della libertà di parola e di credo e della libertà dal timore e dal bisogno è stato proclamato come la più alta aspirazione dell’uomo;

Considerato che è indispensabile che i diritti dell’uomo siano protetti da norme giuridiche, se si vuole evitare che l’uomo sia costretto a ricorrere, come ultima istanza, alla ribellione contro la tirannia e l’oppressione;

Considerato che è indispensabile promuovere lo sviluppo dei rapporti amichevoli tra le Nazioni;

Considerato che i popoli delle Nazioni Unite hanno riaffermato nello Statuto la loro fede nei diritti fondamentali dell’uomo, nella dignità e nel valore della persona umana, nell’eguaglianza dei diritti dell’uomo e della donna, ed hanno deciso di promuovere il progresso sociale e un migliore tenore di vita in una maggiore libertà;

Considerato che gli Stati membri si sono impegnati a perseguire, in cooperazione con le Nazioni Unite, il rispetto e l’osservanza universale dei diritti dell’uomo e delle libertà fondamentali;

Considerato che una concezione comune di questi diritti e di queste libertà è della massima importanza per la piena realizzazione di questi impegni ……. Per questo credo che il popolo siriano stia lottando non solo per sè stesso ma per l’ intera umanità. Che Allah gli dia la vittoria.  -JL

* Sono contro il regime perchè sono un ANTIFASCISTA VERO e questo regime è NAZISTA.. -PP

* Io sono contro il regime , ma ho esaurito financo le parole per esprimere la rabbia per le atrocità che questi commette , e sto esaurendo pure le parole per esprimere lo sdegno di un mondo (altri regimi) che in parte guarda silente il massacro , e in altra parte impenitente e impunito foraggia il regime sanguinario. Le parole si stanno esaurendo , ma c’è la Fede ; ed è la Fede che mi sostiene contro questo regime fuori da ogni logica “umana”. InshAllah il cambiamento è prossimo. -TI

* Io principalmente sono contro la violenza sia chiaro pero’ devo dire che per far cessare le ostilità in Siria sarebbe necessaria una no fly zone, non datemi del guerrafondaio he pero’ credo che la diplomazia si possa usare se ci sono intermediari che riescano a portarla avanti e che si assicurino che nel frattempo cessioni le violenze. -AC

* Prima della rivolta del marzo 2011

Sono una giornalista italiana e sono contro sempre stata il regime degli Assad.
Sono sempre stata contro il regime perché ogni regime vuole avere il controllo totale delle persone e io sono una donna libera, che mai rinuncerebbe alla sua indipendenza e dignità.
Sono sempre stata contro il regime perché incarna l’opposto di tutti i valori in cui credo.
Sono sempre stata contro il regime perché la vita umana è sacra e gli assad, da 40 anni, uccidono donne, bambini, giovani, anziani.
Sono sempre stata contro il regime perché chi schiera i carro armati nelle città e spara sui civili disarmati non è che un criminale.
Sono sempre stata contro il regime perché pratica la censura e nega la libertà di parola, di espressione, di opinione.

Dopo la Rivolta della dignità

Sono contro il regime perché è vero che sono italiana, ma il mio sangue è siriano.
Sono contro il regime perché non ho mai visto la mia terra d’origine e per trent’anni non ne ho mai potuto parlare.
Sono contro il regime perché un giorno ho visto da lontano il confine siriano ma non mi sono potuta avvinare.
Sono contro il regime perché quel giorno mi sono sentita sola al mondo, senza radici, senza una casa.
Sono contro il regime perché, mi ha privato della mia identità.
Sono contro il regime perché mi ha impedito di vivere un amore grande, l’amor di patria…
Sono contro il regime perché ogni volta che cade un nuovo martire muore una parte di me.
Sono contro il regime perché per ogni bambino che piange o che trema dalla paura mi si stringe il cuore.
Sono contro il regime perché non ho mai dimenticato il massacro di Hama e mai dimenticherò il massacri di Homs.
Sono contro il regime perché sono siriana, sono una siriana libera e morirei per difendere la mia patria -AD

* sono contro il regime perché:sono figlio di un oppositore,fratello,di un martire,cugino di due martiri,sono un oppositore fino alla vittoria -MT

* Sono contro il regime perché sono contro ogni forma di dittatura,peggio se si tratta di dittature tollerate da poteri che le sfruttano quando potrebbero metterci una settimana per rovesciarle. Sono contro il regime perché credo nei diritti umani che vanno riconosciuti per le strade,non nelle convenzioni e nei trattati firmati tra convenevoli e aperitivi da gente che si bea di testi di cui i veri destinatari spesso non saranno mai neanche a conoscenza. Sono contro il regime perché non si può ammettere che innocenti vivano una vita di terrore o addirittura non vivano solo perché la sorte li ha fatti nascere in quel posto. Sono contro (tutti) i regimi dittatoriali perché c’è gente che continua a negare l’evidenza con propagande vuote e retoriche e perché c’è altra gente acritica e superficiale che continua incredibilmente a crederci. -MMB

This coming 15 March the group of human rights activists for Syria will be put on trial. Last 10 February these men assaulted the empty Syrian government’s embassy in the Italian capital. This act, which carries a high symbolic value, was carried out in the name of the right to life of the Syrian population and it has been dedicated to the women, children, youth and the entire Syrian population, who is paying for the choice of freedom and democracy with their lives. The Syrian embassy represents the Syrian government, therefore, those who are subjecting our people to one massacre after another, and as a consequence, does not represent those who believe in the right and sanctity of human life. The independence flag, on the other hand, represents us, it represents me, it represents the future of peace and freedom for Syria. Asmae Dachan

Il prossimo 15 marzo a Roma verrà giudicato il gruppo di attivisti per i diritti umani in Siria che il 10 febbraio scorso ha assalito l’ambasciata di Damasco nella capitale italiana. Il gesto, dall’alto valore simbolico, è stato fatto in nome del diritto alla vita del popolo siriano ed è stato dedicato alle donne, ai bambini, ai giovani, all’intero popolo, che sta pagando con la vita la scelta della libertà e della democrazia. L’ambasciata siriana rappresenta il governo siriano, quindi coloro che stanno massacrando il nostro popolo e, di conseguenza, non rappresenta chi crede nel diritto alla sacralità della vita umana. La bandiera dell’indipendenza, invece, ci rappresenta, mi rappresenta, rappresenta il futuro di pace e libertà della Siria. Asmae Dachan

WRITTEN BY ANGELA ZURZOLO, translated by Mary Rizzo

ROME – Shady Hamadi is a young Italian-Syrian who was among the first to have openly spoken on the repression that the Bashar al-Assad regime is enacting against the Syrian people. Despite the intimidations, he continued to take to the streets in  protests and to address the mass media in order to raise awareness in the general public. Now, he is asking Italians to not cling to indifference and to join in the “Black Ribbon for Syria” campaign, by wearing a symbol of solidarity to the Syrian people each day.

Q: It has been almost a year of repression and death in the country of your origins, when the drama directly affected your loved ones as well. What happens when history bursts into the life of a family? How has the history of your family changed in two   generations, through the Assad governments?

A: My family’s history is interwoven with the fate of an entire people. The drama of the sudden deaths, of arrests and exile has touched my family as it has the families of millions of other persons. When this happens, the drama begins to be part of daily life, so one simply needs to move forward and never go back, avoiding regrets and second thoughts.

Q: Your family members in Syria have been intimidated due to your activism in Italy. You have decided to continue to speak and put yourself in the public eye, defending the cause of the Syrian opposition even in the Italian and European Parliaments.  What resistance and difficulties have you met since then?

A: I didn’t have any real difficulties myself. At times I felt very much alone, abandoned, but during those moments I thought of my family in Syria and about my father’s example  so that I could carry on.

Q: Tell us about your first travels to Syria. What was happening those years in the capital? Did the Damascus Spring leave any traces of cultural life in the country? What are the “Voices of the Spirits” that you would write about today?

A: In 2009, Damascus was a sleepy city, the times of the Damascus Manifesto were by then far away and certainly no one imagined to be able to muster up so much courage. I remember having met many persons who were literally famished for knowledge, they wanted to know what people from other countries thought on any cultural argument or even wanting to know their simple conception of daily reality.  The Syrian people are not stupid, and they never have been. There are so many voices to talk about today, but one comes to mind in particular, a friend who recited poetry in English in the basement of a hotel on Monday evenings, and we would meet to listen to him.

Q: You have started a campaign called “Black Ribbon for Syria” why did you think of this kind of initiative to involve the Italian public?

A: A symbol is able to raise awareness more than a thousand words. Unfortunately the Italian public is not very aware of the Syrian tragedy, since its beginnings. This initiative, present also in other countries where small committees have been formed, seeks to create a common awareness on what is happening in Syria, bringing people into the street and squares. It is not possible that in Syria even children are executed and the world is not outraged.

Q: What are the greatest fears of those Syrians who live in the cities these days? With the shelling of the cities, the Syrian repression seems to have entered into a new and more terrible phase.

A: There are many kinds of fears: that of ending up in prison, that women in one’s family will be raped, and so forth. The situation is terrible, we are not even able to send medicine from Lebanon to Syria because the Lebanese government collaborates closely with the Damascus regime.

Q:The price that journalists have paid with their blood in Syria has been high. What has been the contribution of journalists to the coverage of information? Some say that they had been silent for too long, others challenge the information that comes out of Syria.

A: I think that more could have been done. Today we celebrate, rightly so, the two western journalists killed but together with them was Rami al Sayd and the hundreds of young people who continue to die for the reasons of uploading their videos on Youtube. Western journalism has to give more credit to the Syrian activist journalists who are in Syria and live there. If a journalist is treated like a hero because he entered into Syria for four days wouldn’t it be right to publicly recognise that there are Syrians who have done this work for eleven months, right in Syrian, in such a risky situation and they have died for this?

Q: During the rebellion of the Muslim Brotherhood, between 1976 nd 1982, one of the accusations raised against Assad and his loyalists was that of belonging to a sect of non-believers, and those most harshly struck by the armed actions of those doing the revolt were not only the government representatives and the Alawite officials of the military, but also ordinary citizens whose only fault was belonging to the same religious group as that of those in the regime. How do you interpret the relationship between Alawits and Sunnis in recent years?

A: There is the false believe that all the Alawites are with the regime and that all of them gain from it. This is untrue. In Syria, coexistence between religions is rooted in the society and has been for millenia, not only since 1963, as the government tries to suggest. Killing persons only because they are Alawites, has had happened in 1982 is wrong, just as it is wrong to kill anyone, if it it might sound merely rhetorical. The Syria of tomorrow will also have Alawites and for this reason work must be done to destroy the culture of the vendetta.

Q: Do you think that the new Constitution could open a margin for reaction to the opposition or do you think that it has definitively handed the keys of the nation over to Bashar?

A: I think that it is a farce. Assad has never recognised that an opposition exists, he has always said they are only a band of salafist terrorists who want to kill the minorities. When he recognises that there is dissent, then maybe one can start thinking about it.


A Syrian protester

WRITTEN BY ENRICO DE ANGELIS – translated by Mary Rizzo

The Syrian revolution is a conspiracy devised by the United States: thus goes the discourse of many leftists activists and their newspapers. But behind this vision is a distorted reading of reality and an increasing difficulty in interpreting the complexity of the contemporary world. Which risks making them lose credibility even in the future struggles. 

Since the revolt in Syria started, many have been convinced that it has been an American-Zionist conspiracy that has been behind the scenes, directing the uprising. They say that the majority of Syrians still support Bashar al-Assad.  They say that the living is still good in Syria and that the life conditions were better than in the other Arab states where the revolts broke out. They say that the activists of the opposition and the mainstream media that support them exaggerate the number of victims. They say that right from the start it was an insurrection armed by the United States and Gulf countries. They say that Syria is the last secular State and especially that it is the last bastion, together with Iran, against the policies of the United States and their allies in the region. Expressing this vision of what is happening in Syria since last March are persons who see themselves as belonging to the so-called Anti-imperialist camp. It is difficult to identify with precision those who belong to it: more than anything else, it is with a way of thinking, which emerges when one finds himself in discussion with human rights activists, those who sympathise with the Palestinian cause, anarchists, exponents of social centres (translator’s note, leftist student groups) and many others. In general, those who are against the world order that has the stamp of the United States. But it is a reading that at times also finds its expression in more official ways. In Italy, an example is il manifesto, which since the start had an attitude regarding Syria that can be called ambiguous at best. Any argument seems valid as long as it deviates the attention from the repression of the regime regarding the protests: the geo-political interests at play, the lack of precision in the count of the victims, the armed character of the revolt, the infiltration by al Qaeda and Iraqi Jihadists.

And, on the other hand, il manifesto is in good company – in a recent article entitles “The United States should stay out of Syria”, the American magazine The Nation  begins immediately with a geo-political analysis of the question, stressing who is against whom in the international panorama. Then it follows saying that “the Syrian opposition is, at least in its most external form, obscure” and concludes that the revolt could end in a massacre of the Alawites. Joseph Massad, the champion of the conspiracy theory writes in al-Jazeera English that the Syrian revolt has been “taken hostage” by the imperialist forces within (???) and outside Syria, and that certainly the outcome cannot be a true democracy. And in that vein still others. In these months I often found myself encountering persons who have these opinions. An example is an Italian activist I met in Tahrir Square in Cairo, on the occasion of 25 January, anniversay of the Egyptian revolt. He also came to celebrate with the victory against the Mubarak regime with the Egyptians. But when it comes to Syria, the position is striking, “the situation is completely different. The Egyptian regime was supported by the United States, the Syrian one is on the other hand against them.”

When Che Guevara talks like Kissinger – This is the first point that I’d like to discuss: the cold realpolitik that comprises this way of thinking. Suddenly the discourse of human rights, the defence of freedom at all costs, the opposition to State violence against citizens slip into the background. What counts now are only geo-political types of concerns. Though hidden behind other arguments, the discourse is essentially: the enemy of my enemy is my friend, no matter what he does. Syria and its regime is the enemy of the United States, thus it has to be protected. The Syrian people can be sacrificed on the altar of the global struggle of anti-imperialism, because, too bad for them, they happen to be fighting from the wrong side. What is important is to be against the United States, and anything that goes against the, is fine with me. This passage from a discourse based on ethics to a discourse based exclusively on political concerns seems to be experienced by those who use it without contradictions. Che Guevara all of a sudden starts to talk like Kissinger or Metternich, yet, everything seems normal. What happens on a local level counts for nothing, the struggle of a people for their freedom: the only thing that counts is geo-political equilibrium.

Protesters waving the revolutionary flag (pre-Assad era flag)

An erroneous reconstruction of reality – The second consideration goes under the name of ignorance. Because the contradiction referred to above is often overcome by claiming that it’s not truly a spontaneous revolt, but it is an armed insurrection orchestrated by the United States with the intention to intervene militarily. This is the same script that is used regarding the Iraq war of 2003 or, more recently, that in Libya. If the revolt is authentic, then the humanitarian case does not exist. There is no place here for challenging in detail all the pieces that make up this invented mosaic. And I don’t want to deny that there are foreign interests at play: there always are some. In fact, the longer the revolt lasts and the more that the clampdown of it is bloody, the more that an external intervention becomes pressing and influential, conditioning the future of the country. As a Syrian activist has said: when you don’t know who to turn to, you would even deal with the Devil.

But to think that the insurrection in Syria is fruit of a pre-ordained plan from outside is simply false. And for those who know the situation well, for those who have followed every single development since the beginning, there is no shadow of a doubt. No regional or international power wanted a revolt in Syria. It is sufficient to analyse the declarations of the American administration since last March. After less than a month Hillary Clinto declares that “Assad is a reformer”, dismissing the repression as “disproportionate use of force” and reassures Assad, excluding armed intervention in Syria. On 20 May Obama states that “Assad should lead the transition towards democracy”. On 20 May, Obama repeats that “Assad has to step down in the interest of the Syrian people”. And lastly, 6 February he excludes once more any military intervention. Clearly, it is not what one can call a defamation campaign as the one against Saddam Hussein prior to the invasion of 2003. On the contrary, the doors have always remained open for Bashar al-Assad, even when the brutality of the repression had become clear to all. The Syrian National Council, the main opposition organ abroad, has been recognised only one month ago and by very few countries. And the Free Syria Army, despite all the widespread rumours this year, judging by the rudimentary arms it possesses, has not yet received any help from foreign countries.

A revolution against the entire world – The Syrian revolution, as some activists have written, seems to be a revolution against the entire world. Not in the sense that there is any kind of conspiracy against it, but in the sense that the struggle for independence is evidently a solitary struggle. No external actor has the force to intervene, or the intention to place their bets on this revolution. Yet everyone follows it closely, anxious to understand how it will end and to know which horse to bet on so that they can cash in when all is over and done. There are many interests that must be safeguarded, except for the Syrian ones. The truth is that the Bashar al-Assad regime is convenient for everyone, the West and Israel included. Syria and the Assads have always barked tremendously and bitten very little, and they offered stability to the entire area. Fundamentally, Israel needs to have a threat to exhibit in order to continue reciting the role of victim under siege. And the Assad regime constitutes a threat only on paper. On the contrary, a truly independent Syria is a certain loss for someone and the terrible unknown for the others. It is precisely for this reason that the lack of solidarity in those movements and those persons who instead are always ready to participate in protests for Palestine or against the wars of NATO stands out even more as incomprehensible behaviour.

It is a world, that of the “anti-imperialists”, which shows that it not only has remained behind in its own incapacity to understand contemporary reality and its transformations, but also to be imprisoned within ideological prisons that impede them from reading the nature of local phenomena in their specificity. They say: one always must read events in a global key. But even if that were true, one first of all needs to read them well, and second, they need to do so without forgetting the persons who live in places where the events take place and who are undergoing more often than not local forces. As the Syrians know well, at times local powers can be more violent and ferocious than global ones. What does it matter to a Syrian if in the end the United States should make gains in geopolitical interests, if this of course is true, if the day before a follower of Assad has killed his brother? The Syrian regime perhaps is not a friend of the West, but it is an oppressive regime that has in recent years started a process of free market policies and policies of centralisation of economic power that resemble unrestrained capitalism, limited only to the need to ensure that the distribution of wealth is compatible with the interests of the authorities.

The loss of credibility of international solidarity movements – It is a paradox and disquieting that the insurrection brought forward in the first place in the name of freedom, democracy and social justice, and which is brought ahead by the less advantaged social classes of the country, is perceived as a revolt in favour of global imperialism. Why can’t one simply be on the side of the people and against the forces that limit their freedoms, wherever they may be? But this would already be an operation that is far too complex within the rigid framework of imperialism vs the free world. One is either against Iran or against the United States. These persons in general exhibit a presumptuous scepticism that often translates into a hasty conclusion: the mainstream media lies, therefore, reality is the opposite of what they affirm. In other words, if CNN affirms that there is a massacre in Syria, it means that the revolt has been organised by the Americans. They know how the world works, the others are poor lobotomised idiots who drink down anything that the mass media decides to force their way.

But unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, the world (and also that of the media) is much more complex than that. If it is true that the mainstream media are often subordinated by the agendas of governments, it is also true that one cannot so easily dismiss them and thing that there is a permanent international conspiracy woven by the United States. But all of this, for those pseudo-intellectuals who are sitting comfortably in their own armchairs while people die, is if no importance at all. They should however remember one thing, and that is when they take to the streets again to march for a just cause, against the occupation of Palestine or against another NATO intervention, they will have very much less credibility from now on.

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100 civili siriani, vittime di 2 soli giorni di attachi


“Sarebbe stato meglio nascere animali piuttosto che siriani. Avresti ricevuto maggiore protezione.”

Stavo riflettendo tra me e me, ed a volte a voce alta, “Che cavolo è successo all’empatia e all’umanità del movimento degli attivisti? Quando hanno deciso quale sangue non valeva molto? Dove sono andate la loro compassione, empatia e senso della giustizia?”

Ci sono alcune qualità che un’attivista dovrebbe possedere come parte obligatoria del proprio bagaglio. Non tutti devono avere una soluzione ai problemi che affligono le vittime o i deboli nelle cause che sostengono. Nemmeno devono dedicare molto tempo o soldi alla causa. Si potrebbe fare l’attivista oggigiorno localmente o anche se si è disabili o si  hanno difficoltà a lasciare le proprie case. Ci si può esprimere, condividere informazioni, e fare azioni di solidarietà attraverso internet. Le qualità, però, che dovrebbero essere a disposizione di ogni attivista includono l’empatia, un po’ di coraggio ed un forte desiderio che “il bene” abbia il sopravento e sconfigga “il male”. Che questo bagaglio così cruciale e obligatorio sia diventato così selettivo deve essere il colpo più fatale all’universo dell’attivisimo. Lo fa puzzare di ipocrisia e serve principalmente la causa degli oppressori.

L’empatia è una risposta sociale ed emotiva alle condizioni in cui vivono altri essere senzienti. Siccome tutti noi possiamo concordare che dolore e sofferenza (compresso quello d’essere vittima di abusi, fame e privazioni) sono cose negative, non dovrebbe essere difficile sentirsi male, “come se” quello che succede potesse succedere a noi o alle persone che amiamo. Se siamo capaci di sconnettere l’empatia perché abbiamo un’ideologia cui fare fede, accompagnata da una sorta di strana pressione sociale, qualcosa è andato storto. Se siamo selettivi per un concetto quale il dolore umano e la per nostra capacità di accettarlo (per gli altri), abbiamo bisogno di una lunga pausa di riflessione per pensare ex novo che cosa stiamo facendo nel mondo dell’attivismo. Dobbiamo ricordare che l’empatia potrebbe essere uno strumento per il cambiamento, dobbiamo metterlo al nostro servizio e capire che la gente che soffre (e in alcuni casi gli animali) percepisce il nostro coinvolgimento oppure la nostra indifferenza, e possono servire delle capacità tipiche degli (soprattutto) attivisti per far sì che i sentimenti di empatia si manifestino e vadano verso la fine della sofferenza, che rimane l’oggetto primario ed immediato.

Per poter capire, testimoniare ed identificarsi con la sofferenza estrema che è la realtà di alcuni, un attivista deve possedere la capacità di aiutare in una maniera concreta il cambiamento della condizione di dolore e di sofferenza attraverso il riconoscimento della condizione, seguito da azioni atte a    intervenire a favore delle vittime. Dall’altra parte, la loro indifferenza potrebbe dare sostegno al violento, all’ oppressore, che crede che la sua violenza sia giustificata.

Non c’è stata mancanza di prove per moltissimi mesi che in Siria la situazione attuale è una crisi umanitaria di gravità estrema. A citare alcune statistiche, molte delle quali provenienti dagli organi internazionali considerati come altamente autorevoli come l’ONU, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International e altri ancora, in undici mesi dalle prime manifestazioni contro il regime, ci sono stati 6.000 civili uccisi, da cecchini, da  bombardamenti con mortai, bombe e pestaggi, anche se altre fonti dichiarano che il numero vero è molto più alto, visto che la scoperta di fosse comuni e la “sparizione” di manifestanti è un evento frequente. 70.000 persone sono state arrestate, la stragrande maggioranza senza accuse specifiche oppure accusate di crimini che nessun tribunale normale potrebbe sostenere, compresi crimini di pensiero e di intento. Ci sono stati casi documentati in modo costante di abusi e tortura, con i corpi segnati dalla brutalità che è difficile immaginare. Le scene sono così orribili e devastanti, che in anni ed anni di attivismo per i diritti umani e soprattutto per quelli palestinesi, non ho mai visto questo livello di depravazione, questo livello di crudezza.

La settimana scorsca, la città di Idleb ha subito un attacco molto sanguinoso: un gruppo di persone sono state vittime dello scoppio di una bomba di chiodi, che ha conficcato piccolissimi pezzi di metallo nella loro carne, daneggiando gli organi interni e causando emorragia interna fino ad arrivare ad una morte dolorosa. Sono stati trasportati all’ospedale civile per il loro funerale, ma lì, altri 60 corpi erano scoperti nelle celle frigorifere, tutti con segni di tortura estrema. L’ospedale è occupato dalla militia del regime che ha sparato alla gente e proibito a qualsiasi ferito le cure. Gli ospedali ora servono soltanto al regime per rimanere al potere a tutti i costi. L’immagine che è venuta alla mente di un’amica attivista che ha visto le foto erano le immagini  di persone faccia in giù nel proprio sangue a Sabra e Shatilla. Ma, questi sono siriani, e per un motivo che non riesco a capire, la maggioranza degli attivisti per la Palestina preferiscono ignorare il tutto. Stano portando gli paraocchi oppure sono incapaci di provare empatia con i siriani?

Che ci sono più di 20.000 rifugiati che hanno cercato la salvezza in Turchia nelle tende è un altro numero che dovrebbe essere un dato insopportabile per un attivista. Sappiamo bene quello che è il destino dei rifugiati, il fatto che spesso non possono mai tornare e soprattutto, le condizioni atroci in cui sono costretti a vivere. Un attivista dovrebbe essere preoccupato per tutto questo. Quanti siriani sono fuggiti in Libano o anche più lontano? Nessuno conosce i numeri perché spesso questa gente continua ad essere minacciata e ricercata anche in esilio.

Come mai gli attivisti non riescono a capire la severità della situazione? Perché denunciano i manifestanti negli stessi termini che sono usati dal regime, nonostante montagne di prove che dimonstrano che non è un governo umano? Come mai hanno fatto uso di Twitter, Facebook ed i blog per settimane contro lo spray al pepperoncino negli occhi dei manifestanti americani, ma gli assalti mortali contro civili (compreso più di 300 bambini che sono morti per mano del regime, molti di loro soggetti alla detenzione e alla morte per torture) sono ignorati? Sono i Siriani figli di un dio minore?  Sono meno degni di protezione e di interesse? E’ mai possibile che studenti universitari americani che dopo la manifestazione possono tornare nei loro dormitori e sanno che le loro vite non sono in pericolo ottengono più comprensione e empatia dagli attivisti che bambini arabi innocenti che hanno perso le loro vite sotto la crudeltà di una milizia repressiva?

Alcuni diranno, “Perché dici che è peggio se qualcuno uccide la propria gente?” come una scusa per poi parlare di un altro luogo geografico, un’altra situazione. Altri diranno che il regime di Assad è l’ultimo baluardo contro l’imperialismo, che è l’unico argomento che riescono a trovare. Sono sicuri che dietro tutte le proteste c’è un complotto imperialista, qualcosa che non dicevano  per le stesse proteste in Tunisia, Egitto ed a volte, verso l’Intifada palestinese. Molte di queste persone che dichariano che non può  essere una rivolta sincera e popolare oppure una rivoluzione vivono in società ricche in Europa e Nord America, dove hanno il diritto di dire qualsiasi cosa vogliono senza avere paura di essere arrestati. Però, non hanno mai fatto parte di una rivoluzione o di una rivolta contro il governo al  potere. Altri dicono che non ci deve essere l’intervento esterno, ma fanno il tifo per la Russia, il Libano e l’Iran perchè continuino ad armare il regime perché lo sostengano per il più lungo tempo possibile. Altri diranno che l’Esercito della Siria Libera è una milizia imperialista (???!!!) e che sta fomentando la guerra, non essendo una vera milizia di resistenza. Ancora altri dicono che entrambi i lati hanno la colpa, mettendoli sullo stesso piano, una cosa che non si azzardarebbero a fare se fosse la Palestina. Come è possible mettere a pari merito civili con un potere armato che controlla il governo, l’economia, che potrebbe togliere l’acqua, la corrente e il gas per proprio sfizio, arrestare persone in modo arbitrario a migliaia, chiudere ospedali, invadere città con carri armati, bombardare le persone mentre stanno nelle loro case e mettere cecchini sui tetti,  dovesse mai qualcuno provare a scappare?

Un mio amico siriano mi ha detto qualche mese fa, “Se solo fossimo degli animali, credo che ci sarebbero più persone a provare la compassione per noi.” Dopo alcune settimane, ha preso atto anche dell’abbandono totale degli Attivisti per la Palestina, che ripetono le posizioni retoriche di Assad senza nemmeno un motivo pratico per farlo se non la loro mancanza di umanità oppure la loro mancanza di occhi per vedere. Mi ha detto, “Dovremmo dire a tutti semplicemente che siamo palestinesi, forse solo allora si sentiranno male per come stiamo morendo.” Io lo porterei ancora avanti il pensiero: alcuni anni fa Vittorio Arrigoni ha scritto un pezzo molto toccante. Io chiedo agli attivisti per la Palestina in modo particolare di leggerlo e rifletterci sopra.

“Prendi dei gattini, dei teneri micetti e mettili dentro una scatola” mi dice Jamal, chirurgo dell’ospedale Al Shifa, il principale di Gaza, mentre un infermiere pone per terra dinnanzi a noi proprio un paio di scatoloni di cartone, coperti di chiazze di sangue. “Sigilla la scatola, quindi con tutto il tuo peso e la tua forza saltaci sopra sino a quando senti scricchiolare gli ossicini, e l’ultimo miagolio soffocato.” Fisso gli scatoloni attonito, il dottore continua “Cerca ora di immaginare cosa accadrebbe subito dopo la diffusione di una scena del genere, la reazione giustamente sdegnata dell’opinione pubblica mondiale, le denunce delle organizzazioni animaliste…” il dottore continua il suo racconto e io non riesco a spostare un attimo gli occhi da quelle scatole poggiate dinnanzi ai miei piedi. “Israele ha rinchiuso centinaia di civili in una scuola come in una scatola, decine di bambini, e poi la schiacciata con tutto il peso delle sue bombe. E quale sono state le reazioni nel mondo? Quasi nulla. Tanto valeva nascere animali, piuttosto che palestinesi, saremmo stati più tutelati.”A questo punto il dottore si china verso una scatola, e me la scoperchia dinnanzi. Dentro ci sono contenuti gli arti mutilati, braccia e gambe, dal ginocchio in giù o interi femori, amputati ai feriti provenienti dalla scuola delle Nazioni Unite Al Fakhura di Jabalia, più di cinquanta finora le vittime. Fingo una telefonata urgente, mi congedo da Jamal, in realtà mi dirigo verso i servizi igienici, mi piego in due e vomito.”

In questo momento, queste vittime sono siriani. In questo momento, la media di 40 vittime al giorno (ma cresce negli ultimi giorni), a volte 100 vittime ogni giorno, è ciò che accade in Siria.

(grazie a Eugenio Dacrema per l’aiuto)

the amount of marches and number of participants has grown exponentially

WRITTEN BY ENRICO DE ANGELIS, translated by Mary Rizzo

After almost a year, let’s take a look at the fundamental moments of the revolt in Syrian, running the gamut of repression, the regime’s propaganda and “hope”. From the first protests in Damascus up to the bloody episodes of recent days.

A Syrian dissident once told me that ever since the revolts in Syria started, time passes faster than in the rest of the world. If outside, a day goes by, within the borders, it is as if a week has passed. It is hard to think that only a year ago, Syria had one of the most stable regimes in the Middle East. Its president Bashar al-Assad seemed to enjoy a consensus that the other Middle Eastern dictators, starting from Hosni Mubarak, did not have. The economic difficulties hadn’t yet reached the breaking point of tolerance as they had in Egypt. And lastly, the geopolitical position of Syria put several obstacles in front of a possible revolt. For years the Syrian regime had been the only certainty in an area that is dense with ambiguity and problems: the chaos of Iraq following the American occupation, the fragility of Lebanon with its intermittent civil wars, Israel and the occupation of Palestine. No one wanted, and in many ways no one still wants, the sudden and violent fall of the Syrian regime, not even the Western powers, starting from the United States. It is impossible to think of a “calculated” regime change, it is impossible to predict what will happen if the Assad regime, which has lasted 40 years, should fall.

All of these certainties collapsed one after the other. No one expected that the Syrian revolution could have reached such proportions and developed in this way. From a year since the start of the revolts, which began in March 2011, Syria today appears to be on the brink of a civil war. The regime’s repression of the uprising in the most recent days has reached its apex. The prolonged shelling of the city of Homs, one of the strongholds of the “rebels”, is bringing about the death of hundreds. A few days earlier, there was the failure and the withdrawal of the Arab League’s observers, after having admitted their own incapacity to put a halt to the violence. Then, the lack of reaching an agreement on the UN resolution from the Arab League initiative that asked for Bashar to step down and to start the transition process towards democracy. A resolution that, though excluding a military intervention, was blocked in no uncertain terms by the double veto of Russia and China.

Never before as today are all eyes set on the armed aspect of the revolt, that Free Syrian Army (FSA) constituted prevalently of deserters of the armed forces that since July 2011 has militarily opposed the repression. The United States, though excluding a direct armed intervention, seems to think of supporting the FSA with arms and money, with the help of Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. On the other side, Russia and Iran continue to support the regime and supply Bashar al-Assad’s militia. In essence, there are all the elements for a sort of “proxy war” with dynamics that resemble those of Vietnam in the 1960s or, to stay in the region, similar to the style of the Lebanese civil wars.

The armed revolt and the regime’s propaganda – What is unfolding before our eyes can be defined as a sort of “self-fulfilling prophecy”. The regime has insisted since the beginning that the revolt was an armed on, directed by foreign elements, fruit of an international conspiracy and underscored by ethnic reasons: Sunnis against Alawites. Even when that was evidently not the case at all. In the regime’s version, the repression of the protesters has always been presented as a fight against invisible “terrorists” and against armed gangs that were not identified in any clear way. It had been Bashar al-Assad himself, in a speech held at the People’s Council at the end of last March, to set this narrative of events, deluding a good number of Syrians who hoped at least in a partial recognition of the growing dissent in the country and in the opening towards a pacific exit strategy that at the same time seemed still to be realistic. Today, some of the elements that constitute the regime’s propaganda have become reality: it is true that the armed revolt has assumed a certain importance. It is true that foreign intervention is ever more pressing, first under the form of economic and diplomatic pressure, and perhaps from now on even under the form of military aid. It is true that even the ethnic aspects of the clashes have become more evident. The Alawites, a minority group to which the al-Assad family belongs, are almost all on the side of the regime, as well as how the able propaganda of the regime has always tried to paint the revolt as directed towards the creation of an Islamic state in which the exponents of other religious groups would find themselves emarginated or worse, persecuted. Some of the lies of the regime have transformed themselves, at least in part, into truth.

The wind of the Arab Spring – But it has not always been that way. The Syrian revolt started spontaneously and it is still prevalently an authentic revolt, brought forward by the Syrian citizens without the help of anyone. The requests of the protesters are for the most part extraneous to a religious discourse: they are asking for freedom, democracy, social justice. And, despite everything, the peaceful protesters continue to build the true motor of the revolt. Everything had its start in Tunisia and Egypt. The Syrian revolt would probably never have taken place without the precedent Arab Springs. The domino effect in this case is striking. When the so-called Arab Spring began in North Africa, something in Syria had shaken. Small events, but taken all together make up a definite change in the environment. When I was in Damascus, in the winter of 2010, the transformation was evident. It was enough to look at the debates that were flooding the information sites in that period: there were discussions on the news of the uprisings against Mubarak and Ben Ali, and it is simple to pass from these arguments to the situation in Syria. One almost does not even notice it happening. In substance, the problems are and remain the same in all the Arab countries: corruption, growing gap between the rich and the poor, daily humiliation, lack of freedom, an economy that is on the decline in a way that is seemingly unstoppable. One talks of Egypt and Tunisia, and in reality, one is talking of Syria.

The phenomenon doesn’t concern only Internet. Even outside of the web, the atmosphere is visibly changing. The traditional remissive and apolitical nature that has always characterised the population seems to be crumbling. Acts of bullying and arrogance that were once tolerated by perseverance are now met with a growing impatience. In February the first marches were organised, in front of the Egyptian and Libyan embassies, to express solidarity with the Arab Spring. Then something that until only a few months before had been unthinkable: dozens of persons took to the streets of Damascus to protest against the violence of a policeman against the child of a shopkeeper. The protesters shouted, “the Syrian people will not be humiliated,” which successively became one of the most widespread slogans in the protests to follow. Damascus was thus the first city to move, something that today might seem incredible.

On 15 March, a group of youth gathered together at the suq (market) of Hamidiya: it was the first time that films that had been made using mobile phones had been put onto Internet. Al Jazeera, the pan-Arab network of Qatar, one of the Arab world’s most widespread channels, immediately began to transmit them, also allowing those who did not have an Internet connection to know what was going on. On 16 March, the relatives of some political prisoners gathered in front of the Ministry of the Interior. The security forces intervened with violence, beating the protesters and arresting dozens of them.  Small groups of protesters continued to take to the streets, but this was still a limited phenomenon. Until that moment, the only ones to make a move had been the “civil society” of Damascus: a middle-to-upper class of intellectuals and youth who were working in the cultural field, in journalism, civil organisations and human rights groups.

participation spans all ages

The dynamics of the protests had changed in those very days. In the small city of Dera’a, in southern Syria, a group of children with spray paint wrote some slogans against the regime on a wall. The emulation of the Egyptian revolt was quite clear: the writing was imitating the anti-Mubarak slogans used by the young Egyptians of the 25 January movement. The children copied them directly from the reports on Al Jazeera. The reaction of the regime was immediate: the children were arrested. The next day their parents and the families of the children took to the streets to protest, encouraged by that same atmosphere that had materialised a few days earlier in Damascus. The security forces intervened, shooting: there were the first deaths. The funerals became the occasion for even larger protests, and the repression was growing more and more ferocious. The nearby villages ran in support of Dera’a. The protesters numbered in the thousands. The Syrian revolt had begun.

The evolution of the revolt – From Damascus, the uprising moved to the provinces, and from the elite, it was substituted by the lower-middle class. This takes into consideration very often those same sectors of the population which initially constituted the pillars of the support to the regime: farmers, labourers, office workers and shopkeepers who in the last fifteen years had been abandoned and penalised by the liberalisation reforms. They were the ones who most strongly felt the effects of growing corruption in the circles of power that gravitated around the regime and of the progressive cuts in state aid. Other cities and regions progressively joined the protests: Banyas, Nawa, Homs, Latakia, Idlib, Qamishli, Hama and many others. At the start, the protests were born from various, localised needs: each region has its own requests and its own complaints regarding the regime. Especially, at the start, it was not asked for Bashar al-Assad to step down: the slogans demanded the end of corruption, reforms, more freedom.

It’s been the ferocious repression of the regime to give unity to this fragmented chain of uprisings. And, it is the repression of the regime to radicalise the requests of the protesters. As they gradually saw their death toll rise in the dozens, and then in the hundreds of protesters, the legitimacy of the president had progressively crumbled, and the marches became an open revolt against Bashar al-Assad and his regime. It has been a peaceful uprising: no one at the start thought of using arms against the army and the security forces. The control of the military by the regime is total, almost all of the officers are Alawites and their loyalty is absolute.

But even this story started to change: someone started to take weapons as a vendetta, then the first individual desertions took place as well as the formation of armed anti-regime groups. The prophecy of the regime became reality as civil war seems to get nearer, even if it is still avoidable. But looking at the current situation, one should not forget how the revolt began, and who is responsible for its degeneration.
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Siria: ricostruire le origini della rivolta quasi un anno dopo

A quasi un anno di distanza, ripercorriamo le tappe fondamentali della rivolta in Siria, tra repressione, propaganda di regime e “speranza”. Dalle prime manifestazioni a Damasco fino ai cruenti episodi degli ultimi giorni.

Un dissidente siriano una volta mi ha detto che da quando le rivolte sono cominciate in Siria il tempo passa più velocemente che nel resto del mondo. Se al di fuori è passato un giorno, all’interno dei confini è come se fosse passata una settimana. È difficile pensare che un anno fa quello siriano fosse uno dei regimi più stabili del Medio Oriente. Il presidente Bashar al-Assad sembrava godere di un consenso che altri dittatori mediorientali, a cominciare da Hosni Mubarak, non avevano. Il disagio economico non aveva ancora raggiunto il limite massimo di sopportazione come in Egitto. E infine, la posizione geopolitica della Siria poneva più di un ostacolo a una possibile rivolta. Per anni il regime siriano aveva costituito la sola certezza in un’area percorsa di incognite e problemi: il caos dell’Iraq dopo l’occupazione americana, la fragilità del Libano con le sue intermittenti guerre civili, Israele e l’occupazione della Palestina. Nessuno voleva, e per molti versi nessuno ancora vuole, una caduta improvvisa e violenta del regime siriano, neanche tra le potenze occidentali, a cominciare dagli Stati Uniti. Impossibile pensare a un passaggio di regime “calcolato”, impossibile prevedere cosa succederebbe se il regime quarantennale regime degli Assad dovesse crollare.

Queste certezze sono crollate una a una. Nessuno si aspettava che la rivoluzione siriana potesse raggiungere simili proporzioni e svilupparsi in questo modo. A un anno dallo scoppio delle rivolte, cominciate nel Marzo del 2011, la Siria appare oggi sull’orlo di una guerra civile. La repressione del regime nei confronti dell’insurrezione in questi ultimi giorni ha raggiunto il suo apice. Il bombardamento prolungato della città di Homs, una delle roccaforti dei “ribelli”, sta mietendo centinaia di vittime. Pochi giorni prima, l’insuccesso e il ritiro degli osservatori della Lega araba, dopo aver ammesso la propria incapacità ad arginare le violenze. Poi il mancato accordo per una risoluzione ONU su iniziativa della Lega araba che chiedeva le dimissioni di Bashar al-Assad e l’inizio di un processo di transizione verso la democrazia. Risoluzione che, pur escludendo l’intervento armato, viene bloccata senza mezzi termini dal doppio veto di Russia e Cina.

Mai come oggi gli occhi sono puntati sul lato armato della rivolta, quell’esercito siriano libero (ESL) costituito prevalentemente di disertori dell’esercito regolare che dal luglio 2011 si oppongono militarmente alla repressione. Gli Stati Uniti, pur escludendo un intervento armato diretto, pare comincino a pensare di sostenere l’ESL con armi e finanziamenti, con l’aiuto di Turchia, Qatar e Arabia Saudita. Dall’altra parte, Russia e Iran continuano a sostenere il regime e a rifornire le armate di Bashar al-Assad. Insomma si sta profilando una sorta di “guerra per procura”, con dinamiche simili a quella del Vietnam negli anni sessanta o, per restare nel Vicino Oriente, sullo stile delle guerre civili in Libano.

La rivolta armata e la propaganda del regime – Quella che oggi si dispiega sotto i nostri occhi ha l’aria di una “profezia che si autoadempie”. Il regime ha sostenuto fin dall’inizio che la rivolta fosse armata, pilotata da elementi stranieri, frutto di un complotto internazionale e mossa da ragioni etniche: sunniti contro alawiti. Anche quando evidentemente non era così. Nella versione del regime, la repressione contro i manifestanti è sempre stata presentata come una lotta a degli invisibili “terroristi” e a non ben identificate bande armate. È stato lo stesso Bashar al-Assad, in un discorso tenuto al Consiglio del Popolo alla fine del marzo scorso, a fissare questa narrazione degli eventi, deludendo non pochi siriani che speravano almeno in un parziale riconoscimento del dissenso crescente nel paese e nell’apertura verso una via d’uscita pacifica che al tempo appariva ancora realistica. Oggi alcuni degli elementi che costituiscono la propaganda del regime sono divenuti realtà: è vero che la rivolta armata ha assunto un peso importante. È vero che l’intervento straniero è sempre più pressante, prima sotto forma di pressioni economiche e diplomatiche e forse da ora in poi anche sotto forma di aiuti militari. È vero anche che gli aspetti etnici dello scontro sono divenuti più evidenti. Gli alawiti, gruppo minoritario cui appartiene la famiglia di Bashar al-Assad, si sono quasi tutti schierati dalla sua parte, anche come risultato dell’abile propaganda del regime che ha sempre dipinto la rivolta come diretta alla creazione di uno stato islamico al cui interno gli esponenti di altre confessioni religiose sarebbero marginalizzati o, peggio, perseguitati. Alcune delle bugie del regime si sono trasformate in, almeno parziali, verità.

Il vento della Primavera araba – Ma non è sempre stato così. La rivolta siriana è iniziata spontaneamente ed è ancora prevalentemente una rivolta autentica, portata avanti da cittadini siriani senza l’aiuto di nessuno. Le richieste dei manifestanti sono per lo più estranee a discorsi di tipo religioso: si chiedono libertà, democrazia, giustizia sociale. E, nonostante tutto, i manifestanti pacifici continuano a costituire il vero motore della rivolta. Tutto ha avuto in inizio in Tunisia ed Egitto. La rivolta siriana non sarebbe probabilmente mai avvenuta senza le precedenti Primavere Arabe. L’effetto domino in questo caso è lampante. Quando la cosiddetta Primavera Araba è cominciata nel Nord Africa, in Siria scatta qualcosa. Piccoli dettagli, ma che insieme disegnano un deciso cambio d’atmosfera. Quando ero a Damasco, nell’inverno del 2010, la trasformazione era evidente. È sufficiente guardare ai dibattiti che affollano i siti d’informazione in quel periodo: si commentano le notizie sulle insurrezioni contro Mubarak e Ben Ali, ed è facile passare da questi argomenti alla situazione in Siria. Quasi non te ne accorgi. In fondo i problemi sono e restano gli stessi in tutti i paesi arabi: corruzione, crescente differenza tra ricchi e poveri, umiliazioni quotidiane, mancanza di libertà, un’economia che declina apparentemente in modo inarrestabile. Si parla di Egitto e Tunisia, e in realtà si parla di Siria.

Il fenomeno non riguarda solo internet. Anche al di fuori della rete l’atmosfera sta visibilmente cambiando. La tradizionale remissività e apoliticità che ha sempre caratterizzato la popolazione sembra cominciare a sbriciolarsi. Atti di bullismo e prepotenza che prima erano tollerati a testa bassa sono ora accolti con crescente insofferenza. A febbraio vengono organizzate le prime manifestazioni, davanti alle ambasciate egiziana e libica, per esprimere solidarietà alla Primavera Araba. Poi è accaduto qualcosa che era impensabile fino a qualche mese prima: decine di persone a Damasco scendono in piazza a protestare contro la violenza di un poliziotto nei confronti del figlio di un negoziante. I manifestanti gridano “il popolo siriano non sarà umiliato”, che successivamente diverrà uno degli slogan più diffusi nelle proteste successive. Damasco è quindi la prima a muoversi, cosa che oggi può sembrare incredibile. Il 15 marzo gruppi di giovani si riuniscono al suq (mercato) Hamidiya: è la prima volta che vengono girati e sono diffusi in rete i filmati realizzati con telefoni cellulari. Al-Jazeera, la rete pan-araba del Qatar, uno dei canali più visti del mondo arabo, comincia immediatamente a trasmetterli, permettendo anche a chi non ha una connessione internet di sapere cosa sta succedendo. Il 16 marzo i parenti di alcuni prigionieri politici si riuniscono di fronte al ministero dell’interno. Le forze di sicurezza intervengono duramente, colpendo con forza i manifestanti e arrestandoli a decine. Piccoli gruppi di oppositori continuano a scendere in piazza, ma si tratta di un fenomeno ancora limitato. Finora a muoversi è stata unicamente la “società civile” damascena: una classe medio-alta di intellettuali e giovani che lavorano nel campo della cultura come giornali, organizzazioni civili, gruppi di diritti umani.

La dinamica delle proteste è cambiata in quegli stessi giorni. Nella piccola città di Deraa, nel sud del paese, un gruppo di bambini muniti di bombolette spray scrive sui muri slogan contro il regime. L’emulazione della rivolta egiziana è fin troppo chiara: le scritte sono copiate da slogan anti-Mubarak usati dai giovani egiziani del 25 gennaio. I bambini le hanno copiate direttamente dai report di Al-Jazeera. La reazione del regime è immediata: i bambini vengono arrestati. Il giorno successivo i genitori e le famiglie dei bambini scendono in piazza a protestare, incoraggiati da quella stessa atmosfera che si era materializzata qualche giorno prima a Damasco. Le forze di sicurezza intervengono, sparando: ci sono i primi morti. I funerali divengono occasione per manifestazioni ancora più ampie, e una repressione ancora più feroce. I villaggi vicini corrono a sostegno di Deraa. I manifestanti si contano a migliaia. È cominciata la rivolta siriana.

L’evoluzione della rivolta – Da Damasco l’insurrezione si sposta alla provincia, e alle elite si sostituiscono ceti medio-bassi. Si tratta molto spesso di quegli stessi settori della popolazione che prima costituivano il pilastro di sostegno del regime: contadini, operai, impiegati e piccoli commercianti che negli ultimi quindici anni sono stati abbandonati e penalizzati dalle riforme di liberalizzazione. Sono loro che hanno maggiormente risentito della crescente corruzione dei circoli di potere che gravitano intorno al regime e del taglio progressivo degli aiuti statali. Altre città e regioni si uniscono progressivamente alle proteste: Banyas, Nawa, Homs, Latakia, Idlib, Qamishli, Hama e tante altre. All’inizio le proteste nascono da esigenze diverse, localizzate: ogni regione ha le proprie richieste e le proprie lamentele contro il regime. Soprattutto, all’inizio non si chiede la caduta di Bashar al-Assad: gli slogan domandano la fine della corruzione, riforme, più libertà.

È la repressione feroce del regime a dare unitarietà a questa catena frammentata di sollevamenti. Ed è la repressione del regime a radicalizzare le richieste dei manifestanti. Man mano che i morti arrivano a decine, poi centinaia di manifestanti, la legittimità del presidente si sgretola progressivamente, e le manifestazioni divengono un’aperta rivolta contro Bashar al-Assad e il suo regime. Si tratta di un’insurrezione pacifica: nessuno all’inizio pensa di poter usare le armi contro l’esercito e le forze di sicurezza. Il controllo dell’esercito da parte del regime è totale, quasi tutti gli ufficiali sono alawiti e di fedeltà assoluta.

Ma anche questa storia comincia a cambiare: qualcuno comincia a prendere le armi per vendetta, cominciano le prime diserzioni individuali e la formazione di gruppi armati anti-regime. La profezia del regime diviene realtà e la guerra civile sembra avvicinarsi, anche se è ancora evitabile. Ma nel guardare la situazione attuale non bisogna dimenticare mai come la rivolta è cominciata e di chi è la responsabilità della sua parziale degenerazione.

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