Archive for the ‘Grassroots Activism’ Category

Syria: Getting out of the abyss that Assad has created, before it is too late

Father Paolo Dall'Oglio

Father Paolo Dall’Oglio

Interview with Father Paolo Dall’Oglio by Antonella Vicini, 9 January 2013 from Reset – Dialogues on Civilizations (translated by Mary Rizzo)

A discourse that in fact reaffirms the status quo and sixty thousand deaths that since 15 March 2011 (to January 2013, tr. note) have plunged Syria into a bloodbath: Bashar al-Assad and the Organisation of the United Nations have indicated the salient points of the current situation in the country. The former, speaking from the House of Culture in Damascus in front of his supporters, proposed a three-stage plan that substantially eliminates the revolutionary forces, labelled as “Western puppets” and the latter, in recent days, has published a series of disturbing numbers. From July to now, in correspondence with the increase of the military offensive, the dead are calculated at about 5 thousand per month, mostly civilians (approximately 76 percent). But this is only partial data: right from the title of the report the word is in fact of Preliminary Statistical Analysis of Documentation of Killings in Syria. “This figure is far higher than we expected. And it’s really shocking,” said the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. Also higher than the 45 thousand victims counted so far by groups linked to the opposition.

Torture, attacks on protected sites, the use of banned weapons and in general the human rights violations are delineating – as can be read also in the last report dated 2012 of the Independent International Commission of Investigation on Syria led by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro – a conflict with an increasingly sectarian character that is now extended also to those minorities initially “inclined to be neutral and non-hostile” and that reveal the presence of foreign fighters “with their own agenda.” A conflict that brought “immeasurable destruction and human suffering to the civilian population” and that cannot foresee “any military victory.”

“The only way to achieve an immediate cessation of violence is a negotiated political solution that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.” Thus was the conclusion of the updating of the Syrian situation relative to September and December, 2012, probably simplifying the complexity of the current situation on the ground.

The person who knows the Syrian context, in its areas of light and shadow, is no doubt someone like Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, who has lived in the country for over thirty years. Founder of the monastic community of Deir Mar Musa, in the desert north of Damascus, Father Paolo has always been engaged in interfaith dialogue with the Islamic world and until last June, before being forced to leave by the regime, has spoken about the tragedy that he has witnessed daily in first person accounts.

The new UN report has just been released where a denouncement is made of 60 thousand deaths since the beginning of the conflict.

I cannot make an assessment of the number of deaths on a technical basis because it’s not my task to do that, and I note that often revolutionary movements tend to drive up the numbers for propaganda purposes. But the UN, bringing together different reasonably credible sources has arrived at an even greater number (15 thousand more compared to the 45 thousand already reported, ed. note). This does not surprise me, but I am afraid that once the dust has settled, when you can make a more accurate count, the numbers will be even higher. You cannot perpetrate months and months of aerial bombardments on civilian populations imagining to get balances of victims that look like surgical operations, which are also more than questionable on moral grounds. In Syria there is no action to hit the Resistance leaders but to kill the Syrians, en masse. The moral code of the Assad regime is one is with Assad or there will be destruction of the country.

How do you explain the substantial absence and delay of the international community on Syria?

Once defined by the regime, and by its friends, the “Islamist threat” in Syria, the international community has self-legitimised its maintaining a position of stalling and waiting: there will be no democracy in Syria, then there is no reason to take steps to activate for democracy of the Syrians. We are faced with a paradox, this position of wait-and-see has created the conditions for the expansion of radical Islamism.

The revolution, as a whole, has condemned the first actions of these groups as conspiracy actions conducted by the Syrian state. I never succumbed to this temptation, but remote-controlled manipulation is nothing new in the Syrian panorama, and there have been regime manipulations of extremist cells. Without simplifying, I say that the activity of Islamic extremism was part of the regime’s postulate since the very beginning, where they claimed the revolution was terrorism paid for by foreigners, then when this area branched, complex and effective, it has been able to take the initiative and the head of the revolution in military terms, these groups have provoked in the international community a self-justification to refrain from action. There was an incredible miscalculation and these same groups have exploded in the hands of the regime.

In the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, it is said that, given the situation on the ground, a military solution to the conflict is now impossible, and that it is instead desirable to begin negotiations. But at this moment a negotiated solution seems impractical.

The regime wants negotiations to the extent that it needs more time to continue the systematic destruction of Syria and thus enter into the third phase and try to take the country back in its own hands. I was expecting that the regime in Damascus would work to divide the country on the line of the Orontes, once acknowledged the fact of not being able to maintain control over everything. Faced with a general revolution the only thing possible would be a Syrian Kosovo, hedging their bets on Alawite solidarity and other minorities living in that area, such as, in fact, the Christians; this is a solution accepted by Iran (Shiite, ed. note) as a lesser evil. This has not happened so far and in revolutionary circles it is said that it cannot happen because the rebels have so deeply penetrated even in that area that the regime would no longer be able to have such a division.

Why had it not chosen the way of secession as long as it was possible?

I can give you two reasons. One is psychological. Bashar al-Assad has always said I am a man of Damascus and not of the Alawite mountains. His cultural and mental space is all of Syria. In this sense, paradoxically, Assad would be a “non-sectarian”. He uses his sect for his power, but a power that if it is not of the whole of Syria, it does not interest him. We see this as a disconnect between his own idea of ​​himself and reality.

The other hypothesis assumes that the regime is a complex matter, divided between Ba’ath ideology, which is obviously not for secession, and the logic of the Alawite family. These two souls have been separated in time but not enough to contemplate the geographical dislocation of the country.

You have spoken of the need to begin to govern at least the liberated zones.

I have written in Arabic just two days ago, on Facebook, asking the head of the coalition to immediately set up in the liberated territories the sole government of transition. It is an operation that should be done immediately because it would eliminate the impression that the Syrian revolution is now entirely in the hands of Muslim extremists who are subversive and clandestine and they can begin to restore the country to the Syrians. On the ground there are practical problems such as lack of water, electricity, labour, wages.

Do you believe it is still too early to talk about the future of the minorities?

It is not early, in fact you have to talk about it now, but it is very difficult to see the future because of the omission of international relief. There is hope that the revolution as a whole may have a capacity of self-discipline that allows them to form that unity of the country in the reconciliation desired by everyone in the democratic revolution in Syria. Only some extremist military groups seem to threaten the destiny of minorities, even if they have never attacked Christians as such.

In recent days, however, there was a complaint by Mother Agnes Mariam (Carmelite and superior of the Deir Mar Yocoub monastery of Qara, known to be very critical of the rebels, ed. note) in this regard.

Mother Agnes knows how to dose the words and she is only, I repeat and I emphasise, the (able) clerical expression of the deceitful manipulation action of the Syrian regime. Mother Agnes is a self-proclaimed leader of a movement that does not exist on the ground, Musalaha (Reconciliation, ed note), and it is a real problem because for her interpretation of the facts is always selective and one-sided: that the revolution is terrorism!

How do you see a possible Syria after Assad and after nearly two years of war?

I believe that the profound nature of democratic Syria will be a laboratory of civil evolution and policy making of the Islamist Arab area of great interest. Syria has a cultural dignity of Islam that is different from that of the Gulf.

This is my vow, my hope and also the space of my commitment. At the end of January I will participate in the commission of the Syrian revolution that deals with preventing the massacres in the moment of victory and I hope, in February, to be able to re-enter the country. Syria cannot win the revolution leaving a hundred thousand Alawites deaths in its wake. We must find a way, even ideological and theological, to say that there will be no revenge against the Alawites and that all criminals will be judged with fairness.

See http://www.resetdoc.org

Nun on Irish visit accused of peddling ‘regime lies’ about crisis in Syria

17/08/12

MARY FITZGERALD, Foreign Affairs Correspondent (The Irish Times)

AN ITALIAN Jesuit expelled from Syria in June due to his outspoken criticism of government violence has accused a controversial nun who visited Ireland last week of peddling “regime lies” about the crisis there.

Fr Paolo Dall’Oglio, who lived in Syria for 30 years and has been heavily involved in interfaith work in the country, described Mother Agnes Mariam as “an instrument” of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. “She has been consistent in assuming and spreading the lies of the regime, and promoting it through the power of her religious persona,” he told The Irish Times yesterday. “She knows how to cover up the brutality of the regime.”

During her four-day visit to Ireland last week, Mother Agnes Mariam, who is superior at the Melkite Greek Catholic monastery in Syria, gave media interviews in which she claimed Christians in Syria were facing “extinction” and that rebels battling Assad were predominantly foreigners linked with al-Qaeda.

Fr Dall’Oglio, who has spent time with opposition activists in several restive parts of Syria, said these claims were “ridiculous” and constituted regime propaganda.

“I have been there, I know the people, including the youth, who are working for the revolution, and I know that what she is saying is insane. It corresponds with the regime version of the facts,” he said.

Mother Agnes Mariam, who visited Dublin and Belfast, had separate meetings with representatives of the Irish Bishops Conference justice and peace committee, Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe, Nobel peace laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, and an official from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

One of her interlocutors here was taken aback when the nun claimed during their meeting that the Houla massacre, in which more than 100 civilians, more than half of them children, were killed, was an elaborate hoax concocted by rebels. This week a UN commission of inquiry concluded that Syrian government forces and the pro-Assad militia known as shabiha were responsible for the massacre.

In March, Mother Agnes Mariam was accused of running a “misinformation campaign” by a US-based Syrian opposition group called Syrian Christians for Democracy.

It said she maintains “close ties” to the Assad family and alleged she had fed selected visiting journalists “distorted facts and fake testimonies for the sole purpose of tarnishing the opposition’s image”.

The group referred to the role of a number of Christians in the Syrian uprising.

“Mother Agnes and those helping her are harming the Syrian people by disseminating negative pro-Assad propaganda and tearing at Syria’s social and religious fabrics,” it said. “The Christians in Syria, as well as the rest of the population, are in need of undivided support, backing, and funding. They do not need divisive rumours and the propagation of inaccurate information.”

Mother Agnes Mariam’s trip to Ireland was organised by Alan Lonergan, who acts as churches liaison officer with Sadaka, an Irish pro-Palestinian advocacy group, though he arranged the visit in a personal capacity.

“The impression people have of what is happening in Syria is very black and white,” he said. “We need to examine more of the grey area.”

Filed Under: Assad’s Regimedistorted factsItalian JesuitMother Agnes MariamPropaganda,Syria

http://syrianfreedom.org/nun-on-irish-visit-accused-of-peddling-regime-lies-about-crisis-in-syria

http://www.irishtimes.com/premium/loginpage?destination=http://www.irishtimes.com/news/nun-on-irish-visit-accused-of-peddling-regime-lies-about-crisis-in-syria-1.538877

thanks to Treasa

suora    This is a letter that can be sent to every venue that is hosting Mother Agnes-Mariam De La Croix as a speaker. It can be personalized and altered as required. As activists and responsible human beings, we cannot stand by while an apologist for genocide is given a platform in spaces that claim to promote peace, justice, and human rights:

Dear Sir/Madam,

In reference to the visit of Mother Agnes-Mariam De La Croix, the Superior of the Monastery of Deir Mar Yacoub, (and any other persons participating at DATE/ADDRESS), we would like to draw your attention to the following:
Large scale massacres against civilian populations have been committed by government military forces and pro-regime militias in Syria. Those invited to speak about this immense tragedy should be examined carefully as to their position in support of the forces behind the massacres. It is unethical to give a platform to persons who support these massacres or facilitate them by spreading information that has been proven again and again to be misleading, false, and in many cases pure propaganda of the regime perpetrating the crimes. It would be completely unconscionable for a religious or spiritual organization to put their facilities at the disposal of such persons.

We fully respect the principle of debate and freedom of expression, but in this case the person you have invited expresses blind support for a dictator who has massacred and is still massacring his own population, including over 11,000 children. The only reason for this violence is the regime’s intention to crush any and all people who stand up for their human rights and who they deem to be a threat to their tyrannical rule. The regime has killed countless numbers of people for trying to exercise their right to free expression. It is clearly evident that the uprising in Syria started peacefully, and was not militarized. Nor was it based on religious intolerance or sectarianism. It began with non-violent protests demanding reforms and basic freedoms that they had been denied for far too long. These protests were met with extreme violence and repression, and in order to justify that, a machine of propaganda was put in place, disseminating lies, passing off hoaxes as fact, and claiming that minorities in Syria were under threat of harm from religious extremists. The speaker you have invited is one of the key players in this propaganda machine, many of her claims have been debunked by experts and witnesses, while the voices of those murdered by the regime have been silenced once and for all.

The peaceful nature of the protests that your guest attempts to depict as a violent insurgency against Syria’s minorities has been recognised by the European Union, the United States and the United Nations. The crimes against humanity committed by Assad have also been recognised by these entities, as well as by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. People in Syria only took up arms against the regime when the killing had reached such a scale that they were forced to defend themselves and their families militarily.

We are astonished that you have made your venue available to supporters of a murderous dictatorship. What is happening in Syria is in the public domain and cannot be ignored. Support for this project may amount to complicity in crimes against humanity. This is not just a legal issue but also a moral one.

It is extremely ironic that the photo used by the organisation promoting the event depicts damage in Syria caused by airstrikes. It is common knowledge that ONLY the regime possesses air power and the capacity to bomb cities and residential areas in this way. The use of the image in this way is further evidence of the bad faith of the organisers of this event. 

We request that you cancel this event immediately and we would like to suggest that you organise a new event that will present what is happening in Syria in a truthful and objective way. We thank you for your solidarity with the people of Syria.

sirin

WRITTEN BY Sirin Bekdash, translated by Mary Rizzo

Refugees #1

“How old are you? You look very young.”

She smiles at me in a way that it seems she has not gotten love for years, “24, 4 of these are my children. My husband has gone to a better world.”

Her eyes are green, they are not deep, but they sparkle. They say that suffering becomes light in the eyes of those who have tried it, I’ve just seen proof of that.

Refugees #2

“Take off your hood so I can fit you with this sweatshirt.”

“But my hair is a mess.”

“Well what does it matter now, it’s not important.”

“Then how should I expect to get married? I’m at the right age for it… I have to look good, I could put on my best clothes, but they fell into the sea already 3 times and the suitcase is soaking wet. I’ve been rescued each time, but the gel gets lost…”

“Don’t worry, girls like tussled hair. Tell me, is there anything else you need?”

“Yes, how many years separate us in age?”

But his was that innocent kind of questioning that is the sweetest thing that exists in the world.

Refugees #3

I learned in a week of life more than I have 3 years. You don’t learn about history by reading what’s in the newspapers, but in the eyes of the people, they have the power of incinerating paper.

Refugees #4

I stroked her fragile legs, I forced a hug, I placed a sweater over her shoulders.

I gave her a chocolate but she did not close her fist and it fell to the ground.

I asked her to choose a toy but with a chilling stare, her mouth dirty or maybe even wounded, in short, crusted, she looked beyond.

“Are you hungry little one?” She did not answer.

“Are you cold?” She did not answer.

“Are you afraid?” She lowered her gaze.

Can I die of fright in her place?

Please God

Refugees #5

This sounds terribly selfish I know, but I need those refugees more than they need me. I depend on them much more than they depend on me.

Refugees #6

There are those who wonder how you fall asleep without love, tonight I ask myself only how fall asleep in a station.

Refugees #7

Certain phrases on the walls touch my soul.

“No human being is illegal”

Refugees #8

An elderly woman with a scarred face. I do not know why, I just know that I look at you and I think that the more valuable a vase is, the more noticeable its scars will be.

Refugees #9

Slender, a back broken from 120 days of travel, 2 children in tow.

It makes me think of bamboo plants, incredibly thin trunks that are able to be tall and resilient, it leaves an impression on me.

Refugees #10

A “shukran” uttered by you has the power of reconciling myself with the world.

Refugees #11

They arrived at their destination, refugees do not put limits on Divine Providence.

Refugees #12

My mother has never had to scold me or spank me, she would tell me something was not to be done and I did not do it.

But these myopic laws…no, you cannot respect them. Mine is not an invitation to disorder but a call to demand those rights that even we one day might need.

Refugees # 13

“I’ve been travelling for two months, may daughter and I. The two of us alone.”

I prayed so that my mother would not die, she is not sick , she’s fine alhamdulillah. Then I cried silently for such a sad prayer.

Refugees #14

“What’s your name habibty?”

“Salam”

Nomen Omen, what the ancients said in Latin; your name is an omen, your destiny.

Refugees #15

I’ll reveal a work that combines mysticism and action: helping others.

Refugees #16

Probably the pages of history books will not give testimony to all the blood that Arabs have offered for free. But no matter, liber scriptus proferetur, in quo totum continetur. “A written book will be brought forth, in which everything shall be contained.”

Refugees  #17

“It’s all because of that Tunisian Bouazizi! Is it not true that it’s only his fault that all this has happened? I just wanted to live in safety and before there was safety.”

I was clamping my hands over my ears until they began to hurt. It’s a lie, an atrocious lie. But with what courage can I say that to those who have lost everything in war?

Refugees  #18

It took only a little to give me euphoria and just as little to make me sad, a goodbye. When you talk of fingerprints I seem to see you running with ankle weights. When you talk of Sweden you seem like a sunflower that stands proud and tries to get close to the sun.

Some of the hundreds of civilian victims of the Sarin Nerve Gas massacre in Ghouta. Gassed in their beds by the Syrian regime.

Some of the hundreds of civilian victims of the Sarin Nerve Gas massacre in Ghouta. Gassed in their beds by the Syrian regime.

WRITTEN BY Amr Salahi
A green light to Assad

Ever since the Syrian regime gassed its own citizens in the Damascus suburbs in a chemical attack on August 21, the issue has rarely been out of the Western news media. However, the debate has been very simplistic. Any observer would be forgiven for thinking that the only crime committed in Syria was this chemical attack, and that the Syrian people had not been subjected to a genocidal war at the hands of a ruthless sectarian dictatorship for two and a half years.

Of course, the original cause of the conflict has been largely forgotten. Outside Syria, not many people remember the peaceful protests calling for freedom and democracy that began the Syrian revolution in March 2011, and how those protests were met by the Assad regime, with unarmed protesters being slaughtered in the streets and children who wrote slogans on walls or took part in the protests tortured, on many occasions to death, in the regime’s jails. It was only after many long months of killing and oppression that defecting soldiers from the regime’s army formed the Free Syrian Army, to defend peaceful protesters as well as ordinary citizens from government attacks.

An observer of the debate would also be forgiven for thinking that the countries of the world are divided on Syria. The received wisdom on the Syrian conflict is that the United States, its allies in NATO and the Gulf States are offering support to the rebels while Russia, China, Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah are supporting the regime. Bashar Al-Assad’s regime likes to paint itself as part of an “axis of resistance” against US and Israeli imperialism which includes Iran and Hezbollah and is supported by Russia; this is why it has gained support from the anti-imperialist left in Western countries. A closer look at the support the regime is receiving vis-a-vis the “support” the rebels are receiving from their supposed allies shows that there is in fact little difference between the major powers on the Syrian issue. Russian ships carrying weapons, including aircraft, dock regularly in Latakia and Tartus, ensuring that the regime remains armed to the teeth and able to fight on despite the military setbacks inflicted on it by the rebels. Iran has not only sent weapons to the regime but also troops and advisers. It is believed widely in Syria that these advisers are the real rulers of the country. Hezbollah was instrumental in the regime’s ruthless bombardment and capture of Qusair, and its fighters now line up alongside the regime in Deraa and Aleppo.

On the other hand, the United States and the European countries have given rhetorical support to the Syrian opposition while making sure that the Free Syrian Army remains unable to defeat the government’s forces by imposing a strict arms embargo. For example, last year the Free Syrian Army managed to acquire anti-aircraft weapons but the United States and NATO refused to allow them to be transported to Syria and they remained in storage in Turkey. In June this year, following a regime chemical attack on the town of Saraqeb, the Obama administration announced that it would arm the Syrian rebels. To-date they have not received a single bullet from the United States or from any of its European allies. The FSA’s main source of weapons remains those captured from the regime or those sold to it by corrupt regime officers. It is thought that Gulf countries have supplied weapons but not on a scale that would tip the balance of the conflict. The main factor ensuring that the conflict and genocide continue, and the Assad regime stays in power, is the continuing embargo on weapons to the Free Syrian Army, which lacks the heavy weapons needed to defeat the state’s armed forces.

In order to understand the position of the United States and its European allies, it is helpful to look at the statements of Israeli officials. While the main pro-Israel lobby group in the United States, AIPAC, publicly declared its support for strikes against the Syrian regime following the most recent chemical weapons attack, it is much more evident that Israel would in fact prefer Bashar Al-Assad to remain in power. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged US Secretary of State Kerry to reach a deal with Russia that would avoid a military strike on Syria, expressing fears that a US strike would strengthen the Syrian opposition and allow it to gain control of Assad’s chemical weapons. Netanyahu’s office later issued a denial that any such exchange took place.

In November 2011, relatively early in the Syrian revolution when there was no serious talk of an Islamic extremist presence in Syria, Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli defence ministry official, said that Assad’s removal from power would be “devastating for Israel”; the Zionist state, he added, would then face an “Islamic Empire” encompassing Syria, Jordan and Egypt run by the Muslim Brotherhood and committed to its destruction. In May 2013, shortly after an Israeli strike on Damascus, Ephraim Halevy, a former director of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, went much further in an article in the American journal Foreign Affairs. Calling Assad “Israel’s Man in Damascus” he spelt out the reason why: for the past 40 years Assad has kept Israel’s “border” with Syria quiet and guaranteed its security. What Halevy means is that Assad has allowed Israel to occupy the Golan Heights, undisturbed by any resistance. Another Israeli intelligence official summed up the Israeli position towards the conflict in Syria thus: “Our ‘best-case scenario’ is that they continue to busy themselves fighting each other and don’t turn their attention to us.”

Israel’s attitude to the Syrian conflict allows us to consider the developments that have taken place since the chemical attack in a new light. After President Obama announced that the US would strike Syria, anti-war activists and left-wing “anti-imperialists” were up in arms, as were right-wing pro-Israel Republicans in the United States. There was much comment that the rebels fighting against Assad were sectarian extremists with links to Al-Qaeda, who posed a threat to Syria’s minorities, especially its Christian community, and that they were just as brutal as Assad. Conspiracy theories without any evidence which blamed the rebels for the sarin attack received mainstream coverage and were used to argue that the US and its allies were being dragged into an Iraq-style war.

Sadly for the conspiracy theorists, the evidence that the Syrian regime carried out the attack is incontrovertible. The United Nations report on the attack published on Tuesday, which does not assign blame, nevertheless concludes that it was launched from Mount Qassioun, a major government military base outside Damascus from which attacks against the Damascus suburbs are launched regularly. The report also concluded that the attack was launched using M14 rockets, which only the regime possesses, and that the sarin used was of a quality that could only be produced on an industrial scale using the resources of a government. The Assad regime’s own reaction to the attack points to its responsibility, and to its sectarian character. First, it denied that any such attack took place; then it conceded that the attack happened but blamed the rebels; then a few days later the world was treated to the bizarre spectacle of Syrian government spokeswoman Buthaina Shaaban appearing on Sky News to claim that the child victims of the attack were in fact brought to the Ghouta area from Latakia province (an Alawite-majority area 300 miles away) by “terrorists” and then killed. The government did not declare any period of mourning for the 1,429 victims of the attack and, in fact, its supporters were seen celebrating and handing out sweets on the streets of Damascus in its immediate aftermath.

The anti-war activists and their new-found allies the Assad supporters and right-wing Republicans need not have worried. Despite a great deal of emotional language from John Kerry about the use of chemical weapons and the 426 children who died as a result, Obama’s strike threat dwindled away to nothing. From being a “limited” attack to punish Assad, but not tip the balance in favour of the rebels, it became an “unbelievably small” one, as Kerry called it on his visit to London, to a non-existent one, when Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov agreed to a deal which would allow Assad to keep his conventional weapons and continue using them to kill his own people, but oblige him to give up his chemical weapons. It is doubtful whether the deal will be backed by a binding Security Council resolution, and it is estimated that it will take until the middle of 2014 to destroy the chemical weapons. This is probably the first time in history that a criminal is to be punished simply by taking away one of his weapons.

The deal struck between Kerry and Lavrov makes almost everyone a winner. The United States can continue posing as a supporter of the Syrian people; Israel is satisfied that “their man in Damascus” is still in place; Russia can continue arming Assad and today appears to have stood up to the United States, when in reality there is little difference between the positions of these two nations on the Syrian issue; and Iran can continue to participate actively in Assad’s sectarian war while pretending that it is standing up to the United States and Israel. The anti-war campaigners are in ignorant bliss because they believe that they have stopped a war on Syria, not knowing or caring that Syrians are still enduring the most horrific war since the genocide in Rwanda. The only losers are the Syrian people.

For two and a half years, they have been pleading with the world to stop Assad’s war against them but to no avail. The chemical attack is only the latest chapter in this genocide. Constant efforts have been made in both the mainstream and alternative media to belittle the suffering in Syria, discredit the casualty figures and assign blame to the opposition for the regime’s crimes but what is happening is genocide by any standard. United Nations figures reveal that 110,000 people have been killed since the Syrian revolution broke out in March 2011. Seven million people have been displaced and the death rate is approximately 5,000 people per month. Only the regime has the capacity to kill and displace people on this scale and it has now received a green light to continue killing its own citizens, as long as it doesn’t use chemical weapons.

The suffering and the genocide of the Syrian people will be detailed in the part 2 of this article.

http://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/7448-syria-genocide-by-international-consensus-

Written by NOT George Sabra. [Submitted this to any number of publications, none picked it up. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone after Rania Masri…]

The anti-war movement in the West got what it wanted: the war in Syria grinds on without the involvement of the only force capable of ending the bloody stalemate, the U.S. military.

The anti-war movement in the West accomplished what it set out to do: American F-16s remained grounded while the Assad regime’s MiGs returned to the skies to bomb hospitals for the first time since Bashar al-Assad crossed President Obama’s “red line” on August 21.

The anti-war movement in the West succeeded: the big guns aboard America’s battleships parked off the Syrian coast remained silent as the regime’s big guns opened fire once more on defenseless civilian neighborhoods.

The anti-war movement in the West won a great victory: while the war-making regime in Damascus enjoys the unlimited and unconditional financial, military, and diplomatic support of Iran and Russia, the popular uprising still stands alone as the red-headed stepchild of the Arab Spring, without a steady source for the heavy weapons it needs to survive.

These are the bloody real-world consequences of this so-called anti-war movement’s triumph in the West.

This movement that arose on the basis of Sarah Palin-style concern for Syrian lives – “so we’re bombing Syria because Syria is bombing Syria?” – is nowhere to be found now that the regime’s savage campaign to end their lives has resumed in earnest. This movement that was so worried about the fate of innocent Syrians in the face of American bombs has not uttered a single word, not called a single Congressman, nor organized a single demonstration to demand the Obama administration send Syrians gas masks, something the administration has steadfastly refused to do despite its talk about basic human decency and the sanctity of children’s lives. Thus, the administration and its anti-war critics are united as one in treating Syrian lives as fodder for their political agendas, as a rhetorical device in finely-worded speeches about high-minded principles and universal ethics.

Leading figures of this movement like Rania Masri (who should know better because of her workaround Israel-Palestine) continually draw a false equivalence between the infrequent atrocities committed by a poorly armed, untrained, undisciplined, disorganized rag-tag opposition desperate to save themselves and their families from an oppressive dictatorial regime that uses sarin, tanks, jets, scud missiles, and artillery against them daily. Imagine blaming “both sides” for the carnage of the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising and you get an idea of how monstrous this is.

What is worse than this “anti-war” movement’s highly selective faux outrage over the plight of the Syrian people are the bald-faced lies it continually spreads to substantiate its position.

In the run up to the 2003 Iraq war, the anti-war movement fought the Bush administration’s lies with pure, unadulterated truth. Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter declared that Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed by the U.N. in the 1990s and pointed out that Iraq was a basket case militarily thanks to a decade of crippling U.N. sanctions. For his trouble, Ritter was shut out of the halls of power as lawmakers in Washington, D.C. authorized President Bush to disarm a disarmed Iraq by invading and forcibly occupying it.

In the run up to the 2013 Syria war that wasn’t, the anti-war movement fought the Obama administration’s truths with pure, unadulterated lies. Antiwar.com founder Justin Raimando saidthe Assad regime’s sarin gas attack in Ghouta on August 21 was a “hoax” and referred to it sarcastically as a massacre – in quotation marks. Retired CIA officer Ray McGovern and his Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) claimed that the Ghouta gassacre was a false-flag attack staged by the opposition in a bogus, unsourced Curveball-style “report” that VIPS plagiarized from Global Research, a conspiracy theory website founded by a man withdirect ties to the Assad dynasty.

“Bush lied, people died” is what the anti-war movement said when the Downing Street memo revealed that the Bush administration fixed the facts and the intelligence around their policy of regime change in Iraq. This time, the movement lied, Syrians died as anti-war activists went into overdrive to spin the facts and intelligence coming out of Syria in 2013 to fit the Iraq template of 2003. U.S. politician Dennis Kucinich even recapitulated in his own way Donald Rumsfeld’s infamous handshake with the Butcher of Baghdad as he was gassing Kurds and Iranians by having friendly sit down with Bashar al-Assad in the middle of his killing fields.

The movement to stop U.S. military action failed in 2003 and succeeded in 2013. In both cases, the result was needless bloodshed and brutality borne by people far from our shores.

Sryrian Children. Worth more than all the "pundits" put together. They should be seen AND heard.

Sryrian Children. Worth more than all the “pundits” put together. They should be seen AND heard.

Written by Mary Rizzo
For well over two and a half years, there has been a war in Syria. Some will call it a Civil War, and yet… these same people who call it a civil war (despite having been repeatedly corrected by fighters on the ground that it is an Intifada, an uprising and a revolution) are now finally taking to the  streets to chant, “No War – Hands off Syria” as if it is currently waiting for a war to start and are simply being targeted by the West for imperial expansionism. A variant on the theme, they shout, “Stop the War” and again, they don’t mean to in any way address the bombing that has destroyed most of Syria, they mean the air strikes that a very few Western leaders are threatening to do to a very limited amount of targets inside Syria. Why on earth would the Western leaders do something like this when for two and a half years they have not done anything more severe than “deplore” the use of barrel bombs and carpet bombing of residential areas? Because they had to in some way establish a point of no return and it randomly fell on the use of Chemical Weapons.

It is beyond all reasonable doubt that the Syrian regime (which had admitted they possessed these weapons and have the only means to have implemented their use on a massive scale this August, exposing 15,000 people, including the elderly, women and children, to lethal nerve gas while in their beds) used Sarin Gas against its own people. Many more details about its acquisition will come out in the future, but at the current moment, over 1,500 have succumbed to it immediately (including hundreds of infants and children) and thousands more who have been exposed have had to deal with its very dangerous effects. So, I would think that any human being would be against the use of this weapon, considering it to be an atrocity that should not be ignored or even in the slightest way defended.

But what has instead happened? After the international news agencies, refusing to support the revolution also due to the fear that the western public has of any change of regime in the Arab world and an allergy to revolutions in general, finally displayed a fragment of the visual evidence of people suffocating to their deaths, their bodies writhing in pain or struck by uncontrollable spasms, the solidarity world started to move. But how did it happen that instead of condemning the atrocity, they are rallying around the Syrian regime and demanding the contradictory “no war” and “stop the war”. It seems that the western solidarity industry (yes, that part where people make a living as “activists”) again has been working overtime to keep its overwhelmingly white, male, western and older pundits on their pedestals. From these pedestals, they lament of the terrible hypocrisy of the very West (where most of them thrive and are “alternative media stars”. (Hint: the Syrian people sure have very little use for them, if they even know who they are).

The Western activists who have not opened their mouths in support of the popular revolution that they have pretended to have supported for the Palestinians but when push comes to shove, even over 1,600 Palestinians murdered by the Assad regime and tens of thousands sent into further exile, have been silent and uncaring, are disgusted by the hypocrisy of their own leaders. This is the argument they use: The West didn’t come in and in any way strike those who were using chemical weapons against the Palestinians, so the West is comprised of freedom hating hypocrites.  And this position begs the question: does this mean that if the US and the West had acted in this way for Palestine, it would not have been intervention, but something else instead? And if it is something else, what would they classify it as? Could it be exactly what the Syrians who are besieged in many parts of Syria and subject to ethnic cleansing and massacres have been begging for?  This seemingly contradictory stance (intervention for Palestine is considered as “good”, intervention for Syria is considered as “evil”) is at the core of what I will call “the Waffle Syndrome”. Waffling on a position and changing it according to a specific point of view fuelled not by a revolutionary vision of liberation and freedom, but by an ideological position of “anti-west” activism and money to be made in a cause that has long ago entered into the discourse thanks to the hard work of many activists (in primis Palestinians and Arabs, with the support of some Westerners who run the gamut from pan-arabists to anarchists, Marxists and anti-imperialists).

If the sudden interest in the death of Syrians (which of course, if you follow the discourse of these pundits, will only start when NATO bombs the living daylights out of Syria, so the “humanitarian” thing to do is to wash “our dirty hands that have always been evil” of it and stay out now… in stark contrast with the calls to support the Intifada and Arabs that were part of the discourse until the Arab Spring actually happened!) is going to do anything for Arab-Western relations, it is going to heighten the distrust not only of the West, which never does what it says it will, or which uses the pain of other people as a means to get involved in international disputes, but it is going to bring the level of hatred for western ACTIVISTS who are showing now, like never before, that they have not got a grasp on even the very basic and core ideals of revolution or struggles to liberate oneself from an oppressor.

sarinWhen push comes to shove, when the most widely condemned atrocities are added to atrocities that started from shooting peaceful protesters and arbitrary arrest and torture of civilian political opposition and even of children, leading up to the absolute destruction of most of Syria where the majority live (leaving the minority who sustain the bombing of their own country by their own leader unscathed because it maintains their privilege- similar to the theory of “if you want an omelette, you have to break a few eggs” of imperialist memory) it is clear that the bulk of the activists stand by the perpetrator of the crimes and against the common people, the refugees and the unarmed. They are following the hasbara (Israeli propaganda that knows it is propaganda and a narrative) tricks used against the Palestinians, accusing them of using their homes and people as human shields for terrorists. It is a new version of hasbara, but applied to the Syrian people: claiming to be with the Syrian people but selectively ignoring any crimes against them except for the few that the Syrian regime and propaganda machine want them to be scandalised by, specifically if they are backed by flags with Islamic or Islamist slogans. The problem is not that Assad is bombing the Syrian country into oblivion and driving one quarter of its population into refugee status. The problem is that there are evil foreign agents who will impose their will on Syria. They are imperialists and Islamists, and in a three-card-shuffle, these two diametrically opposed entities are scratching one another’s back, as if they have the same goal and interests. As far as the Wafflers are concerned, they are the same, and they use the same reactionary rhetoric that the hasbarists use against the Palestinian struggle for liberation.

But what is worse than the lack of interest of the “activists” and their support of the regime “because the alternative is worse FOR THE SYRIANS”, if you follow their rhetoric? It is the hypocrisy they have regarding the very issue of intervention and the role of the international community.

They have not seemed to have ever taken the streets or set the internet on fire with their calls against intervention in Syria before. They seem to ignore that for years there has been foreign intervention in Syria, that Russian weapons and experts, troops from Iran and Hezbollah, have been waging the war already, fuelling it and at times even bringing their own soldiers home in flag draped boxes. Are they unaware that Russian intervention has also used the tool to advance their personal agenda and interests, the tool that every single one of us for years had believed was the “original sin”: the UN Veto of a resolution condemning an act of war or imposing a restriction on intervention. It seems that the arms embargo against the revolutionary Free Syrian Army has been in force while there has been no such restriction in arming the regime. If it is a civil war, it is indeed alimented with great gusto by the Russians by means of the unethical tool of their power to impose their will by means of a veto.  It is this waffling and hypocrisy that will deepen the gulf of “misunderstanding” between the people of the Arab world and the “caring” West, which is represented by impotent leaders or reactionary, counter-revolutionary activists who are expert navel-gazers.

PLEASE don't tell the Syrians things will get bad once they start getting bombed. They might think you are insane.

PLEASE don’t tell the Syrians things will get bad once they start getting bombed. They might think you are insane.

Because, when it comes down to it, the counter-revolutionaries are going to scream bloody murder when a protester in Berkeley gets pepper spray in her eyes by the cops and at the same time defend the ruler in a regime where rule of law and democracy has never been in force, there is some heavy-duty orientalism/superior thinking going on. Evidently, a single protester in the USA is worth more, or the belief that Americans deserve full rule of law and justice but Syrians just must persevere because they have to resist “Western Imperialism” is rife. And why is this idea so common? Because (as usual) the Western activists have a great deal of trouble accepting that maybe they don’t know better than “the other” what’s better for them. They impose their fears on them, their ideology is naturally “revolutionary” but it does nothing in the slightest to back the revolution, and in fact, uses the terminology that the reactionary right/hasbarists have been using against the Palestinians for decades. They say that they would really support the Syrians, but they “know” that the Islamists are worse than Assad. How do they know this? Because they watch Press TV (run by an Islamic Theocratic state that incidentally finances Assad’s regime because it is holding back the majority rule in Syria, which would likely be democratic or in the lack of that, Sunni dominated) and they read who I have been referring to for years as the “fat white male western pundits”.

For years, I have managed and run various sites for Arab freedom causes, and for years, I have placed at the top of those sites articles and commentary written by Arabs. I believe that if you are able to serve a cause, the first task is to listen, then if you can, amplify the voice of the oppressed. But, while the names I published and translated on my site were overwhelmingly Arab, the names getting the big circulation on the web and doing the well-paid speaking tours were non-Arab, many times they were actually Israelis (ostensibly speaking “for” the Palestinians), almost all the time they were male, the educated élite of punditry and most of them were at least a generation older than those who were marching in the streets for their own rights. It was a rare thing to see the actual protagonists saying, “this is what I think, this is what I want, this is what I want from you”.

All of that has changed so much recently. There is a vast range of articles written by Syrians about their situation, by Palestinians about their situation as “double refugees” and by Arabs around the world who want to express solidarity with those of their language/culture and often religious affiliation. More than that, any week of the year, you can see the posters from the marches INSIDE Syria. Yes. After two and a half years, they are still marching in their streets and expressing what they want. They are not props set up by anyone, they are not the pawns of someone else’s interests, they are THOSE WE ARE SUPPOSED TO LISTEN TO AND EXPRESS SOLIDARITY WITH. What are they saying? Are they begging for the world to ignore them and let them sort it out on their own? No. In fact they are saying what they have been saying since the beginning, “if you don’t help us, we will be killed”.

Can the message get any clearer?

Can the message get any clearer?

Are you prepared to understand what kind of help they have been begging for from the start? They have been first of all asking for protection from the bombs. That means that those who are in the streets in the West have ignored for two and a half years that an entire population has been bombed night and day and that hundreds of thousands of them have lost everything they had. How could the “No War” people have missed this? Oh, that’s right, they have been listening only to the well-paid, popular, fat, white, western guys who get money from Press TV or Al Manar to tell them what is happening in Syria. They don’t actually have to LISTEN to Syrians or watch their videos that they load with constancy despite the difficulties, because they WANT us to know and to do something. They have been asking for the lifting of the arms embargo against the Free Syrian Army, which they recognise as their liberation force. The first commander of the FSA said (two years ago) that if the FSA were armed adequately, they would finish the revolution in a matter of weeks with no direct foreign intervention. He also said that if this did not happen, there would be other forces around who would not wait to form militias and enter into Syria, without the same revolutionary goals, and definitely not with an interest in a Syria for all of its people, even those who currently support Assad.

I suppose the most ironic part of the waffling hypocritical “activism” world that woke up now to “stop a war” that they aren’t even sure exists or not, and if it does, what kind of war it is, is that they claim to be anti-Zionist, but when for the first time a true threat to the Zionist state has been uttered by the regime and some of its supporters (Iran and Hezbollah) as the Syrian regime Army Generals warned “in case of attacks on Syria, ‘Israel will burn’ and that if Syria weakens, ‘certain irresponsible groups’ will be formed that would endanger Israel,” they don’t seem to understand the actual regional dynamics – or else they really don’t want anything to threaten Israel, whose own “security” has always trumped Arab rights and Arab lives.

Now, here is the core of the hypocrisy. Evidently, a Syria that accepts the provocations of Israel without responding, that accepts for decades the occupation of Syrian soil and helps to actually displace once again more Palestinians and to engage in a “scorched earth” policy with regard to what is supposed to be a threat to Israel (Syria itself), is considered as “resistant”. It is considered as an idea that is beyond the pale to bring Israel into any kind of conflict, and if there is such a thing, it can only be considered “irresponsible”. Israel has got to be left alone, not even a slap on the wrist, the Syrian regime is the one that sees to their protection, they are their border guardian not only throughout the decades, but more than ever now that Syria might actually lose Assad as its leader.

The expansion of the conflict is not what anyone wants, and in fact, Assad has seen to it to be the exact party not only to maintain the Israeli status quo, but to also keep any kind of anti-west or anti-pluralism elements at arm’s reach. If nothing else, this statement alone shows the fundamental flaw of the reasoning of at least a portion of the “solidarity activists against the war”. Now, not only will they be used to enhance the totalitarian, Arab-hating and Islamophobic forces in the area, but they will be given the legitimacy that they don’t get from their own people. Once again, Imperialism Wins! The Westerners know BETTER! And there is an important lesson to be learned, and repeated by any kind of “oriental despot”: massacre your own people in their sleep and the “solidarity” champions will make a hero of you.

 

Quello che stiamo vivendo è una rivoluzione, per favore ci dovete capire

Quello che stiamo vivendo è una rivoluzione, per favore ci dovete capire

Scritto da Salwa Amor, tradotto da Mary Rizzo

Giornalista britannico – siriana Salwa Amor dice che il movimento Fermare la guerra – Stop the War ha perso il rispetto dei siriani, non sostenendo la loro rivoluzione.

Dal momento che la rivoluzione in Siria è iniziata due anni e mezzo fa ed è stato salutato da un regime oppressivo con una forza senza precedenti, il mondo sembra essere stato in silenzio sui crimini in corso che si sono verificati. A parte un paio di discussioni qua e là su i canali all-news, sembra a quelli all’interno della Siria che il mondo non si preoccupa di ciò che sta avvenendo nella loro terra e se il loro governo sta commettendo crimini contro l’umanità o no.

Prima della minaccia della guerra in Iraq gli arabi hanno ritenuto che l’Occidente (il popolo non i loro governi ) finalmente cominciavano a capire la loro lotta contro l’oppressione, l’occupazione e la dittatura. La Marcia del Milione che si è svolta per le strade di Londra è stato un punto di riferimento per le persone in Iraq e l’intero mondo arabo, era la prima volta che sono stati in grado di vedere una solidarietà visiva verso le loro continue lotte.

Fast forward al 2011 e un 26enne che lavorava come venditore ambulante in Tunisia si mise, insieme con l’intera regione araba, a fuoco in quella che sarebbe diventata la primavera araba. Egitto ha seguito l’esempio e il movimento contro la guerra hanno applaudite mentre erano testimoni ad un altro paese arabo che rovesciava il proprio dittatore tiranno.

Ispirato da Bouazizi, quello stesso gennaio un uomo in Siria anche desse fuoco a se stesso , sperando che le fiamme che hanno bruciato il suo corpo sarebbe l’ispirazione ai suoi concittadini a ribellarsi contro il loro dittatore. Il nome di quell’uomo era Hasan Ali Akleh. La sua storia non è così conosciuto, in realtà è stato appena documentato. Forse perché il Paese da cui è venuto non fa notizia, ma è stata la scintilla che ha illuminato i cuori di almeno alcuni siriani, siccome le proteste iniziarono lentamente a prendere vita in Al Raqa quello stesso mes , anche se hanno ricevuto poca o nessuna attenzione dei media.

Cospirazione occidentale?

Come le proteste avevano cominciato ad essere più frequenti, Assad ha orgogliosamente proclamato che egli è stato vittima di un complotto imperialista dell’occidente sostenuta da Israele e che avrebbe combattuto, succedesse qualunque cosa. E combattere il ciò che ha fatto, ma a differenza dei leader di Tunisia o d’Egitto, Assad ha usato i suoi armi più micidiali, principalmente realizzati in Russia che gli è stata fornita gratuitamente. Siriani feriti negli ospedali  vi racconterebbe delle bombe TNT che avrebbe letteralmente messo centinaia di buchi nei corpi delle vittime, lasciandoli ad implorare la misericordia della morte.

Eppure il movimento contro la guerra e la sinistra guardavano in silenzio mentre la furia assassina ha continuato per due anni e mezzo, con la paura che l’Occidente avrebbe usato questo per i propri interessi e di invadere un altro paese, in nome della libertà. Da un punto di vista politico che avevano ragione – l’Occidente “diffondere la democrazia e la libertà”, solamente dove i suoi interessi sono forti. Dal punto di vista umano, invece, la sinistra sì è sbagliato di grosso questa volta.

Come persone di coscienza, coloro che lottano per la pace e movimenti per la giustizia hanno una maggiore responsabilità nei confronti di quelli sotto l’oppressione, e temo che il movimento di sinistra e contro la guerra è caduto negli occhi dei siriani in tutto il mondo. E quando dico siriani, non mi riferisco agli alawiti, il 7% che hanno subito il lavaggio del cervello a lealtà verso Assad, perché ci sono alcuni di loro che si sono uniti alle proteste contro la guerra che chiedevano “nessun intervento in Siria”. Hanno il diritto di dire la loro come chiunqu , ma loro non rappressentano la maggioranza dei sirianni, come molti nella sinistra hanno suggerito.

Rivoluzione siriana

Se la sinistra c’era dalla parte dei siriani ordinari in tutto e dichiarato il loro sostegno per la loro rivoluzione come hanno fatto con la Tunisia e l’Egitto non sentirebbe come uno schiaffo in faccia alla rivoluzione, quando oggi si levano in piedi fuori dal parlamento chiedendo nessun intervento in Siria. Non è sufficiente in questa fase alla fine del gioco per chiamare semplicemente per nessun intervento. Ci deve essere il supporto per i rivoluzionari che hanno rischiato la loro vita per 30 mesi nella loro richiesta della libertà.

Se i socialisti/comunisti e sinistrorsi non supportano gli oppressi e gridare per la libertà, allora c’è qualcosa di molto sbagliato. Il movimento ha il diritto di chiedere al loro governo di non intervenire in guerre all’estero, ma per lo meno si dovrebbe tenere cartelli che raccontano siriani che hanno perso le loro case, le famiglie e la dignità che “noi, il popolo della Gran Bretagna siamo con voi”. Holding cartelli che dire “Nessun intervento e non toccare la Siria ” sembra ai siriani che siete dalla parte di Russia e la Russia è ed stava intervenendo fin dall’inizio (con le sue navi da guerra a Tartous dopo la 5° mese della rivolta e la maggior parte delle armi che hanno siriani uccisi erano un regalo di Assad da Putin).

Se la posizione dei movimenti  è “no all’intervenzione”, allora deve includere la Russia e l’Iran altrimenti è davvero unilaterale. Forse la sinistra è indulgente verso i crimini della Russia, perché non sono impegnati in nome dell’imperialismo occidentale, o forse la Russia e anche lo sfondo socialista della famiglia Assad e legami a marxismo e comunismo hanno accecato la sinistra che non riesce a vedere le loro colpe.

In qualche modo quelli che sono contro l’imperialismo occidentale sono diventati cieco da un occhio, vedono chiaramente i crimini dell’Occidente, ma la vista della loro altro occhio è bloccato da una credenza o una speranza che il mondo sarebbe un posto migliore se solo il capitalismo sarebbe rimosso insieme con i suoi ideali imperialistici.

Purtroppo, la storia ci insegna che il male esiste in molte forme e maniere, che non è definita in base al colore, religione o razza, ma risiede in tutti coloro che sono in vita, così come l’altruismo e la bontà. L’Occidente non può prendere la colpa per la Siria, non perché non è degno di biasimo per gran parte della sconvolgimenti in Medio Oriente, ma perché ci sono altri mali del mondo.

Scoraggiante

E ‘veramente scoraggiante vedere un movimento che è stato costruito per sostenere gli oppressi che è così poco solidale della rivoluzione siriana. E’ come se essi hanno completamente trascurato la rivolta. Quasi come non è mai successo, o che tutta la crisi può essere descritto come una cospirazione imperialista occidentale.

Non erano i siriani oppressi e umiliati per 40 anni? Non era la polizia segreta in Siria responsabile per avere istillato paura intollerabile nei cuori dei giovani e meno giovani o la causa di migliaia di morti sotto tortura? Per ridurre la rivoluzione siriana ad un complotto imperialista occidentale è che implica che tutto il male del mondo deriva da Ovest. Assad non era da Ovest, la sua polizia segreta che hanno torturato i bambini fino alla morte erano siriani, nati e cresciuti in Siria, lontano dall’occhio vigile del West.

Questo Sabato fermare la guerra terrà un’altra protesta contro l’intervento occidentale. Come si può discutere con la loro logica, l’Occidente infatti impone le sue idee sul mondo intero. Eppure, la prossima protesta e le sue parole d’ordine incarnano l’essenza della supremazia bianca della mente; imporre le loro credenze e le richieste sulla rivoluzione del popolo siriano. Nessun intervento , Giù le mani dalla Siria non sono slogan che sono venute dalla Siria, nemmeno lontanamente, quindi, si deve presumere che essi sono gli slogan che vengono imposte al popolo siriano.

Perché se si curava di leggere e tradurre solamente alcuni dei cartelli che quelli nelle città assediate all’interno della Siria dimostrano con orgoglio alle luci dei media  di tutto il mondo avrebbero scoperto presto che il più famoso e diffuso di tutti è SOS ! I Siriani stanno implorando aiuto, non possono prendere i bombardamenti, la fame, la mancanza di acqua e di diffusione della malattia, i corpi sotto le macerie o dei bambini che sono sepolti vivi in loro. Quindi, chi sono alla sinistra in Gran Bretagna a dichiarare giù le mani dalla Siria quando invece sono i siriani a chiedere aiuto?

Fermare la guerra è una organizzazione di base il cui lavoro è prezioso in Gran Bretagna e all’estero e la rivoluzione siriana non è diverso, è la lotta di un popolo che la sinistra ha spinto sotto il tappeto per paura dell’imperialismo occidentale. L’ironia è che i siriani stanno combattendo per la stessa cosa per cui battono i Stop the War, ma la tragedia è che la sinistra non metterà la sua paranoia del West in attesa per un tempo sufficiente per sentire le grida che esce delle macerie dalle loro controparti rivoluzionarie siriane.

5PIllarz originale http://www.5pillarz.com/2013/08/29/stop-the-war-must-support-the-syrian-revolution/

No "more" bombs...the ones from Russia and Iran dropped by Assad's army can keep coming though... there are terrorists, you know.

No “more” bombs…the ones from Russia and Iran dropped by Assad’s army can keep coming though… there are terrorists, you know.

RE: Stop the War in Syria

Hello Antiwar Activist,

How are you? It’s been 2 and half years. I’ve missed you. I hope all is well. Thank you for writing back. Yes you’re right, we have to stop this war!

I am glad you are here now. We can use your help. You are against war, right? So you must really care about the Syrian people and want to help save them from the tragedies they have endured for far too long. Let me catch you up to speed so you can join the effort to help end this war.

The media is telling us that the West is about to attack Syria. You seem concerned. Just a heads up, Israel attacked Syria a month ago. The West attacked Mali last year, Libya the year before that, and continues to use drones worldwide every day. I didn’t hear from you then so you probably just didn’t get the memo. The war isn’t just about to start. It’s actually been going on for 2 and half years. 100,000 people are dead. 1 out of every three people is displaced. 1 out of every 3 people needs humanitarian assistance. The medical system has collapsed. And third of the country is in rubble because conventional weapons are being used indiscriminately every day.

So, the West is about to attack. We don’t want foreign military intervention right? Oh but Iranian and Lebanese forces have been there for some time now fighting with The Government’s army, and along with Russia have been arming them with sophisticated weapons. I guess that doesn’t count as foreign because those are not western countries. Israel attacked Syria a few times too but they are not Western so let’s forget about that too.

What’s important now is to stop the West. They’re always looking to start wars. They are the bad guy. So that means Syria must be the good guy. Oh you don’t know much about them. Let me fill you in. There is a dictatorship there. It’s been about 40 years. It comes with all the stuff you expect from good guys, no freedom of expression, no democracy, gross human rights violations, political prisoners, and complete theft of the economy. In fact one guy owns 60% of the entire Syrian economy! Hmm, let me see what else. Oh yeah they were responsible for the killing of an entire city of Hama killing over 20,000 people in 1982 and are a designated a state sponsor of terrorism since 1979. And in case you forgot they attacked, kidnapped, tortured, and killed peaceful protesters for the first 6 months of the conflict while people asked for their basic rights and freedoms. Most recently chemical attacks were used against people while they slept killing over a thousand men, women, and children. In case you were wondering, Syria has the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world.

But they are not the bad guys, right? It’s more important to stop the West because they cause collateral damage. Never mind the existing collateral damage caused by The Government that has reduced a third of the country to rubble and killed tens of thousands in the process. No need to protest against the daily indiscriminate missile strikes being used by Syria’s military because the 3 days of missile strikes by the West will be much worse for the people of Syria.

I mean who does the West think its fooling? After their claims about Iraq, who can believe them? There is no proof that a war exists in Syria and that The Government is responsible for anything. Maybe we should check with someone else who we can really trust. Let’s see what AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, UN-OCHA, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS, AND REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS have to say. What? You’re kidding me? There actually IS a war going on and The Government IS responsible for the vast majority of crimes against humanity. You mean they have been using tanks, airplanes, helicopters and snipers indiscriminately against the population? You know, I don’t think I have heard you mention this war. Maybe you believe that war is only bad when other countries get involved, and that it is not a war when the government attacks its own people?

Let us be clear. When you say stop the war, you don’t just mean that West should not attack? You also mean that The Government should stop indiscriminately attacking its own population? I don’t think those countless reliable sources are wrong when they have repeatedly documented that a war has been going on, that The Government is largely responsible, and that this is not acceptable? You are against war, right? Or maybe it’s okay if the war is just inside the country itself? I mean the government’s crimes against humanity are needed because their enemy is foreign jihads who eat human hearts. That’s the real bad guy. Oh didn’t you know? The foreign jihadis have always been there. They have been there for 40 years so that’s why it was okay to have a dictatorship that trampled people’s freedom for decades. They were there during the peaceful protests, that’s why The Government had to attack and kill peaceful protestors for 6 months. And they are everywhere now. No Syrian has ever picked up a gun to defend himself after seeing his wife raped, his children slaughtered, and his home razed. The 100 000 people killed and 6 million people displaced are all foreign jihadis.

Don’t you know that dictatorship, oppression, waging war, and committing crimes against humanity does not cause a local population to resist? This is all just one big conspiracy by the West. Syrians don’t have a problem from 40 years of oppression. The scenes of millions of people across the entire country protesting peacefully for the human rights were all faked. And if they weren’t, well they must have been orchestrated by the West. I mean any human rights activist can tell you how easy it is to mobilize nationwide protests in the millions for 6 months. Even in the face of torture and death, they continued to protest because the West wanted them to. It had nothing to do with any internal desire for their own basic rights. We all know how easy it is to brainwash millions of people to go in the street and protest day after day when you’re facing possible death.

I mean in the end, it’s the people you care about right? That’s why you don’t want the West to attack. Protesting against a limited Western attack will help the people much more protesting against a war that has destroyed the country for 2 and half years, calling for more help in the largest humanitarian operation in the history of the UN, or demanding our governments do something, anything REAL to stop the bloodshed. Protesting against a limited Western attack will help the people by stopping the war all together. That’s what you really care about after all, the people. It has nothing to do with protesting yet another American foreign attack. You are there to protest because you truly care about the people.

Hmmm but where have you been. I haven’t seen you protesting and lobbying your government to increase humanitarian aid to the people of Syria. You do know it’s the largest humanitarian disaster of the century? That there are over 7 million people who need humanitarian assistance? I haven’t seen you asking for more pressure on the Syrian government to stop attacking civilians indiscriminately. You do know not a single UN Security Council on Syria has been passed?

Well you are here now. Nice to have you. I hope I can count on you to help the people of Syria. We need all the help we can get. We need to stop this war. We need to help the people. Let us stand together in solidarity and call for an end to the war in Syria. Let us stand together and demand protection and aid for the people of Syria. That’s why we are here right. It’s not just about stopping a small scale limited Western military intervention. It’s about ENDING THE WAR! It’s about helping the people of Syria. We are activists for a reason, right? Stopping wars is not our end goal, it’s just a means to saving our fellow man from oppression.

I have been here for some time now. I am exhausted. It’s nice to have you next to me. This war will likely not end anytime soon. I hope you will stay for the long haul.

Thank you,
A Human rights Activist

Italian protest (No War = Pro Assad)

Italian protest (No War = Pro Assad)

by Fouad Roueiha, translated by Mary Rizzo
On the pages of Facebook, we find ourselves often reading the analysis on the situation in Syria. The writers want to appear that they have at heart freedom, justice, peace. Here a post that passes itself off as No-War but instead is something different and sinister. In this case the author is the “foreign policy” voice of Rifondazione Comunista, an Italian “armchair and cocktail party left party”. Thank goodness there are people that are able to answer in a correct manner, in this case Fouad Roueiha, an Italian-Syrian.

The Post: FA writes: “Here we go again.  Imperialism has found and presented to the world the casus belli to justify a new aggression. We are dealing with a curious case of self-fulfilling expectations.  Obama has been talking about chemical  weapons for months.  It is likely that the same were used to justify the war against Iraq. The  Syrian civil war is full of horrors, like every civil war. To feed into that there has been the contribution of many, among them, precisely the usa, gb and france, together with their allies of the oil monarchies, that fund and train the rebels, avoiding any kind of  political solution. In Syria there is a proxy war between powers, regional and international, that  are destabilising the entire area, as the recent attacks in Lebanon show.  We are opposed to any aggression by the united states, nato, gb  or france against Syria. Italy better say out of this umpteenth  neo-colonial adventure.”

The Response: Fouad Roueiha You have left us alone, in silence, when inspired by the shout of freedom of our brothers, also our voices filled the streets and our only weapons were hope, dignity and desire for democracy. Our chants for democracy, for unity and for non-violence filled the spaces of our squares that saw history be born, while the ancient pavements of our streets were coloured with our blood. For 6 months no one responded to he provocations, to the fierce repression, to the siege of entire towns deprived of water and electricity in the middle of the summer heat. Then, when the cheeks to turn simply were no more, when our freedom fighters (like yours did) ascended on the mountains risking not only their lives but also those of the their loved ones, then you have condemned us. When we were under overpowering superiority of hostile fire, fed by the men, arms and fuel of Iran, Russia, Lebanon, Iraq and even Europe, you did not lift a finger to hinder this flow of death towards our land, clearly those forces are the Empire of Good. But if crushed by lead, explosives and MiGs of The Good, our freedom fighters have accepted the (anything but disinterested) help of the antagonists of the Empire that pleases you, finally able to give substance to the defamatory accusations that since the first hour you have directed towards us. And don’t show me maps and statistics, analysis and numbers, those work well ” in society”, in your posh meeting places, but not for those who have heard the words and the chants of those who have taken to the streets… now isn’t that odd, in Syria the children do not ask themselves which international power benefits the most from their protests; they come down to the streets for their right to a future, to have the dignity of choosing their own destiny, to demand democracy, slogans that i recall having heard in many other places, even right next to yours in Piazza San Giovanni (traditional meeting place for the Italian left protests and meetings, translator’s note) or under Montecitorio (seat of the Italian Parliament), although Italy seems like a paradise of democracy compared with our land.

Syria protesters in Baba Amr (Pro-freedom = Anti-Assad)

Syria protesters in Baba Amr (Pro-freedom = Anti-Assad)

Calm down “comrades”, the States (that Italy welcomes with open arms, when the nazi-fascists raped the lands) will not come simply because is not their interest therefore without too much effort you will obtain the result wished by “peaceful” Fabio… but the 1500 dead of Ghouta, that must be added to 100,000 lives broken from Assad and companions, are not a casus belli, but a disgrace for humanity and for you particularly, you that love to pose as champions of the oppressed and of the have-nots but you are deaf if the enemy of those oppressed is not that “traditional” one, if what happens does not answer to your narrative of the world.

Dear lazy or know-it-all judges of other people’s history, do us a favour if you can: do not come to cry over our children, do not shed a tear at the funeral of our nation, you are not invited. 

p. s.

A special thanks to all those who (how it always happens in these occasions), in response to what I have written and from on high of their knowledge of my person, of my land, of the realpolitik and of the international geopolitics,  want to define me as a rat, jihadist, throat-cutter, spy on the mossad payroll… your contribution will be really precious.

No-War? Non proprio!

Ecco sulle pagine FB, ci troviamo spesso degli analisi sulla situazione in Siria. Devono sembrare che chi li scrive ha a cuore la libertà, la giustizia, la pace. Ecco un post che si spaccia per No-War ma invece è qualcosa di diverso e di sinistro. Menomale che ci sono persone che riescono a rispondere in modo corretto.

Il Post: FA “Ci risiamo. L’imperialismo ha trovato e presentato al mondo il casus belli per giustificare una nuova aggressione. Si tratta di un curioso caso di aspettative auto realizzatesi. Obama è da mesi che parla di armi chimiche. É probabile che siano le stesse usate per giustificare la guerra all’irak. La guerra civile siriana è piena di orrori, come ogni guerra civile. Ad alimentarla hanno contribuito in molti, fra cui proprio usa, gb e francia, insieme ai loro alleati delle petromonarchie, che finanziano e addestrano i ribelli, evitando qualsiasi soluzione politica. In Siria si sta combattendo una guerra per procura fra potenze, regionali e internazionali, che sta destabilizzando tutta l’area, come dimostrano i recenti attentati in Libano. Noi siamo contrari a qualsiasi aggressione da parte di usa, nato gb o francia contro la Siria. l’Italia stia fuori da questa ennesima avventura neocoloniale.”

La Risposta: Fouad Roueiha Ci avete lasciati soli, nel silenzio, quando ispirati dal grido di libertà dei nostri fratelli anche le nostre voci hanno riempito le strade e le nostre uniche armi erano speranza, dignità e voglia di democrazia. I nostri canti per la democrazia, per l’unità e la non-violenza hanno riempito l’aere delle nostre piazze che hanno visto nascere la storia, mentre i selciati antichi si tingevano del nostro sangue. Per 6 mesi nessuno ha risposto alle provocazioni, alla feroce repressione, all’assedio di intere città private d’acqua ed elettricità in piena estate. Quando poi sono finite le guance da porgere, quando i nostri partigiani (come fecero i vostri) salirono sulle montagne rischiando non solo le loro vite ma anche quelle dei loro cari, allora ci avete condannato. Quando eravamo sotto la soverchiante superiorità del fuoco nemico, alimentato dalle uomini, armi e carburanti di Iran, Russia, Libano, Iraq e persino dell’ Europa voi non avete mosso un dito per impedire il flusso di morte verso la nostra terra, evidentemente quello è l’Impero del Bene. Ma se schiacciati dal piombo, l’esplosivo ed i mig del Bene i nostri partigiani hanno accettato il (tutt’altro che disinteressato) aiuto degli antagonisti dell’Impero che piace a voi, finalmente avete potuto dar sostanza alle infamanti accuse che fin dalla prima ora ci avete rivolto. E non mostratemi cartine e statistiche, analisi e numeri, quelli van bene “in società”, nei vostri salottini, ma non per chi ha sentito le parole e le voci di chi è sceso in piazza… pensate che strano, in Siria i ragazzini non si chiedono quali potenza internazionale tragga vantaggio dal loro manifestare, scendono in piazza per il loro diritto al futuro, per aver la dignità di scegliere il proprio destino, per pretendere la democrazia, slogan che mi sembra di aver sentito da tante altre parti, anche da parte vostra in Piazza San Giovanni o sotto MOntecitorio, nonostante l’Italia appaia come un paradiso di democrazia confrontata con la nostra terra.

Tranquilli “compagni”, gli States (che l’Italia accolse a braccia aperte, quando i nazi-fascisti ne violentavano le terre) non interverranno semplicemente perchè non è loro interesse quindi senza troppi sforzi otterrete il risultato auspicato da tovarish Fabio… ma i 1500 morti di Ghouta, che si aggiungono alle 100.000 vite spezzate da Assad e compagni, non sono un casus belli ma una vergogna per l’umanità e per voi in particolare, voi che amate atteggiarvi a paladini degli oppressi e degli ultimi ma siete sordi se il nemico di quegli oppressi non è quello “tradizionale”, se quel che avviene non risponde alla vostra narrazione del mondo.

Cari ignavi o saputelli giudici dell’altrui storia, fateci un favore però: non venite a piangere i nostri bambini, non versate lascrime al funerale della nostra nazione, non siete invitati.

p.s.

Un ringraziamento particolare a tutti coloro che (come avviene sempre in queste occasioni), a seguito di quanto ho scritto e dall’alto della loro conoscenza della mia persona, della mia terra, della real politic e della geopolitica internazionale vorranno definirmi ratto, jihadista, tagliagole, spia al soldo del mossad…. il vostro contributo sarà davvero prezioso.

A tiny Syrian boy who has known mostly war and suffering in his short life, wants to pay humanitarian volunteers who have brought food to his family.

A tiny Syrian boy who has known mostly war and suffering in his short life, wants to pay humanitarian volunteers who have brought food to his family.

July 9, 2013 – Kafar Naha, Syria WRITTEN BY Asmae Siria Dachan, translated by Mary Rizzo

The moment of the distribution of food parcels in a context of war is always a moment of relief for everyone. Aid that arrives in areas that are continuously bombed and under siege, becomes vital for the civilian population. The families are ready to receive the donations, without ever giving up their own dignity and self-respect. No one has chosen to become displaced, no one has chosen to undergo a genocide. They are all victims and to rescue and assist them is an imperative for all of humanity.

For children it is a time of celebration: they get to see the vans with people who move from house to house and stop to make deliveries. Those young people, with their serene faces and their smiles, inspire confidence. They are the volunteers of two Italian-Syrian humanitarian associations Onsur, Global Campaign to Support the Syrian people and Ossmei, Syrian Organisation for emergency medical services in Italy. Among them is Abdullah Dachan, a student: he delivers a box to a man who is there with his son; the shy little one peeking from behind a wall. He was blonde, like angels in paintings, he must have been no more than three or four.

The tiny boy stretches out his hand that is clutching a coin and says, “Please ammo – (in Arabic-uncle) take this money.”

The volunteer stops in disbelief: how much dignity, how much fairness, how much innocent spontaneity in that little man, who would want to pay for what he has received. Abdullah asks the boy’s father if he can pick him up: he then hugs him, gives him a kiss, holding back the tears … tears of emotion and anger – why, why do these children have to suffer all this – he asks himself. “It is I who have to thank you, little friend. You gave me something beautiful, your smile and your courage,” are the words he would like to say to him.

In addition to the residents who are driven to exhaustion by the bombings, there are thousands of displaced people in that area. They have all lost their homes, their jobs, their freedom. Among them there are a few survivors of the massacre of Banyas. Civilians fleeing the horrors of a genocide that does not give signs of abating, while the world remains unmoved.

From the stories of the sixth mission in Syria Onsur-Ossmei

Original: http://diariodisiria.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/zio-ti-prego-prendi-questa-monetina/

A woman showing her devotion in the Pro Assad rally in Rome

A woman showing her devotion in the Pro Assad rally in Rome

WRITTEN BY MARY RIZZO

When one has the opportunity of having two events in Rome on the same day concerning Syria, it provides an chance of seeing not only the focus of our campaigning and the current state of the “narrative” in our relationship to what everyone can agree is a debacle, but it crystallises the strengths and weaknesses that we have as activists.

Even with a war going on, with the crackdown against protests in areas that are still under control of the regime, and with the enormous dangers and risks that protesters in liberated areas face, we can’t seem to truly mobilise the European public to come anywhere close to making a mass  solidarity movement that will have any kind of echo. We have to deal with perhaps a bit of expense or inconvenience, but we pretty much can be assured there is no one that might kill us for going to protests. We have to follow a procedure to get the permits and do some work to mobilise people, but in comparison, we have nothing to hinder us, so our turnouts should reflect our effectiveness in reaching a critical mass in the public opinion. We have of course had some great marches, there have been countless events, conferences, exhibits, but we have not really engaged the general public that is not already highly politicised or directly involved  into any kind of meaningful action. There are a very few people expending a great deal of energy and in essence, singing to the choir. And this is true ON BOTH SIDES.

So we take into consideration Saturday, 15 June. Back in April, a group labelled “European Front for Syria” called for an international march in Rome, the poster reading (in screaming capital letters): DON’T TOUCH  SYRIA! EVERYBODY TO ROME / 15 JUNE RALLY. In the call to the event, they prospect that there will be thousands of lions to sustain their President and Army (and if we trust their promotional videos, their Secular Socialist State) against those they label as Rats. Yes, they actually do make a long list of who the Rats are, and of course they don’t forget who their friends are: beacons of freedom Iran, North Korea, Russia, China, Venezuela and Cuba, and naturally, a party that is anything BUT Secular or Socialist, Hezbollah. Who exactly is the European Front? I don’t know, but they “joined Facebook in January of 2013”, evidently after 2 years of war and probably combining parts of various pro Assad groups.

Given that in a free society, such as is the Italian one, the right to assemble is guaranteed by the constitution, and all opinions are constitutionally protected. However, given that in order to achieve this free society, Italy was forced to undergo the a long and painful war to overthrow two decades of Fascism (a totalitarian system with no tolerance of dissent and no guarantee of rights). Therefore, a Constitution was written by the constituent entity that had to build a democracy from the ground up, incorporating segments of provisions that place some limits on rights that would be essentially a threat to democracy. Thus, in Italy, our constitution prohibits the reorganisation of the Fascist party, and the Scelba Law (known as the law against the crime of Apology of Fascism L. 645/1952) was introduced to implement its enforcement. The text of the law punishes “whoever constitutes an association, a movement or a group having the characteristics and setting the objective as the reorganisation of the defunct Fascist party, or whoever publicly exalts the exponents, principles, facts or methods of Fascism, or its anti-democratic objectives.”

moment of the Anti-Assad rally

moment of the Anti-Assad rally

One can and should ask if this provision though present in the Constitution, and subsequent Law place limits on freedom assembly and expression, actually violating constitutional legitimacy, given that freedoms of opinion are guaranteed by the articles of the Constitution and this constriction does not regard any other ideology, since in modern times, no other ideology had been effective in undermining freedoms and pluralism in Italy. But, leaving the rhetorical question to the side, the Italian government, given that it protects our rights of assembly must however guarantee that assembly meets constitutional and legal requirements. Any assembly in a public space, a rally, a march, even the setting up of a stand to sell oranges, requires the obtaining of permits. In the case of a political rally or demonstration it requires the approval not only of the Municipality but of the State Police. Whoever has organised any event in Italy has spent time at Police Headquarters and contacted the Cabinet of the Mayor. The state provides permits and public security (in many cases escort, officers in riot gear and a motorcade). Most marches in Italy have a massive presence of police, and like it or not, they help with the traffic flow for the streets being closed off, they serve as a barrier in case there are elements that threaten the public safety; at times they are discreet and at others, they are omnipresent.

So, with all of that in mind, if a march/rally is called, with the cost and inconvenience it is going to bring to the general public, it is conditional upon being within the law.

In the call for the Pro Assad rally, the associations that supported it were the bulk of the extreme right of Europe, and this could never have surprised anyone that took even the most random of glances at any of their publications, promotional material or the sites where they held their meetings. Some Romans active for the rights of the oppressed people in Syria and Palestine came to the conclusion that the organisers are part of groups that perhaps are not reforming the Fascist party, but certainly are proud of their roots in Fascism and make no secret of it. It is time to face the fact that while not ALL those who support Assad are Fascist sympathisers, ALL Fascist sympathisers support Assad. Would there be a danger of a march turning into a Fascist rally? Indeed, the supporters of Assad sought confrontation during a pro Revolution march in April in Rome, with the police (upon their own initiative) identifying  19 of them and a pile of stones at their feet, documented by independent photographers, were what was left behind as they were asked to leave the premises. With such precedent, the activists in Rome issued a petition which was signed by hundreds of people, Italians and internationals, and presented to the authorities:

“Called for Saturday, June 15 in Rome is a gathering of European nazi-fascist movements that support the criminal regime of Syrian dictator Assad. The Italian organisations involved are the most well-known groups of the extreme right-wing, from Casa Pound to the archipelago of neo-Nazi movements and apologists of Fascism.

The support of the nazi-fascist movements towards the Syrian regime is the consequence of the shared identity of views with a repressive, murderous and corrupt system; one that has been oppressing the people of Syria for decades and has responded with unprecedented ferocity to the demand for freedom and dignity advanced two years ago with demonstrations and peaceful demonstrations. The current military drift is the result of the regime’s brutal repression against a movement that remained peaceful for many long months, despite the assaults, murders, arbitrary arrests, the widespread use of torture.

We believe that the Syrian people has the right to live in peace and freedom to determine their own future and that, to achieve these objectives, they have the right to resist oppression, just as the Palestinian people and all the peoples of the world. For this reason, we stand against the dictatorship of Assad and any imperialist military intervention, including intervention from the States of the region.

We are on the side of the Syrian people, the Palestinian and all the peoples who struggle for dignity and freedom, against the occupation, repression, torture and massacres, this is why we are anti-fascists.

A rally of rogue Nazis from across Europe in support of the dictatorship of the Assad clan is an insult to Rome, the Gold Medal in the Resistance, and an insult all freedom-loving people. Do not let this shame pass in silence, let us build solidarity with the Syrian people.”

In addition to the petition, a counter-rally was organised in a public square just outside the historical centre to express dissent with the issuing of the permits and to give another voice to the Syrian struggle, that which seeks the end of the Assad Regime.  It added as a second theme the rights of Palestinian to self-determination and freedom. It certainly did not have 3 months to be planned, nor could it mobilise “thousands” from all over Europe to come, given the short notice during high season, when finding accommodation or economic transportation to Rome is nigh impossible. It had to adopt a local character, at the most people from the nearby regions could make it, and yet, calls were made through some posters and some messages on Facebook to bring activists and the general public to convene, no matter where their point of departure was.

Pro Assad rally in Rome

Pro Assad rally in Rome

Then…. The unexpected happened: two days before the Pro Assad rally, both the City of Rome and the State of Italy withdrew their permits to allow this event to take place in a public square. Not defeated, the group simply moved the rally into their Clubhouse, which is the space that is occupied by Casa Pound, a well-organised group of the extreme right, certainly not neutral or apolitical terrain! Definitely that would exclude that the message would reach the general public that did not already have an opinion on the matter, and definitely would restrict its scope. Any way one looks at it, it lost its character as a Roman Rally, and the hopeful descent of thousands of lions would just have to be more folklore along the lines of the popular mandate of Assad and the “millions” of lions in the streets of every city of Syria to support his regime.

So, absolutely, efforts made by those dissenting from the public rally were fully successful. Free speech was preserved, but NOT the violation of our spaces with the blessing of the authorities.

Our rally, as scheduled, continued and the speakers would also comment upon the successful efforts, as well as explaining the situation in Syria to the general public.

One can look at both rallies and one can make some observations: the first is, both of them were successful in some ways, and unsuccessful in others. The Pro Assad rally, while not drawing thousands, and most likely not a massive presence of Europeans, in the arc of an entire day it did several hundred, they claim on their page 400, maybe half of them were hidden since they certainly don’t appear in photos or videos, yet, in spite of that, whether 200 or 400, it is not a bad number. The Anti Assad rally, while not aiming at an international presence and in concomitance with some other major events for Syria the same day, drew around 100. There were many organisations that gave their moral support and adhered to the call, though they did not bring their numbers to the square.

The Pro Assad rally was highly professional, and it should not surprise anyone! As a matter of fact, in 2 and a half years of war, it is rare (and perhaps it does not exist at all) that these people have been engaged in any efforts to support anything but the permanence of Assad. While decrying specific horrors and lamenting of massacres and destruction at the hands of the rebels, these groups NEVER organise to bring any kind of humanitarian aid in. You will never see them raise funds for ambulances, clothing, medicine, food, blankets, tents and even water. Any efforts they make are solely and exclusively to support their own propaganda. In fact, their Facebook pages included all kinds of information so that people could donate to the Roman event. That, as you see, is the extent of their work, to win the information war with private donations. And they DO invest!!! They provide themselves with a fancy set, organise entertainment, video presentations, bring in TV troupes, have an infinity of gadgets, most of them bearing the face of Assad, organise press conferences and posters… they get loads of posters and banners out there! Definitely, they have economic leeway for these things. Which is what is the problem with the Anti Assad activism. Most activists are not just doing information work, but they are constantly raising funds for humanitarian relief. They are giving sometimes all the money they have to send a bit of goods here, a bit of money there, spreading it out to many projects, so that all the projects have some level of success and serve the Syrians in the refugee camps and the internally displaced. They are building field hospitals, supplying the Syrians with the basics that their own government does not supply them with.

You can watch some of these Pro Assad people go on and on about how Assad provides all, like a good father. They must certainly believe it, because they only open their wallets to find more ways to repeat those myths. Those against Assad are aware of the reality, and not only do they not “get paid” to go to rallies, as was the case with the sixteen models suing an agency that did not pay them for their participation in a march in a public square where they were to chant slogans praising Assad in Arabic and hold his picture and a Syrian loyalist flag. No, those against Assad open their wallets again to bring themselves to marches and rallies. They open their wallets to get a sound system, the minimum things necessary for a public assembly. Things are often on a shoestring budget, and often, met with resistance by others who are in the movement for the simple reason that, “our money has to go to the people who are suffering, not in marches”.

And, this is why, on a date when there was a fundraiser, most of the Syrian community attended that. This is why, while the political paradigm for Assad is almost the property of the extreme right, for their sharing of a common worldview, it also is shared by some in the extreme left who undersign the paradigm, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”: forgetting that whoever kills his own people is by definition an enemy of the people, whoever engages in arbitrary arrest and torture is an enemy of the people, whoever kills Arabs is an enemy of the Arabs and a danger for the entire Mediterranean.

Those misguided people probably didn’t go to the Pro Assad rally, as most of the pictures showed some families, with kiddies in strollers and grannies kissing the picture of Assad on a paper fan. The self-declared leftists perhaps would have felt more comfortable with the Revolutionary Socialists who were a large part of the Anti  Assad rally than with those dressed up in military fatigues and praising the army. They perhaps don’t even notice that while they are screaming against the “Salafis”, they are praising the theocratic State of Iran, taking the words of a Nun and a Priest with regime links as gold dripping from heaven and raising Nasrallah up as some kind of resistance icon. They probably even think he runs a secular party!

But then again: the Pro Assad folks know how to fight their information war. That is because they do not need to disperse their personal resources in aid. They apparently either do not care about the humanitarian crisis, or since the millions of victims who have lost their homes and possessions are probably persons the regime would be happy to exterminate, they can feel legitimated in claiming to be pro Syria, but ignoring the suffering of the Syrian people. They can’t teach us any lessons about humanitarianism, or even about resistance. But they can teach us how to promote themselves professionally, despite the gigantic downsizing of their event.

CONCLUSION: The Pro Assad people have a different focus, it is on “winning the information war” and to hell with the humanitarian disaster in Syria. The Anti Assad people throw most of their energy into raising funds to provide Syrians with the basics of survival. The Pro Assad people, despite all that work and economic investment that crosses borders to create a massive international event, managed to gather together a very small crowd. The Anti Assad people didn’t have the same mechanisms and certainly haven’t got a political space to fall back on. We have to work harder at convincing people that these events are ALSO important to attend, by Syrians and anyone who is a freedom lover. They present us a chance to stand in solidarity with the Syrians, to discuss among ourselves and with the general public and to in that way build the movement so that the sole beneficiaries of ALL efforts are the Syrian people seeking their rights and freedom.

the two posters of the events:

siria poster 2

don't

refugee camp of the Palestinian Nakba, 1948

refugee camp of the Palestinian Nakba, 1948

Commemoration Day of the Nakba is approaching. It is an important date that we must never ignore. All who know me are aware that my major interest for the past 3 decades has been to raise awareness of the Palestinian struggle and for those people to obtain their rights and justice, and for this reason, I have operated sites and written, translated, edited and shared articles on the issue, hoping to always allow the voices of the oppressed to have a venue to be heard. This Nakba day feels different from the others, though. For the first time, I feel that I am on the opposite side of the fence of many with whom I’ve campaigned for decades. I’m not talking about the Palestinians, who, by and large share the same views I do on the events of the Middle East, but I’m talking about the activism community in the West, the Left and those who consider themselves anti-imperialists.

What is the problem? The problem is that the focus in not at all about the plight of refugees and humans who are subjected to the greatest loss of all, especially in the moments of war or invasion, it is only about repeating a mantra that Israel and the West are the only enemies and anyone who is “VERBAL” about that, (it’s not required to actually DO anything to liberate occupied lands or to bring refugees back home!) has got to be backed and helped out no matter what any other policy is, particularly those internal policies that involve ethnic cleansing, oppression of part of the population, violence, arrest of any opposition, no matter if they are political or just average people on the street, extra-judicial killings and a vast list of crimes against humanity.

We have seen those who have fought for the rights of the Palestinians completely back the policy of genocide and ethnic cleansing carried out by Assad. All of this not based on his deeds, which include the active participation in the massacres and exile of Palestinians in Syria and prior to that in Lebanon.

refugee camp for Syrians in Turkey, 2013. Photo by Rana Sammani

refugee camp for internally displaced Syrians, 2013. Photo by Rana Sammani

We are seeing them deny the Nakba of the Syrian people because they are more convinced by fiery speeches than by a true liberation position that vows to protect the lives of Palestinians and at the same time mows them down along with the Syrians, because they dared to not take an active role in support of the regime or if they openly support the opposition. That is enough for the Palestinian camps inside Syria to be subjected to sieges worse than those in Gaza, carpet bombing, checkpoints, massacres and starvation, along with the destruction of their homes and exile, refugees once more, but this time with the denial of the proper documents by Syria so that they can register as refugees where they escaped to, a perverse strategy the Syrian regime uses to prevent them from obtaining their rights. The same fate of collective punishment of the Syrians. This alone should alarm ANY human rights activist, and even more so, those who campaign for Palestinian rights.

Shall we compare the numbers of the victims of these two crimes of displacement and forced exile?

During the 1948 Palestine War, an estimated 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled, and hundreds of Palestinian villages were depopulated and destroyed. (sources agree on this, from Benny Morris to Walid Khalidi)

Palestinian refugees in 1948

These refugees and their descendants number several million people today, divided between Jordan (2 million), Lebanon (427,057), Syria (477,700), the West Bank (788,108) and the Gaza Strip (1.1 million), with at least another quarter of a million internally displaced Palestinians in Israel. The displacement, dispossession and dispersal of the Palestinian people is known to them as an-Nakba, meaning “catastrophe” or “disaster”.

Syria (since the start of the uprising in 2011)

In August 2012, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that the number of registered Syrian refugees had reached over 200,000, exceeding the UNHCR estimate of 185,000 for the entire year. Also according to the United Nations, 6 million people inside Syria needed help and about 4 million Syrians were internally displaced because of the Syrian civil war.

By the early months of 2013 the UNCHR announced that the number of refugees had topped 1 million, and by March 2013 had risen to 1,204,707 people. A spokeswoman for UNHCR, Sybilla Wilkes, also reported that the rate of flight from Syria was increasing. “In March an average of 10,000 people crossing per day. In February it was 8,000. In January it was 5,000. The numbers keep going up and up.” It has been estimated that by the summer, the number of refugees will be 4.25 MILLION, only some of them registered with the agency because they have found refuge with families living abroad or are internally displaced, which does not record them at all.

700,000 is a lot of people displaced. It is a crime against humanity.

4.25 million is an astronomical number that barely is able to be imagined. The crimes against these people are also crimes against humanity.

If supporters of Human Rights for Palestinians ignore the displacement of Arabs, it is because they are in bad faith, ill-informed, or they do not have human rights as their core agenda. They hate the West (which most of them live in quite comfortably) much much more than they love the people who are subjected to oppression, and seek that they are not denied safety and rights. Justice and dignity are not what they care about, it is something else, and the sacrifice of the Syrian people and the Palestinians inside Syria has exposed all of this.

But, to be completely fair, it is not the concern of the Syrians themselves what the activists out here think. Many of them tell me they do not care about what the activists think and they no longer are interested in their support. They have shown their suffering to the world, they do not need the approval of anyone out of Syria. Even the hypocrisy does not faze them. They basically ignore what those people think, as it has no bearing on their lives. A just cause is a just cause, and the causes of Palestinian and Syrian people are just causes, and they do not get diminished by the neglect or double standards of activists. It is the luxury of activists like me, out here, safe and comfortable, to despise the hypocrisy and hope that this vile thing would change over time, as more and more people regain their reason and reject the empty rhetoric that for decades fooled a lot of us, and still does fool some. The Syrians have the conviction that victory will come to the righteous, that God will not allow them to lose, and that it is only a matter of time, but justice will come. This is why they are so much better than I will ever be, they do not waste energy on the useless emotions, they know the battle is where they live, fought on their soil, and they strive towards their goal.

pal ymPALESTINIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT
In general, the Palestinian refugee camps in Syria, and particularly Yarmouk camp, formed as the capital of the diaspora, are among the largest groups of Palestinian refugees and have been the starting point for many resistance operations, fueling the Palestinian revolution in its various stages and sacrificing many lives for Palestine. The last demonstration of resistance to their just cause was shown with their bodies alone during the commemorations of al Nakba and al Naksa at the border of the occupied Golan heights between Syria and Palestine, with eagerness for their stolen land, carrying with them the keys of return to their homes from before the brutal Zionist occupation, which they were forced to flee. Undeterred by the threats of the enemy, fire was opened and the bullets brought down many young martyrs.

Under the tense and disastrous circumstances in Syria, the camps have shared a large portion of what is happening as a result and it has led to the displacement and dispersion of many Palestinian families as well as their fleeing to different places within Syria, to neighboring countries, and European countries, effectively repeating the tragedy of Nakba once again to the very details, and in even worse conditions than before in light of a worsening Arab climate preoccupied with their own internal affairs. Further, the PLO has ignored any responsibility it has toward our Palestinian people present in the camps, without even minor levels of communication with the stakeholders of this situation to even mildly alleviate this tragedy.

For months, the Palestinian people have suffered numerous partial sieges and blockades imposed to prevent the entrance of aid and relief, from food and medicine for the camps to preventing the wounded and injured from seeking medical treatment outside the camps, having lost medical supplied at hospitals within the camps. In these past days, a full siege has been imposed on Yarmouk camp, which positions potential for a human catastrophe and which is threatening the lives of our families and brothers and sisters trapped inside the camp.

We, in the Palestinian Youth Movement, reject and condemn the policy of collective punishment against our steadfast families, brothers and sisters in the camps and we call on all concerned international actors, and UNRWA in particular, to exercise its role and fulfill its duty of providing relief to the Palestinian refugees. Furthermore, we call upon the PLO in request for the declaration of a state of emergency and for the PLO to intensify its efforts and pressure to lift this blockade, for the claim of legitimacy and representation is not just a slogan to chant as they please, but rather it is a responsibility to its people.

As the 65th commemoration of the Nakba approaches, we recognize that the tragedy of al Nakba is carried on as part of our daily lives, and rests on the shoulders of our brothers and sisters in the camps in unparalleled ways. However, our brothers and sisters in the camps remain steadfast as always and will remain the foundation of the Palestinian experience, and the meaning and basis of representation is lost if it does not represent the nucleus of its people, especially in the worst and most difficult of conditions.

Until Return and Liberation

www.pal-youth.org
in Arabic
http://hosted-p0.vresp.com/1383031/6f86706c4a/ARCHIVE

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

WRITTEN BY MARY RIZZO AND MALAK CHABKOUN

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!

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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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHCIg4sQWIE

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?

089

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.

http://diariodisiria.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/i-siriani-ditalia-in-piazza-per-dire-stop-al-massacro-del-loro-popolo/

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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

WHEN YOU AREWRITTEN BY RUTH RIEGLER

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.

http://wewritewhatwelike.com/2012/09/22/interview-with-a-free-syrian/ (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 http://wewritewhatwelike.com/2012/09/22/interview-with-a-free-syrian/

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.