Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

moMona Oudeh, an Ahwazi activist based in London, said in an interview with Al-Sharq Newspaper that she has always carried the burden of the Ahwazi cause like every other Ahwazi Arab woman who rejects and repudiates the Persian occupation of Al-Ahwaz that has forced her to leave her homeland.

Mona, who devotes all of her time to the Ahwazi cause, has spoken about some of the atrocities perpetrated by the Persian occupation against her Arab compatriots, and in particular, against women, affirming the fact that due to decades of Iranian occupation, Ahwazi Arab women have been subjected to human rights violations such as being deprived of their inalienable right to education in Arabic, their native language.

Al-Sharq: How do Ahwazi women consider the Persian occupation of their homeland Ahwaz?

MO: First I would like to express my gratitude to the venerable Al-Sharq newspaper for allowing me this opportunity to talk about Al-Ahwaz case.

Also, let me take this opportunity to extend my appreciation to the Saudi people, brothers, and all observers, and to all those interested in news and developments in the matter of Al-Ahwaz.  To answer your question, Ahwazi women, as an integral part of their society, believe that the occupation has to be overthrown, even militarily, if necessary, and the area returned to Ahwazi Arab rule.

The occupation is entirely illegal, and there is no doubt that sooner or later it is bound to disappear. The occupation is the root cause of my people’s suffering, and Ahwazi women endure additional repression and exclusion, such as losing their right to live in dignity in their homeland.

In fact, since the start of Iranian occupation and domination of Al-Ahwaz, the ultra-national Persian institutions have systematically implemented policies of racial discrimination against the entire Ahwazi population, and in particular, of Ahwazi women, who have been excluded from all rights and privileges including educational opportunities, employment, intellectual, literary and artistic participation, as well as the denial of exercising their indigenous cultural activities.

Mona continued, saying that crimes of the occupation are incalculable, but the worst crime committed against the majority of Ahwazi women is through the policy of ethnic cleansing practiced in the cruelest manner, by preventing women of childbearing age to bring about demographic change in the areas of Al-Ahwaz.

The occupation authorities are forcing Ahwazi women to give birth through “Caesarean” procedure rather than natural birthing, and in many cases the authorities urge the doctors to carry out sterilization on birthing women without their knowledge or prior approval, through the process of tying the fallopian tubes.  This results in Ahwazi women no longer being able to have more than one child, and thus, it reduces population growth among the Arabs.

She pointed out the suffering of the Ahwazi women as a consequence of the apartheid policies of Iranian occupation.  Women are subjected to arbitrary arrest, imprisonment, physical harassment, psychological and physical torture as well as the death penalty like all Ahwazi activists.  The Arab and international stance regarding our plight is still weak, and our cause must be activated and placed on the table of international forums.

Al-Sharq: What else do the Ahwazi women suffer because of the occupation?  

MO:  If we want to describe and analyze the nature of oppression and suffering of Ahwazi women under the grip of Iranian Occupation, then it would require us to write books about it.

This is because of a racist, anti-Arab mentality and ideology of the Iranian occupation against Arab people generally, and particularly against Ahwazis.   As a matter of fact, the intensity of the regime’s racial oppression and segregation falls primarily on the Ahwazis in comparison to other ethnic and indigenous peoples in Iran, which is reflected in all aspects of their social, economic, and political lives and many other areas.

In this case, because the Iranian occupation harbors hatred towards Arabs, the Ahwazi women suffer and endure the most vicious types of harassment, arrest, imprisonment, physical and psychological torture because of three major factors, the first one is their female gender and, the second is their Arab ethnicity and the third is because they are Ahwazi women freedom fighters.

Ahwazi women, as Ahwazi men, face the death penalty because of their struggle against the Iranian occupation, and while sometimes the Ahwazi woman activist has undergone such heavy and cruel punishment, the most prominent Ahwazi woman imprisoned in an Iranian jail is Ms. Faheme Esmaili Badawi. She is an elementary school teacher and political activist who was arrested in 2005 and is currently serving 15 year’s imprisonment in exile from her homeland.

In December 2006, the Iranian occupation regime executed her husband Ali Matouri Zadeh, the Ahwazi activist and founding member of the moderate Hizbal-Wifaq (Reconciliation Party).

The suffering of Faheme Esmaili Badawi cannot be easily summarized through her arrest and the injustice of her husband’s execution, during imprisonment she was forced to give birth to her daughter Salma without receiving adequate medical assistance and in the most unsanitary conditions.  Her daughter Salma is now seven years old, and she lives without her mother and her father, who was unjustly hanged by the regime.

faheme

Al-Sharq: What is your view of the stance of Arabs and Muslims toward your issue?

MO:  Honestly, the position of the Arab and Islamic countries toward the issue of Ahwaz is very weak and timid.  It cannot in anyway be considered a significant stance, neither can it be called advocacy or support for it. So far, however, hopeful and positive indicators have recently occurred in one or two of the Arab Gulf countries.  However, we can say that there is no Arab state with a clear and explicit stand in support for the Ahwazi issue. In reality, the promises made regarding supporting Ahwazi people were only words spoken, no actions have been taken.  There are Arab countries allied with Iran, and these countries, especially the Syrian regime, have handed over political Ahwazi activists to Iran to be sentenced to death and executed.

As for the European position, through the work of human rights and civic organizations, it has resulted in the right of assembly and demonstration for Ahwazi communities in European countries. European governments have met with Ahwazi organizations in order to learn about and understand their cause.

Al-Sharq: What is the stance of the United Nations and international organizations toward the plight of the Ahwazi people?

MO:  All that the United Nations and human rights organizations have done is to condemn and denounce the crimes committed by the Iranian occupation authorities in Al-Ahwaz, despite the fact that the Iranian crimes against Ahwazis have reached the level of ethnic cleansing and genocide.  The international community has to do its duty to prosecute those responsible for these heinous crimes.

The secret letter leaked from the office of “Abtahi” during the tenure of the President Mohammad Khatami clearly indicated a policy of ethnic cleansing, a policy that is still ongoing and expanding.  The letter stipulates orders and certain conditions for conducting systematic ethnic cleansing of Ahwazis within 10 years, such as the banishment of influential and educated Ahwazis such as teachers, university professors and governmental employers to remote Persian areas. This is facilitated through different enticements, particularly by making them promises of providing better living conditions, promotions and increased salaries and then replacing them with Persian settlers who implement the orders of the occupation government in Al-Ahwaz.

Al-Sharq: How do you see the future of the Al-Ahwaz cause and Middle East?

MO:  I think that all Ahwazi activists believe that the demise of the occupation and the establishment of the state of Ahwaz is a fact that will come into being and what separates us from our goal is just a matter of time and the need to improve Ahwazi capabilities and facilities that will ensure the development of tools for the Ahwazi struggle to defeat the Persian occupation.  Ahwazis fully believe in the future of their cause and work on this basis.

We know the rule says that the revolutionary struggle for liberation from the clutches of colonialism and oppression requires manpower, in fact, we have the manpower that is willing to sacrifice in order to regain the legitimate rights of Al-Ahwaz.

But, we also need foreign support and backing at all levels for our struggle against the Iranian occupation. We need the international human rights and law agencies to decry the human rights abuses practiced against Ahwazi Arab people.

Additionally as Al-Ahwaz has been occupied military and the enemy only understands force,  there has to be a regional strategy to supply us with arms and training, as well as the implementation and full force of international law, to recognize us as an occupied and oppressed people.  It is the responsibility of the global media and regional media to expose our suffering to the world.

Lack of attention to our just cause is only in the interest of the Iranian occupation to perpetuate its illegal existence and crimes and expansionist aspirations which know no boundaries not only in Al-Ahwaz but all the neighboring Arab countries, as today it is more evident than any other time, when we see Iran’s occupation of Syria, Iraq, Yemen destroying our people’s revolutions through their mercenaries.  The only tool that can foil the regime’s devastating colonial advancement in the region is by supporting Ahwazis and other non-Persian ethnic groups such as Turks, Kurds and Baluchs in Iran.

In my point of view, this is the only way we can trample the regime, because as long as the regime exists and there is the absence of a comprehensive national Arabic project to deal with Iran, nowhere in the Middle East will there be peace and stability. Thus, the absence of the Ahwazi cause in the international and regional arena only serves the regime, as the Iranian regime’s major strength has originated from its domination of Al-Ahwaz’s sea oil and gas, albeit, the Ahwazi indigenous people have gained nothing from their vast resources, which have become a curse against them solely.

We ask the international community to support our cause in accordance with the norms and the international conventions because we are a suffering and oppressed people undergoing countless policies of racial discrimination.

The Iranian regime is attempting to melt us down in the crucible of Persian culture, eliminating our Arabic origins. As earlier mentioned, the regime has exercised such brutal racial discrimination policies that have amounted to ethnic cleansing through forcible displacement, reverse migration, and settlement construction for installing Persian settlers in Al-Ahwaz in order to impose a new demographic reality on us and the future of Al-Ahwaz.

The brutal oppression of the indigenous Ahwazi Arab people encompasses political, economic, social and cultural measures  has been going on for years, and the sheer injustice imposed on my Arab people has gone unreported for decades, never getting the attention that it deserves.  Our cause has been sanctioned due to regional plots related to bilateral economic and political interests.

The most unfair tool that is still used against our plight is the Media Blackout made of the spilled blood of my people who have dared to speak out against the Iranian occupation. Is their blood so cheap, without global condemnation?

The truth is that Ahwazis are sieged and restricted and unable to convey their voices out because the internal media is controlled by the regime and even the outside Persian opponent the media are bribed and supportive of the regime’s crimes against us and deliberately hide our news and events taking place on the ground, as such biased media stigmatizes Ahwazi Arab fighters by describing them as foreign stooges  scheming with Britain and Saudi Arabia who want to break up the country and bring corruption, terrorism and Wahhabism.

Likewise, the occupying judicial system presses the same charges against the Ahwazi prisoners and simply executes them.  This is because the racism and the anti-Arab sentiment has taken deep root into the minds of the entire Farsi-speaking community.  Furthermore, Arab and Western media also have not really put a spotlight on our issue because of the aforesaid reasons, turning our issue into a regional and global orphan.

The outcry of Ahwazi prisoners remains unheard behind bars, so our most basic and smallest demand is to receive help and solidarity from Media outlets to break the Iranian occupation blackout, to make known the reality of the Ahwazis and other ethnic groups, where our most basic conditions are so low in the framework of Iran’s petrified ideology.

We need the world to hear our voice and stand by our side against the Persianization policies and genocide campaign that look like a fatal cancer metastasizing to the whole Ahwazi Arab society as an attempt to erase the Arabic identity of Ahwazis.  For instance, as I mentioned earlier, this vicious occupation policy, through denying our native Arabic language, has caused the Ahwazi people to be stammering and uneducated in our own tongue, not able to speak Arabic or write in it.

My people have had enough of torture, prison, execution, poverty and illiteracy. We have had enough of the grief of mothers whose loved ones are executed or imprisoned for years. Let’s stop here because I am speechless. I have run out of words. I cannot depict the gravity of the nameless crimes exercised by the Iranian occupying authorities in Al-Ahwaz. I just look forward to seeing a better future for my Ahwazi oppressed people as they are free of any chains of oppression and living in safety and dignity.


Main Source: Al-Sharq newspaper  

Translated by Rahim Hamid

medico_1219482A word from Rosamaria Vitale, 55, the surgeon who was supposed, until the last moment, to take part in the mission in Syria with the two recently freed Italian girls. She had met the girls in Milan, in the reception center of via Novara, run by the cooperative “Farsi Prossimo” of the Caritas Ambrosiana.

Written by Stefano Pasta, translated by Samantha Falciatori 

These are days of controversy and speculation about the reasons why Vanessa and Greta went to Syria. We talk about it with Rosamaria Vitale, 55, the surgeon who was supposed, until the last moment, to go with them on the same mission to Syria. In the same spirit, and always willingly and unpaid, she worked on the Mare Nostrum ships, in Kenya with the Camilliani Fathers (she has been going there for ten years) and other places of suffering in the world. During the months when she is at home, in Milan, she is one of the many citizens who, in different ways, helps the Syrian and Eritrean refugees (at least 70,000) reach Milan in their journey to Northern Europe. It is here, in the Central Station and in the reception centers activated by the Municipality, that she met the two girls.

Where did you meet them?

In Milan, in the reception center of via Novara, which is run by the cooperative “Farsi Prossimo” (Caritas Ambrosiana). It was October 2013. The Municipality had just decided to accept refugees in transit for a few days and, as it is now, it was cooperating with a very heterogeneous group of Milanese, some belonging to associations, but above all, individuals motivated by solidarity for what these families have suffered. Sometimes it would happen that you would see Syrian children with wounds from firearms. Until last June, “Medici volontari italiani” (“Volunteer Italian Medics”), the association to which I belong, was in charge of the first aid intervention of what was a sort of small refugee camp. Greta and Vanessa, who spoke perfect Arabic [translator’s note, according to the interviewee], helped me with the translation, but they were devoted mainly to entertaining the children, and organizing games and activities. These volunteer “activists” also had other tasks: to welcome the refugees who arrived from Southern Italy to the Central Station, to accompany them to the reception centers, and to help them with train tickets. Then when there was no more room in the reception centers, we turned to private homes (I myself have hosted several Syrians). Now at the Station there is a valuable group of volunteers, but the management of the incoming refugees in the centers is now handled by the Municipality.

What struck you about the two girls?

Their effort, shared also by many activists of all ages: almost daily and always withoutgetting a cent, they came and went from their cities to Milan. Sometimes we left the center together and I gave them a ride to the underground stop next to my house. It was an opportunity to share thoughts about the suffering we had seen during the day. It often happened that the patients let us see the photos of their lives in Syria, some which had fought against the Assad regime. It was clear to us who the weak were: on one side there was Assad who destroyed his people, and on the other side, there was a people of survivors who fled in search of a new life.

Then came the proposal of the trip to Syria…

Greta phoned me asking if I wanted to go to Syria for 5-6 days in the rural area of Idlib, that both girls had already visited in a previous mission. They knew that I already had experience in many countries at war. I immediately said yes, confirming I would willingly collaborate with them. At that time, in the Syrian areas controlled by the rebels,  virtually none of the biggest organizations operated anymore. Only small groups, often self-organized, did it, with a few day-long missions during which they delivered medicines and aid in kind.

slide_396732_4873160_freeWhat was the project of Vanessa and Greta about?

I still have the April email in which they sent me the project. It was a well done project, with objectives developed after careful analysis of the needs of the territory. In the roughly twenty villages in the area, medical facilities had been bombed and there were no doctors (they had fled or had been killed). All the medical assistance was handled by only one veterinarian. In the first mission, Greta and Vanessa had identified the deficits, setting two goals for the next missions. First: to activate a first aid course providing the necessary materials. Second: to ensure the sick of chronic diseases (for example diabetes) access to the right therapies. As far as the first is concerned, we are talking about gauzes, disinfectants, pills, therefore, materials that each family had to keep at home; Greta, a Nursing Sciences student, had all the necessary skills.

But then you did not leave with them…

No, I could not join their second mission due to problems that arose at the last moment. I also couldn’t attend the third, the one in July, because I was called to serve on the Navy ships, in the Mare Nostrum Operation. When I learned about their kidnapping, I was already in Kenya. Before both missions, I had helped them choose and collect the medicines to bring to Syria. During the missions, they used to write me via email and Facebook to ask my opinion by sending me photos of the patients they met.

Were they naïve and inexperienced?

No. For Greta and Vanessa their life was a mission, nothing else. There are people who give top priority to the good of others, even at the cost of their own life.

Original: http://m.famigliacristiana.it/articolo/vanessa.htm

20.000 - 30.000 civils sont toujours pris au piège à l'intérieur du camp.   #SaveYarmoukCamp  Les souffrances continuent sans répit dans le camp de réfugiés de Yarmouk.

20.000 – 30.000 civils sont toujours pris au piège à l’intérieur du camp.
#SaveYarmoukCamp
Les souffrances continuent sans répit dans le camp de réfugiés de Yarmouk.

Wesam est un jeune palestinien qui milite au sein de “JAFRA”, une organisation communautaire qui aide la population de Yarmouk, en Syrie. Il a très gentillement accepté de répondre à nos questions, pour le public italien, mais pas seulement celui destiné à la Péninsule, puisqu’aussi bien Wesam aurait pu s’exprimer en anglais si son interviewer n’avait pas été arabophone. Cet entretien est la traduction anglaise de la version italienne tirée de l’arabe d’origine. (Interview & traduction italienne de Fouad Rouieha, traduction anglaise de Mary Rizzo, traduction française de Eric Lamy). 

Commençons par décrire Yarmouk.

Le camp de réfugiés de Yarmouk est situé au sud de Damas. Il s’étend sur plus de sept kilomètres carrés, juste à côté des districts du centre, tel celui de Midan Zahir. Pour faire court, le camp fait partie du tissu urbain de Damas. Avant le début de la révolte, il comptait 700.000 âmes, dont 220.000 palestiniens d’origine, le reste étant des syriens. Le camp de Yarmouk fut établi en 1957 : la majorité des palestiniens qui y vivent sont des fils de réfugiés de 48, principalement originaires du nord de la Palestine auxquels s’ajoutèrent ceux qui vinrent de Jordanie en 67 et 70. Avant la révolution en Syrie, Yarmouk était une zone économique florissante, considérée comme la capitale de la diaspora palestinienne. Il s’y tenait un marché considérable, le commerce y prospérait. Une véritable ferveur pour les questions sociales et politiques y prévalait, sans oublier ce dynamisme culturel qui faisait de Yarmouk le centre culturel de Damas, le lieu où il se passait quelque chose, où des festivals étaient organisés. Un grand nombre d’artistes célèbres sont originaires de Yarmouk. Pareil à d’autres quartiers, mais plus particulièrement animé, les rues étaient peuplées de boutiques et de restaurants que fréquentaient tous les damascènes. Le weekend, ou pendant les congés, les rues étaient si populeuses qu’on avait du mal à y circuler ; c’était un quartier très peuplé mais également réputé pour la sécurité qu’il offrait.

Vous parlez de l’existence d’un activisme politique, mais être militant, en Syrie, était complètement tabou à cause de la surveillance policière et de la répression toujours possible. Était-ce différent pour les palestiniens ?

J’ai mentionné l’activisme politique en rapport avec la Cause Palestinienne, qui n’avait pas de lien avec la situation syrienne. Yarmouk était une des bases pour les factions palestiniennes : le Front Populaire, le Hamas, le Front Populaire-Commandement Général, le Jihad Islamique, le Fatah… l’activité politique autorisée impliquait le camp de Yarmouk et la Palestine, mais rien qui pût se rapporter directement à la Syrie. Les syriens vivant à l’extérieur du camp assistaient à nos discussions, mais tant qu’il n’était question que de Palestine, tant que la politique syrienne n’était pas évoquée, il n’y avait aucun problème.

Une rue de Yarmouk.

Une rue de Yarmouk.

Parlez-nous de la cohabitation entre syriens et palestiniens-syriens. Peut-on parler d’intégration réussie ou, au contraire, a-t-on assisté à la création d’une sorte de ghetto ?

Entre nous, personne ne faisait de différence. À Yarmouk, nous avons vécu ensemble pendant 50 à 60 ans. Les mariages mixtes sont monnaie courante et nous sommes tous mélangés. Il faut dire que parfois une même famille est partagée entre les deux nations (la Palestine du Nord et la Syrie méridionale n’étant pas séparées à l’époque qui a précédé l’exil palestinien ; des familles et des clans étaient établis de chaque côté de la frontière. Il n’y a pas de différence entre syriens, palestiniens, libanais et jordaniens car des relations d’amitié et de parenté ont toujours existé.

On dit qu’au début de la révolution les palestiniens-syriens du camp ont tenté de se démarquer du conflit.

Non, nous n’avons pas tenté de nous en affranchir : il y a eu un débat considérable pour déterminer si le camp devait s’investir dans la confrontation. Une partie d’entre nous pensait que les militants de Yarmouk qui voulaient se joindre à la révolution devaient s’engager en dehors du camp, sans l’impliquer. Nous savions que si Yarmouk était visé par des représailles, elles seraient extrêmement violentes : c’est malheureusement ce qui est arrivé. Ensuite, l’idée à circulé selon laquelle Yarmouk pourrait être un lieu de repli sûr pour les syriens déplacés, pour les blessés, afin de leur permettre d’accéder aux soins médicaux et au ravitaillement. Au cours des deux premières années, Yarmouk à rempli ce rôle. Quand les affrontements ont éclaté dans les zones de Al Hajar Aswad ou de Tadamon, Yarmouk était un centre de distribution de produits médicaux et d’entraide. Nous accueillions les réfugiés. Avant eux, nous avions déjà recueilli les réfugiés de Homs : il y avait là tant de familles ! Pour eux, nous avons ouverts des refuges, profitant des écoles de l’UNRWA (agence de Nations Unies pour les Réfugiés Palestiniens, n.d.l.t.) et de celles de l’état. C’était des refuges protégés pour ces gens où ils furent accueillis, nourris et logés. Lorsque le Commandement Général à incité certains d’entre nous à prendre les armes contre l’Armée Syrienne Libre, Yarmouk a été directement impliqué dans les combats : l’ASL est entrée dans le camp et il devint, comme les autres districts de Damas, la cible du régime syrien.

On nous a rapporté des abus commis par l’ASL…

Ceux qui sont entrés dans Yarmouk n’étaient pas tous de même obédience : il y avait là des tas de gens différents et, parmi eux, des criminels de droit commun déguisés en révolutionnaires, comme cette “Brigade des Fils du Golan” qui était, en fait, un gang de kidnappeurs et de voyous. Ils ont incendié des maisons et en ont pillé d’autres. Cela a duré 6 mois, puis l’ASL, constituée de palestiniens et de syriens, les à délogés du camp.

 Concernant la révolution syrienne, qu’elle est la position des factions palestiniennes à l’intérieur du camp ?

Elle est contradictoire : d’un côté, les partisans du FPLP-GC, du Fatah Al Intifada qui combattaient aux côtés des loyalistes. Les proches du Hamas ainsi que des groupes indépendants se battaient contre le régime. La division qui existe dans la population syrienne est la même qui affecte la société syro-palestinienne.

une victime de la famine.

Une victime de la famine.

Pouvez-vous chiffrer la population vivant à l’intérieur du camp ?

Nos données diffèrent de celles de l’UNRWA : nous sommes sur une base de 25 à 30.000 personnes, dont 5000 syriens, le reste des résidents étant palestiniens. Ceux qui sont restés n’ont nulle part où aller et il n’y a plus de place dans les refuges. Pauvres d’entre les pauvres, ces palestiniens et ces syriens n’ont pas d’argent pour louer une maison et ils n’ont pu trouver de place dans les dispensaires du camp. Certains d’entre eux ont pu, un temps, s’installer dans les différents jardins publics de Damas, mais ils en sont revenus. Il y a aussi ceux qui n’ont pu fuir de peur que leur fils soit enrôlé de force dans l’armée. Il y a là des gens qui n’ont pas de papiers, pas de carte d’identité et ne peuvent donc pas sortir du camp. Soyons un peu logiques : il y a 30.000 civils à Yarmouk. S’ils avaient vraiment été des combattants, Damas serait tombée en 2 jours ! Parmi les hommes en armes à l’intérieur du camp, on compte environ 1000 palestiniens et 500 syriens : voilà tous les combattants du camp. Ces palestiniens sont natifs de Yarmouk. Ils ont formé des comités de dėfense, pas seulement contre le régime mais pour des raisons de sécurité interne : les institutions ont volė en éclat, l’anarchie est partout. Il fallait protéger les résidents des voleurs, des kidnappeurs. Ces comités de défense remplissent, en fait, une fonction de police. Il leur arrive même de régler des problèmes familiaux.

Aujourd’hui, comment décririez-vous la situation humanitaire ?

Yarmouk vit sous siège partiel depuis décembre 2012. Cela signifie que les civils peuvent entrer et sortir avec ce qu’ils peuvent transporter. Bien sûr, les camions chargés de nourriture sont interdits. Depuis le début du siège, nous n’avons réussi qu’à faire entrer 4 camions, ce qui a entraîné l’arrestation de quelques volontaires et la mort de Khaled Bakrawi. En juin 2013, le siège à été complètement fermé : plus personne ne put entrer ou sortir, plus de nourriture, plus de produits médicaux, plus aucun bien de consommation ne furent autorisés à pénétrer à l’intérieur du camp. Au bout de 4 mois sont apparus des cas extrêmes de malnutrition et les gens ont commencé à mourir. À ce jour, nous avons répertorié 154 cas de décès dûs à la faim, sans parler des cas où la faim n’est qu’un facteur du de la mort. La nourriture continue de manquer ; il y a bien eu des tentatives diplomatiques ces deux derniers mois qui n’ont abouti qu’à la livraison de 12000 paniers-repas qui ne permettent chacun que d’assurer la subsistance d’une famille de 4 personnes pendant 10 jours. Quiconque en a reçu un n’a plus rien aujourd’hui. Plus tard, 5000 paniers contenant de la confiture, des dattes et un peu de pain furent distribués. Cette dernière livraison fut assurée par l’UNRWA, tandis que nous avons réussi à en distribuer entre 4 à 5000.

Des volontaires de JAFRA distribuent des sacs de nourriture.

Des volontaires de JAFRA distribuent des sacs de nourriture.

La situation médicale et sanitaire : il n’y avait qu’un seul hôpital en activité à Yarmouk, l’Hôpital de Palestine, qui a été fermé par suite du manque de carburant (“mazot”, une sorte de fioul utilisé pour les groupes électrogènes et les stérilisateurs, ndlt). Comme l’électricité a été coupée dans le camp il y a treize mois, l’hôpital ne peut plus compter que sur les générateurs. Il n’y a plus de produits médicaux dans le camp et le seul médecin présent à Yarmouk a été tué il y a 6 mois, comme il sortait de l’hôpital, au cours d’un bombardement. Le personnel médical ne se compose plus que d’infirmières ; leur travail est guidé par l’expérience, mais ils ne sont ni médecins, ni spécialistes. Le mois dernier, nous avons pu exfiltrer 400 cas graves hors du camp. Au cours de l’évacuation, certains ont pourtant été arrêtés par les forces de sécurité du régime. À ce jour, nous avons des cas de malades qui réclament leur évacuation, mais il est absolument impossible aux civils de quitter le camp.

Parlez-nous de la vie quotidienne d’un résident de Yarmouk. J’imagine qu’il est peu probable qu’il puisse y travailler ?

Il n’y a plus de travail à l’intérieur du camp. Les routes sont fermées : pas de déplacement, pas de commerce possible. Le problème majeur est le prix élevé de la nourriture, car la contrebande de denrées est apparue. Il y a un mois et demi, un kilo de riz coûtait environ 12.000 livres syriennes (LS), l’équivalent d’à peu près 70$. Le tarif a baissé légèrement le mois dernier, mais il faut se dire qu’il coûtait 1$ voici trois ans, qu’il coûte 1$ dans les zones qui entourent le camp, soit soixante-dix fois moins ! Un litre de fioul pour groupe électrogène revient à environ 600/700 LS et coûte seulement 100 LS dans Damas. De toutes façons, il n’en reste presque plus à l’intérieur du camp. Certaines ONG – dont notre Fondation JAFRA – ont mis en place des projets agricoles d’auto-suffisance à l’intérieur du camp. Cela n’a pas trop bien marché l’hiver dernier à causes du temps, mais cela va beaucoup mieux. Il y a ceux qui ramassent de l’herbe dans les prés, et nous avons recensé 5 morts dûs aux snipers du régime qui surveillent ces prés. Les autres se contentent d’exister à l’intérieur de Yarmouk, fouillent les maisons abandonnées à la recherche de nourriture, une poignée de riz ou de farine, quelques épices, n’importe quoi qui puisse se manger. Voilà comment vivent ces gens…

Au cours des mois écoulés, lors de tentatives d’introduire des convois d’aide humanitaire, des attaques ont eu lieu : le régime en a rejeté la responsabilité sur les rebelles.

Il ne s’agissait pas d’attaques directes, bien qu’il y ait eu des tirs dont nous n’avons pas pu établir l’origine. Les deux parties s’accusent mutuellement. La milice accuse le Commandement Général, et celui-ci dénonce les islamistes armés. En réalité, des tirs de la milice ont empêché la distribution mais, franchement, je ne pense pas que l’intention était délibérée. Ils souffrent du siège comme les autres et sont logés à la même enseigne. Je crois plutôt qu’au cours d’un engagement avec les forces loyalistes les convois ont été pris entre deux feux.

 Pour finir, avez-vous un message à faire passer à la société italienne ?

Il y a à peu près 30.000 personnes dans le camp de Yarmouk, dont 1200 enfants. Beaucoup sont nés pendant le siège. J’y étais il y a trois mois : ces enfants ne savent plus le goût de la nourriture. L’un d’entre eux rêve de déguster une simple pomme de terre, de manger quelque chose de bon, quelque chose de sucré. Des personnes âgées ont besoin de remèdes pour leur tension artérielle, leurs problèmes cardiaques, leur diabète, tous les traitements simples et basiques dont le manque total cause leur décès. Les blessés sont contraints à l’amputation par faute de simple traitement. Pas de médicament, pas de médecin ! Nous avons besoin de vaccins pour nos enfants. Les problèmes sont immenses : ils n’ont plus la moindre idée de ce qu’est une vie normale et n’imaginent même plus comment est-ce en dehors du camp. Quelle faute ont donc commis ces enfants et ces civils pour souffrir autant ? Ce qui se passe à Yarmouk est contraire à tout principe d’humanité, contraire à toute notion de patrie, contraire à toute idée de panarabisme, toutes choses pour lesquelles le régime syrien se targue d’être en première ligne !

English: http://radiofreesyria1.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/extreme-suffering-in-yarmouk-camp-interview-with-wesam-sabaaneh/

a letter written by the detained Syrians in Egypt

a letter written by the detained Syrians in Egypt

Stopped in the middle of the sea by the Egyptian Coast Guard, aboard a boat that was sinking shortly after the start of its journey to Europe. Locked within the premises of a police station in Alexandria, where the police prevent the arrival of relief supplies of Caritas

WRITTEN by STEFANO PASTA, translated by Mary Rizzo

MILAN- Through WhatsApp, we interviewed Syrian refugees held since 14 April in Al Rashid police station in Alexandria, Egypt. Having failed to reach Europe with a barge, they were handed over to the Egyptian authorities, but now risk transfer to the prison of Al Burj , or – even worse – repatriation to Syria.

What is your situation like today?

Disastrous hygienic conditions are dangerous due to a broken sewer. We are 144 persons living in two rooms measuring only a few meters, one room for women and one for men. We sleep on the ground and we cannot wash. We try to keep calm, but when it happened a few days ago there were moments of tension between us, the police prevented the visits for that day and suspended the coffee and the food brought from outside by Caritas Alexandria. The boys and men are still able to resist in some way, but the women and children are really at the limit; there are two women with heart problems who finished their medicine and they need to get out immediately.

What is the situation of children?

There are 44 children under the age of 12, while the total number of children is 63. There are a few who are trying to play with water bottles and they are the only ones who can get distracted for a moment. At night, however, they find it difficult to sleep. As of yesterday, almost all of them have developed a sort of skin disease that no one can identify. Two children of one and two and a half years, alone with his mother because his father was killed in Syria, were suffering particularly yesterday , they were taken to the hospital five times because they suffer from asthma and staying in this place of detention is equivalent to sleeping in a garbage dump. We are also concerned about another 4 year old girl, suffering from cardiac difficulties, who had begun to complain about the chest pain already in the midst of the sea.

Why did you flee from Syria?

Many of us have fled to avoid conscription in the army of Assad, others are activists against the regime who are risking their lives. Then there are families who have fled their homes because they could not survive in some cities, people are dying of hunger because of the siege of the regular army (regime army), which does not allow the entry of food. There is no bread and milk for the children, while the rice when one can find it, costs almost twenty dollars a kilo. Life like that is simply impossible, that’s why we escaped.

Have you talked with a lawyer or with international authorities?

No, none of us was able to speak with a lawyer or has received a sheet with the written reasons for why we are being detained. We met a lawyer named Ahmad, who initially presented himself as belonging to UNHCR, but then he began to terrorise us by threatening to have us repatriated and he revealed that he works for Egyptian National Security.  This is our greatest fear, because it would be tantamount to a death sentence; also return to Lebanon would be very dangerous, since it has already happened that Hezbollah has handed over some refuges to Assad. After a week from the meeting with Ahmad, presented to us is a UN official, at least this is what he is telling us, along with an interpreter, in which we explained how we ended up in the police station.

How did it happen?

What happened before our arrest was a nightmare. We were ready to face the Mediterranean to reach Europe and we had entrusted ourselves to smugglers, who treated us badly, screaming profanities and threatening to beat us with bars, even children. With small boats, we were taken in groups on a larger boat, where we were parked at sea for seven days waiting for it to fill up to 250 people. When we were ready to leave, the same smugglers noticed that the boat was about to sink. It was the worst time since we left Syria: we could die and nobody would know. Then, after a fight broke out between the smugglers on the boat and the organisers were on the ground, we were able to convince them to bring us back; we passed the Coast Guard, but no one saw us. Once on the beach, we ourselves went to the Egyptian authorities, asking for help, but since that day, April 14, we were all arrested, including children.

Have you heard of other refugees detained in Egypt?

Of course, we have detailed information because they are members of our own families. The wife of a man who is here at Al Rashid is held in another place, then we know where the traveling companions arrested with us are. In the police station in Al Montazah there are 22 people, 55 in Chabrakhit and an unknown number – but with so many children – in Miami.

What are you asking for?

We call for the respect of Article 33 of the Geneva Convention, which prohibits any member country the repatriation (refoulement ) of persons to countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened . We ask UNHCR and the European embassies (we initiated contact with the Austrian one) to be able to apply for asylum. We ask the Europeans: would you like your children to have the Mediterranean as their graves? Open a humanitarian corridor, let us save our lives legally.

thank you to Nawal 

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

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.

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

Soubhi Dachan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so began the revolt.

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

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

Map by Limes Rivista Geopolitica

Is it a civil war fueled by sectarianism?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Salah Methnany

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who are the Muslim Brotherhood?

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

Free Syrian Army in Azzaz

Who is the Free Syrian Army?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Devotion to Assad

Has Assad got support in Syria?

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

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

You as insurgents abroad, why you oppose the regime?

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

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

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

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

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

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

By whom do you feel represented?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WRITTEN BY ANGELA ZURZOLO, translated by Mary Rizzo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original:  http://www.ilmediterraneo.it/it/interviste/7570

Dr. Mohamed Nour Dachan

Interview with Doctor Mohamed Nour Dachan, Italian delegate of the Syrian Coalition of Support to the Syrian Revolution

 by Giovanni Sarubbi, translated by Mary Rizzo

Doctor Mohamed Nour Dachan is the Italian delegate of the Syrian Coalition of Support to the Syrian Revolution. Born in Aleppo, Syria 65 years ago, he has been living in Italy for 45 years. Doctor of Medicine and Surgery, he has various specialisations and works as a family doctor. Currently he is the President Emeritus of the Union of Islamic Communities of Italy (UCOII) of which he is among the founders, and of which he was the acting President until two years ago. Recently he participated in the meeting of the Syrian National Council with the Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Giulio Maria Terzi di Sant’Agata. The Syrian National Council has promoted a national protest in Rome to be held on the date of 19 February, which has as its slogan “Let us stop the massacre of the innocents”. He has accepted to answer our questions regarding the Syrian situation, and for this, we are grateful. In his words, one can feel the suffering of who, still very young, was forced to leave his own country, bringing him to firmly oppose the Assad government. But, and this should be stressed, it is also an appeal to not leave anything untried for a peaceful solution, without arms or war, to the Syrian crisis. It is a hypothesis on which he works intensively. Following is the text of the interview.

Giovanni Sarubbi (GS): Doctor Dachan, you have been living for many years in Italy, and you have become a member of the Syrian National Council. Can you kindly explain to us the reasons for your choice and describe what forces comprise such Council?

Dr. Mohamed Nour Dachan (MND): To become a member of the SNC is not a novelty for me, seeing that for many years I have chosen freedom and democracy and that during these years I have fought against dictatorships and injustice and for this reason, I could not hesitate to give my contribution to my country of origin.

The SNC joins together very many components of the Syrian opposition, an opposition that has a wide variety of elements, given that there has been over 40 years of dictatorship which has slowly but surely allowed the birth of one opposition group after the other. The advantage of the SNC is that it has the largest opposition groups taking part in it: religious, secular and liberal ones.

GS: What do you propose to do, what is your programme and by the means of what initiatives and instruments do you plan on realising your goals?

MND: The programme is to support the peaceful revolution of the Syrian people, to work and raise awareness to all the world’s countries so that they help us to obtain the fall of the Syrian regime.

GS: What relationship do you have with the Free Syrian Army?

MND: There has to be some clarification regarding the name: it is called Free Syrian Army, which means that they are soldiers, officers and non-commissioned officers who have chosen to refuse shooting at unarmed civilians and it is not an offensive army that is at war, but it has exclusively the task of defending the protests.

It is constituted of a bilateral commission which has started its collaboration between the SNC and the Free Army.

GS: The Syrian National Council has been recognised at an international level by some countries such as France and the USA. What relationships have you got with these countries? Don’t you believe that this support could harm your cause and the liberation of your people from oppression?

MND: The SNC has not yet been recognised by any country, but there have been meetings with several countries, both Arab-Islamic and not. For the time being, the only country that has expelled the Syrian Ambassador has been Tunisia, and Libya is preparing to give the SNC official local offices, in addition to other countries such as Turkey where the SNC has its actual headquarters.

GS: You have recently had a meeting with the Foreign Affairs Minister of the Italian government. What have you asked of the Italian government and what response did you receive?

MND: We have already had a meeting with the previous government’s Foreign Affairs Minister Frattini, and successively with Minister Terzi: our first requests have been to obtain support for the Syrian revolution with all possible means and to remove the support and collaboration they have with the Syrian regime. The relationship has begun very well and we hope that the collaboration is continuous and fruitful.

GS: In your communiqué you have written that: “Today everyone is pointing their finger against Russia and China, but in reality, behind their positions are hidden other diplomatic entities who are complicit in this slaughter.” Who are you referring to? From your point of view, who are the forces in play in Syria and what are the objectives they have set for themselves?”

MND: We don’t have any particular nation in mind, but in the time that has passed, eleven months with massacres each and every day – (and this is only my personal point of view) much more could have been done and perhaps much more can be done, if the positions of China and Russia had been different.

The forces in play by the regime are the army and the forces of the security services. Certainly, the Assad family and those dependent upon it have a sole objective: to continue to rule.

GS: In point 28 of the Report of the International Observers in Syria it is written: “The Mission had made note that various parties reported that there had been explosions of violence in many areas. When the observers had gone to these areas, they found that this information was unfounded.” Just as in all wars, the first victim is the truth and correct information. What can you say, from your point of observation, on what is truly going on in Syria? Do you have direct sources of information on all the things that are taking place?

MND: The mission of the Observers in Syria was dead before it had a chance to be born. There were three objectives to that mission:

1. Withdrawal of all the military vehicles from the streets, an objective that was neither applied nor taken into consideration,

2. The liberation of all the prisoners of thought who have been arrested from the beginning of the revolution to this very date: of the 150,000 person arrested, the government has liberated only a few hundred, only to arrest others from other places,

3. The number of observers was supposed to be 5,000, and instead those who had actually arrived were only 150, some of whom could not even be able to observe a high school graduation test in any high school at all!

The Syrian government, with its excuse of protecting them, first sent in the police forces and then they themselves made these very observers be accompanied by the security forces, in this way, they ensured that the people were terrified and they did not speak with anyone.

Of course, we have direct sources, and we are able to communicate with them now in every way that is possible, including those that are widespread communication instruments: Facebook, emails, cell phones and so forth.

GS: What is your point of view on the various proposals of solution to the Syrian crisis that have been set forth by different international organisations?

MND: We are favourable to any proposal at all which is peaceful but protects civilians, and most importantly, immediately stops this barbarity.

GS: There are about ninety associations, unions and parties, among them FIOM-CGIL, which have taken the position against any hypothesis of a new war in Syria, similar to what has recently been fought in Libya. From your point of view, is a pacific solution possible for the Syrian crisis, without wars or the intervention of foreign powers in your country?

MND: I thank you for this question and allow me to express an appeal, because some forces and some friends with which we have already shared in some activities and sit ins, when faced with the massacres of the Syrian people, are not evaluating the human question, but the political question, as if we were in the Cold War. The revolution started with the actions of children, and still today, each day its characteristic feature is the peaceful protesting in the street and squares. To allow a dictator to keep on assassinating his own people or to join in a war as the one in Libya? Between the two things there are actually many solutions, and for this I invite all the free and democratic men and women to take the side of the people: one simply cannot say, “we are against the war” in words, and then support the government that is using its own army against defenceless people. We ask our brothers and sisters who are against the war to join us with other solutions, but with a sole objective: to immediately put an end to the massacres.

Thus ends the interview. Obviously, whoever is against the war in Syria does not support any regime or any assassin, whoever it is committing these acts, but believes that one must to all that is necessary to find peaceful solutions to the crisis.

By Giovanni Sarubbi – Director of the site www.ildialogo.org (Italian)

Original in Italian: http://www.ildialogo.org/cEv.php?f=http://www.ildialogo.org/noguerra/NotizieCommenti_1328690852.htm

image from the video released by the kidnappers

Sheikh Abu Musab: “Killing him was an error”

By Michele Giorgio
in Gaza City for il manifesto 15 June 2011 www.ilmanifesto.it
translated from Italian by Mary Rizzo

The kidnappers of Vittorio Arrigoni declare to be members of al Tawhid wal Jihad, a formation following al Qaeda that less than two years ago made itself known in Gaza, forming its own cells, often in competition if not actually in opposition to Hamas (accused of not applying “true Islam”). They affirm to have carried out the kidnapping of Vittorio in order to obtain the release of the Egyptian Sheikh al-Saidani, known also as Abu Walid al-Maqdisi, arrested a month before. Tawhid wal Jihad denied being involved in the kidnapping of the Italian activist, but in Gaza there is still talk circulating about the connections between this group and the kidnappers. Sheikh Abu Musab, one of the leaders of Tawhid wal Jihad, has accepted to answer the questions from il manifesto regarding the Arrigoni kidnapping. He welcomes us in a small house in the refugee camp of Jabaliya, in northern Gaza, armed with a machine gun and with his face partially covered by a keffiyah.

You deny to have played any role in the kidnapping and assassination of Vittorio Arrigoni, yet you are still being accused of that.

Someone wants to involve us at all costs in this affair, but Tawhid wal Jihad did not in any way plan or participate in the kidnapping of the Italian. Our denial was immediate, from the very start we made it clear that the kidnappers were not part of our Jihad project. Those young men used our name because it is known and they wanted to gain some attention.

Yet, the Jordanian, Abdel Rahman Breizat, the mind behind the kidnapping, was close to your organisation.

Yes, but only up to a certain point. Many of our combatants knew him. He was a religious young man who wanted to make Palestine the starting  place of a new rebirth of Islam, for the victory of the Jihad in dar al Islam. But he never was part of the structure of Tawhid wal Jihad, he was external to us and everything he did he organised together with his friends (those of the kidnapping of Vittorio, author’s note) and without our knowledge.

But you personally knew Breizat?

Certainly, because as soon as he arrived in Gaza (at the start of 2010, author’s note) he immediately made contact with the salafiyya (the al Qaeda cell of Gaza that follows Salafist thought, author’s note). I remember that I spoke with him more than once, of the greatness of the prophet (Mohammed, author’s note) and of the duties of Muslims. He dwelled very much on the lack of respect by the Islamic peoples of the precepts of the Qur’an and of the teachings of the prophet. The indifference of many Muslims towards religion irritated him.

But what did Vittorio Arrigoni have to do with any of that? He was not a Muslim…

I think that the kidnapping of the Italian was used by Breizat and his comrades in order to affirm the existence of his cell, of his group. In exchange for his liberation he asked for the release of Sheikh al Saidani, unjustly arrested only for having spoken in the name of Islam. Breizat set up a spectacular operation to get some attention for himself.

You mention the liberation and prisoner exchange, but Vittorio was killed immediately, the killers themselves hadn’t respected their own ultimatum.

Because Breizat and his comrades organised something they were unable to manage. They felt strong pressure straight away, they felt entrapped and they killed the hostage.

But knowledge of the kidnapping that took place on the 13th of April was only made public just before sundown on the 14th and the Hamas police intervened when everything fell into darkness. According to one theory, Vittorio Arrigoni could have been killed in the early afternoon, perhaps in the video that the kidnappers sent out, he was already dead or in coma.

Pressure is not only that of the police and the investigations, but also that of lack of preparation, lack of mental and military organisation. It is complex to manage a kidnapping and only a group that has determination and is well-structured can carry out something of the sort. Breizat and his comrades perhaps were overcome by confusion.

And what do you say of the rumours of a hidden management, seemingly from the Sinai, of the kidnapping of Arrigoni?

I know nothing about that, but I can’t exclude that Breizat had someone behind him, someone who convinced him to act and strike that Italian. Perhaps behind it all is the Mossad (Israeli secret services). With certainly I can only say that Tawhid wal Jihad did not kidnap Vittorio Arrigoni.

You knew Arrigoni, were you aware of his presence and his activities in Gaza?

I once saw him in an ambulance in the north of Gaza during the Zionist aggression (the Israeli offensive “Operation Cast Lead”, December 2008-January 2009). Sometimes people talked about him. For me, he was a friend of the Palestinians and not an enemy of Islam. His assassination was a crime. We do not oppose the presence of Westerners in Gaza, if they come to help the Palestinians and Muslims, they must not be harmed. Our religion protects them.

See also: https://wewritewhatwelike.com/2011/06/15/hamas-the-report-with-the-truth-on-vik%e2%80%99s-homicide-at-the-end-of-june/

Gaza is full of stories of brave women, under the Israeli caused rubble there are many stories of women with hopes and great expectations, pioneers in every field.

Being a Palestinian journalist in exile, there was no other way to interview my people and interact with my colleagues in Palestine but through the internet. I have started a feature by interviewing the Palestinian journalist Nelly Ismail Yassin Almasry through the net because Israel’s enforced laws made it difficult for us to meet in person. Our discussions took longer than expected because electricity blackouts happened many times in Gaza where she lives and the internet connection died with it, but I was determined to write about the other side of Gaza, the side that keeps rising from under the ashes like a bird with a thousand wings because its people refuse to surrender to defeat. Nelly is the daughter of Ismail Almasry, the Football Coach of the National Football Team in Gaza and a colleague working as a sport journalist and a member of the first women’s soccer team in Gaza.

The first Palestinian all women’s football team was established in 2003. Even though they had very limited resources, the women kept practicing and playing against other Arab women’s leagues whenever they were allowed to leave Gaza. The Gaza women’s soccer team suffered many difficulties and faced many obstacles because of the limited resources, the absence of properly built stadiums, the absence of security and the continuous closures of checkpoints by the Israeli occupation forces thus hindering them from practicing or travelling to play against other teams, even though the team wanted badly to represent Palestine on an international, level they were deprived of this dream as they were of many other dreams.

The sport movement started to come back to life in 1994, supported by the Palestinian National Authority. Some attention has been directed to develop sport facilities like maintaining sport stadiums. One of such efforts was building a stadium in the city of Jericho, which has encouraged some athletes to set up a female football team for the first time in Palestinian history, but the idea did not receive adequate attention or support because it was novel. Unfortunately that lack of interest eventually lead to freezing the idea for a while.

But again the Arab and International Federation of Football requested activating the Arab women’s football teams in their countries, and encouraged it by allocating 10% of its financial support to the union to support the Palestinian women’s football teams.

The Palestinian union adopted the idea of forming a female soccer team, and assigned this task to Mrs Haniya Albish. This decision was formally adopted by the International Football Federation who sent Mrs Haniya Albish in 2003 to attend a symposium on women’s football in the framework of the World Cup for women in America, thus starting the nucleus of the team at Bethlehem under supervision of Mrs Samar Ala’araj who was in charge of coordinating sports activities at Bethlehem University.

At the same time, Mr Hussein Shakhtour was forming another team in the Directorate of Youth and Sports, the two teams were merged into one sponsored team, supervised and trained by Bethlehem University according to their best of abilities considering the general situation in Palestine.

Then Mrs Haneyeh Albish, a member of the Palestinian union team of soccer, head of women’s football union, along with Mr. Adnan Abu Zayed attended the symposium of women’s football in “West Asia” organized by the International Federation of Football “FIFA” in March 2006 to develop the game in Palestine.

Playing abroad
The Palestinian women’s football team participated for the first time ever in a tournament held in Jordan 2004 along with 10 other Arab women’s teams; the event was organized by the Jordanian Orthodox club. The Palestinian team was formed from a number of players from the teams of Ramallah, the Evangelical Friends, Gaza, and Saryeat Ramallah group. The created team participated again in another event held in April 2005 in Jordan organized by Amman Club playing along other 10 Arab women’s teams.

 

The following participation was in the West Asia Championship for Women’s Football in Jordan held from 23 of September to the 1st of October 2005, during which the Palestinian team played against Jordan, Syria, Iran and Bahrain.

Then the Gaza team participated in the Arab Championship for women’s soccer in Alexandria, Egypt from 14-28 April 2006, playing against Syria, Tunisia and Egypt. Unfortunately all forms of sports in Gaza now are totally paralyzed.

Nelly grew up in a family of sportsmen who understood her passion for sport, her father was the coach of a team, and her brothers were football players who understood that football is just one of her choices.

Before getting involved in sport journalism Nelly played volleyball at AlAhli Palestinian club in Gaza. In 1996 and while she was still a university student, she joined the first football team for women in Gaza. Some families looked with suspicion at women playing football, but Nelly had no problem with that since she was brought up in a family involved with this sport, she was encouraged by her parents, besides the fact that three of her sisters joined the team as well. Her father was always keen to follow his daughter’s progress and used to go to the club to watch them training. They practiced 3 times every week for 18 months.

Nelly’s beginning with sports media goes back to the end of 2001 when she was a trainee at the Voice of Freedom Radio in Gaza, she progressed in her job to become a broadcaster of sports programs, during the same period she joined another media establishment as a supervisor of its website, but her post did not last long for economic reasons leading to the closure of the website.

Nelly confessed, ‘I have started to write sports reports in 2002 but I started playing football earlier, during 1996. Football is considered by many in Gaza as an unusual field for women, but strangely enough, most of the members of the Gaza women’s soccer team came from conservative Palestinian families, the majority of the members lived in the refugee camps, but still they have proved that they are able to commit themselves to this sport in a way that changed the society’s perception of women football players, and accept the idea to a point that the players started to receive support from the International Federation and the Arab federation, besides the FIFA and other unions.

Nelly is not involved in kicking the ball only, but she is a keen football fan as well, she talked to me about watching most matches played around the world and her support for some Arab leagues like the Saudi Arabian team Alhilal Club. She told me that and among her favourite players is Yasser Kahtani the best Arab player during the Asia championships 2007; she is also a fan of Nawwaf Altimyat, and Mohammad Shalhoob.

Many people were enraged that one Israeli player was denied a visa to Dubai to the tennis tournament held lately, claiming sport should be independent of politics, but it seems not many understood how important it is to boycott Israel’s sport to make a point, Israel bombed the Palestinian playing courts, banned Palestinian players from travel or participation, imprisoned and detained Palestinian players, attacked many of them, and these facts can be brought up and made known should Israel be boycotted. Israel’s policies are aimed at killing any hope of Palestinians participating in any sport where they can represent their country on international level.

Nelly finished her comment by saying ‘unfortunately there has been always a negative attitude towards women’s journalistic work in general, let alone working in the sports field where the journalist has to shuttle between clubs and matches. Some Gaza communities were not in favour of women practicing this sport or working in its media field, but we never gave up. All I hope for now is some peace, and to see that our stadiums will be rebuilt again after everything has been destroyed in Gaza by Israel’s attacks…the ball now is in the International court.  

News has come out, which normal people with eyes have seen anyway, that some IDF soldiers have admitted that killing civilians was routine and they knew it. Haaretz has started a series of the accounts, but I urge you to visit Richard Silverstein’s blog, where he translates the bits the English Edition didn’t really want others to see, the worst parts, obviously… and they are revolting.

Yet, for the moment, I’m not going to address this issue. I’ll wait until the MFA lie factory comes out with their excuses. In the meantime, I present another side to the fun and games that is life as an Israel soldier, and that is, the company unit t-shirts that they wear for bonding reasons. If anyone has any doubts about the Morals of this Moral Army, read this article from Haaretz written by Uri Blau. No Virgins No Terror Attacks shows the utter banality of evil.

‘No virgins, no terror attacks’
The office at the Adiv fabric-printing shop in south Tel Aviv handles a constant stream of customers, many of them soldiers in uniform, who come to order custom clothing featuring their unit’s insignia, usually accompanied by a slogan and drawing of their choosing. Elsewhere on the premises, the sketches are turned into plates used for imprinting the ordered items, mainly T-shirts and baseball caps, but also hoodies, fleece jackets and pants. A young Arab man from Jaffa supervises the workers who imprint the words and pictures, and afterward hands over the finished product.

Dead babies, mothers weeping on their children’s graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques – these are a few examples of the images Israel Defense Forces soldiers design these days to print on shirts they order to mark the end of training, or of field duty. The slogans accompanying the drawings are not exactly anemic either: A T-shirt for infantry snipers bears the inscription “Better use Durex,” next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him. A sharpshooter’s T-shirt from the Givati Brigade’s Shaked battalion shows a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull’s-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, “1 shot, 2 kills.” A “graduation” shirt for those who have completed another snipers course depicts a Palestinian baby, who grows into a combative boy and then an armed adult, with the inscription, “No matter how it begins, we’ll put an end to it.”

There are also plenty of shirts with blatant sexual messages. For example, the Lavi battalion produced a shirt featuring a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises, and the slogan, “Bet you got raped!” A few of the images underscore actions whose existence the army officially denies – such as “confirming the kill” (shooting a bullet into an enemy victim’s head from close range, to ensure he is dead), or harming religious sites, or female or child non-combatants.

In many cases, the content is submitted for approval to one of the unit’s commanders. The latter, however, do not always have control over what gets printed, because the artwork is a private initiative of soldiers that they never hear about. Drawings or slogans previously banned in certain units have been approved for distribution elsewhere. For example, shirts declaring, “We won’t chill ’til we confirm the kill” were banned in the past (the IDF claims that the practice doesn’t exist), yet the Haruv battalion printed some last year.

The slogan “Let every Arab mother know that her son’s fate is in my hands!” had previously been banned for use on another infantry unit’s shirt. A Givati soldier said this week, however, that at the end of last year, his platoon printed up dozens of shirts, fleece jackets and pants bearing this slogan.

“It has a drawing depicting a soldier as the Angel of Death, next to a gun and an Arab town,” he explains. “The text was very powerful. The funniest part was that when our soldier came to get the shirts, the man who printed them was an Arab, and the soldier felt so bad that he told the girl at the counter to bring them to him.”

Does the design go to the commanders for approval?

The Givati soldier: “Usually the shirts undergo a selection process by some officer, but in this case, they were approved at the level of platoon sergeant. We ordered shirts for 30 soldiers and they were really into it, and everyone wanted several items and paid NIS 200 on average.”

What do you think of the slogan that was printed?

“I didn’t like it so much, but most of the soldiers wanted it.”

Many controversial shirts have been ordered by graduates of snipers courses, which bring together soldiers from various units. In 2006, soldiers from the “Carmon Team” course for elite-unit marksmen printed a shirt with a drawing of a knife-wielding Palestinian in the crosshairs of a gun sight, and the slogan, “You’ve got to run fast, run fast, run fast, before it’s all over.” Below is a drawing of Arab women weeping over a grave and the words: “And afterward they cry, and afterward they cry.” [The inscriptions are riffs on a popular song.] Another sniper’s shirt also features an Arab man in the crosshairs, and the announcement, “Everything is with the best of intentions.”

G., a soldier in an elite unit who has done a snipers course, explained that, “it’s a type of bonding process, and also it’s well known that anyone who is a sniper is messed up in the head. Our shirts have a lot of double entendres, for example: ‘Bad people with good aims.’ Every group that finishes a course puts out stuff like that.”

When are these shirts worn?

G. “These are shirts for around the house, for jogging, in the army. Not for going out. Sometimes people will ask you what it’s about.”

Of the shirt depicting a bull’s-eye on a pregnant woman, he said: “There are people who think it’s not right, and I think so as well, but it doesn’t really mean anything. I mean it’s not like someone is gonna go and shoot a pregnant woman.”

What is the idea behind the shirt from July 2007, which has an image of a child with the slogan “Smaller – harder!”?

“It’s a kid, so you’ve got a little more of a problem, morally, and also the target is smaller.”

Do your superiors approve the shirts before printing?

“Yes, although one time they rejected some shirt that was too extreme. I don’t remember what was on it.”

These shirts also seem pretty extreme. Why draw crosshairs over a child – do you shoot kids?

‘We came, we saw’

“As a sniper, you get a lot of extreme situations. You suddenly see a small boy who picks up a weapon and it’s up to you to decide whether to shoot. These shirts are half-facetious, bordering on the truth, and they reflect the extreme situations you might encounter. The one who-honest-to-God sees the target with his own eyes – that’s the sniper.”

Have you encountered a situation like that?

“Fortunately, not involving a kid, but involving a woman – yes. There was someone who wasn’t holding a weapon, but she was near a prohibited area and could have posed a threat.”

What did you do?

“I didn’t take it” (i.e., shoot).

You don’t regret that, I imagine.

“No. Whomever I had to shoot, I shot.”

A shirt printed up just this week for soldiers of the Lavi battalion, who spent three years in the West Bank, reads: “We came, we saw, we destroyed!” – alongside images of weapons, an angry soldier and a Palestinian village with a ruined mosque in the center.

A shirt printed after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza for Battalion 890 of the Paratroops depicts a King Kong-like soldier in a city under attack. The slogan is unambiguous: “If you believe it can be fixed, then believe it can be destroyed!”

Y., a soldier/yeshiva student, designed the shirt. “You take whoever [in the unit] knows how to draw and then you give it to the commanders before printing,” he explained.

What is the soldier holding in his hand?

Y. “A mosque. Before I drew the shirt I had some misgivings, because I wanted it to be like King Kong, but not too monstrous. The one holding the mosque – I wanted him to have a more normal-looking face, so it wouldn’t look like an anti-Semitic cartoon. Some of the people who saw it told me, ‘Is that what you’ve got to show for the IDF? That it destroys homes?’ I can understand people who look at this from outside and see it that way, but I was in Gaza and they kept emphasizing that the object of the operation was to wreak destruction on the infrastructure, so that the price the Palestinians and the leadership pay will make them realize that it isn’t worth it for them to go on shooting. So that’s the idea of ‘we’re coming to destroy’ in the drawing.”

According to Y., most of these shirts are worn strictly in an army context, not in civilian life. “And within the army people look at it differently,” he added. “I don’t think I would walk down the street in this shirt, because it would draw fire. Even at my yeshiva I don’t think people would like it.”

Y. also came up with a design for the shirt his unit printed at the end of basic training. It shows a clenched fist shattering the symbol of the Paratroops Corps.

Where does the fist come from?

“It’s reminiscent of [Rabbi Meir] Kahane’s symbol. I borrowed it from an emblem for something in Russia, but basically it’s supposed to look like Kahane’s symbol, the one from ‘Kahane Was Right’ – it’s a sort of joke. Our company commander is kind of gung-ho.”

Was the shirt printed?

“Yes. It was a company shirt. We printed about 100 like that.”

This past January, the “Night Predators” demolitions platoon from Golani’s Battalion 13 ordered a T-shirt showing a Golani devil detonating a charge that destroys a mosque. An inscription above it says, “Only God forgives.”

One of the soldiers in the platoon downplays it: “It doesn’t mean much, it’s just a T-shirt from our platoon. It’s not a big deal. A friend of mine drew a picture and we made it into a shirt.”

What’s the idea behind “Only God forgives”?

The soldier: “It’s just a saying.”

No one had a problem with the fact that a mosque gets blown up in the picture?

“I don’t see what you’re getting at. I don’t like the way you’re going with this. Don’t take this somewhere you’re not supposed to, as though we hate Arabs.”

After Operation Cast Lead, soldiers from that battalion printed a T-shirt depicting a vulture sexually penetrating Hamas’ prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, accompanied by a particularly graphic slogan. S., a soldier in the platoon that ordered the shirt, said the idea came from a similar shirt, printed after the Second Lebanon War, that featured Hassan Nasrallah instead of Haniyeh.

“They don’t okay things like that at the company level. It’s a shirt we put out just for the platoon,” S. explained.

What’s the problem with this shirt?

S.: “It bothers some people to see these things, from a religious standpoint …”

How did people who saw it respond?

“We don’t have that many Orthodox people in the platoon, so it wasn’t a problem. It’s just something the guys want to put out. It’s more for wearing around the house, and not within the companies, because it bothers people. The Orthodox mainly. The officers tell us it’s best not to wear shirts like this on the base.”

The sketches printed in recent years at the Adiv factory, one of the largest of its kind in the country, are arranged in drawers according to the names of the units placing the orders: Paratroops, Golani, air force, sharpshooters and so on. Each drawer contains hundreds of drawings, filed by year. Many of the prints are cartoons and slogans relating to life in the unit, or inside jokes that outsiders wouldn’t get (and might not care to, either), but a handful reflect particular aggressiveness, violence and vulgarity.

Print-shop manager Haim Yisrael, who has worked there since the early 1980s, said Adiv prints around 1,000 different patterns each month, with soldiers accounting for about half. Yisrael recalled that when he started out, there were hardly any orders from the army.

“The first ones to do it were from the Nahal brigade,” he said. “Later on other infantry units started printing up shirts, and nowadays any course with 15 participants prints up shirts.”

From time to time, officers complain. “Sometimes the soldiers do things that are inside jokes that only they get, and sometimes they do something foolish that they take to an extreme,” Yisrael explained. “There have been a few times when commanding officers called and said, ‘How can you print things like that for soldiers?’ For example, with shirts that trashed the Arabs too much. I told them it’s a private company, and I’m not interested in the content. I can print whatever I like. We’re neutral. There have always been some more extreme and some less so. It’s just that now more people are making shirts.”

Race to be unique

Evyatar Ben-Tzedef, a research associate at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism and former editor of the IDF publication Maarachot, said the phenomenon of custom-made T-shirts is a product of “the infantry’s insane race to be unique. I, for example, had only one shirt that I received after the Yom Kippur War. It said on it, ‘The School for Officers,’ and that was it. What happened since then is a product of the decision to assign every unit an emblem and a beret. After all, there used to be very few berets: black, red or green. This changed in the 1990s. [The shirts] developed because of the fact that for bonding purposes, each unit created something that was unique to it.

“These days the content on shirts is sometimes deplorable,” Ben-Tzedef explained. “It stems from the fact that profanity is very acceptable and normative in Israel, and that there is a lack of respect for human beings and their environment, which includes racism aimed in every direction.”

Yossi Kaufman, who moderates the army and defense forum on the Web site Fresh, served in the Armored Corps from 1996 to 1999. “I also drew shirts, and I remember the first one,” he said. “It had a small emblem on the front and some inside joke, like, ‘When we die, we’ll go to heaven, because we’ve already been through hell.'”

Kaufman has also been exposed to T-shirts of the sort described here. “I know there are shirts like these,” he says. “I’ve heard and also seen a little. These are not shirts that soldiers can wear in civilian life, because they would get stoned, nor at a battalion get-together, because the battalion commander would be pissed off. They wear them on very rare occasions. There’s all sorts of black humor stuff, mainly from snipers, such as, ‘Don’t bother running because you’ll die tired’ – with a drawing of a Palestinian boy, not a terrorist. There’s a Golani or Givati shirt of a soldier raping a girl, and underneath it says, ‘No virgins, no terror attacks.’ I laughed, but it was pretty awful. When I was asked once to draw things like that, I said it wasn’t appropriate.”

The IDF Spokesman’s Office comments on the phenomenon: “Military regulations do not apply to civilian clothing, including shirts produced at the end of basic training and various courses. The designs are printed at the soldiers’ private initiative, and on civilian shirts. The examples raised by Haaretz are not in keeping with the values of the IDF spirit, not representative of IDF life, and are in poor taste. Humor of this kind deserves every condemnation and excoriation. The IDF intends to take action for the immediate eradication of this phenomenon. To this end, it is emphasizing to commanding officers that it is appropriate, among other things, to take discretionary and disciplinary measures against those involved in acts of this sort.”

Shlomo Tzipori, a lieutenant colonel in the reserves and a lawyer specializing in martial law, said the army does bring soldiers up on charges for offenses that occur outside the base and during their free time. According to Tzipori, slogans that constitute an “insult to the army or to those in uniform” are grounds for court-martial, on charges of “shameful conduct” or “disciplinary infraction,” which are general clauses in judicial martial law.

Sociologist Dr. Orna Sasson-Levy, of Bar-Ilan University, author of “Identities in Uniform: Masculinities and Femininities in the Israeli Military,” said that the phenomenon is “part of a radicalization process the entire country is undergoing, and the soldiers are at its forefront. I think that ever since the second intifada there has been a continual shift to the right. The pullout from Gaza and its outcome – the calm that never arrived – led to a further shift rightward.

“This tendency is most strikingly evident among soldiers who encounter various situations in the territories on a daily basis. There is less meticulousness than in the past, and increasing callousness. There is a perception that the Palestinian is not a person, a human being entitled to basic rights, and therefore anything may be done to him.”

Could the printing of clothing be viewed also as a means of venting aggression?

Sasson-Levy: “No. I think it strengthens and stimulates aggression and legitimizes it. What disturbs me is that a shirt is something that has permanence. The soldiers later wear it in civilian life; their girlfriends wear it afterward. It is not a statement, but rather something physical that remains, that is out there in the world. Beyond that, I think the link made between sexist views and nationalist views, as in the ‘Screw Haniyeh’ shirt, is interesting. National chauvinism and gender chauvinism combine and strengthen one another. It establishes a masculinity shaped by violent aggression toward women and Arabs; a masculinity that considers it legitimate to speak in a crude and violent manner toward women and Arabs.”

Col. (res.) Ron Levy began his military service in the Sayeret Matkal elite commando force before the Six-Day War. He was the IDF’s chief psychologist, and headed the army’s mental health department in the 1980s.

Levy: “I’m familiar with things of this sort going back 40, 50 years, and each time they take a different form. Psychologically speaking, this is one of the ways in which soldiers project their anger, frustration and violence. It is a certain expression of things, which I call ‘below the belt.'”

Do you think this a good way to vent anger?

Levy: “It’s safe. But there are also things here that deviate from the norm, and you could say that whoever is creating these things has reached some level of normality. He gives expression to the fact that what is considered abnormal today might no longer be so tomorrow.”

With Israel there will never be peace

by Gianni Perrelli

Exclusive: The leader of Hamas in exile speaks. He announces an imminent conflict. That is because he says Tel Aviv is not interested in listening to Palestinians. And from America, the opening with Damascus was nothing but words. Conversation with Khaled Meshaal From the Italian news magazine L’Espresso. Translated by Mary Rizzo.

 

“In the name of God, the clement, the merciful, I would like to ask the first question. Is it possible that after the war against Gaza and our heroic resistance, Israel still does not understand that the peace process cannot be done without Hamas…?”

Khaled Meshaal, leader of Hamas, in exile for more than 40 years, reels off this question with the attitude of a challenge. Despite the severe losses (more than 1,400 Palestinians killed) he claims victory for the withdrawal of the Israeli troops decided by Israel. But he does not demonstrate that he harbours any illusions in the short-term. With the new government guided by Benjamin Netanyahu about to take oath, he awaits only more hostilities from Israel. And neither does he hold out great expectations on the first steps taken by Barack Obama, as he announced the will to follow along the road of force, “the only language that Israel fears and which bring about results.”

This exclusive interview to L’Espresso, obtained following complicated negotiations between Beirut and the Syrian capital, is the first one that Meshaal has given to the print media in the aftermath of the war. We have met him in a highly secured place in the outskirts of Damascus, arriving in a car with smoked windows. Before the entrance, armed militants bear Kalashnikovs. Yet, these security measures are necessary following the high number (45) of leaders of the movement that have been eliminated by Israel. The leader, in a grey suit and without a tie, appears cordial and relaxed. His calm demeanour never wavers in a conversation that takes off from the assignment of the task of forming a government given to Netanyahu, the Prime Minister who in ’97 sent a squad from the Mossad to poison him. “Netanyahu was the instigator of the thwarted attempt to assassinate me, but he, like all the Israeli Prime Ministers, is especially responsible for the assassination attempts against the entire Palestinian population. There are only slight nuances, but no substantial differences between the positions of the Likud, Kadima or Labour. For 60 years there has not been a single Israeli government that has not committed crimes against us. And it is better to face off with a conservative leadership that clearly follows its stated goals rather than the hypocrisy of the Labourists who only pretend to be committed to a peace process and while under their governments the greatest parts of the settlements have been built.”

But with Netanyahu, if Hamas does not open itself to dialogue, aren’t you risking catapulting into another war?

“We are not worried about a new war. Our people will never be defeated and it will never surrender. The defiance we face reinforces us because they are afraid of death and we are not. Peace is possible only if an international voice rises up to push for the recognition of our rights. The objective remains the constitution of a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital, the return of the Israelis to the pre-67 borders and the right of return of our refugees. We can accept nothing less than this. Has there ever been an Israeli government that has considered it right to address our aspirations? They say no to everything and they only act as if they are interested in a solution. Then what is left to negotiate upon?”


With the PA and Fatah the Jewish State is involved in dialogue. How can Hamas hope to gain their understanding if it continues to shoot rockets into Israel?
 

“That is a good question that gives me the opportunity to explain why the six month truce that expired in December was not extended. Israel made a commitment to put an end to the siege on Gaza and to open the checkpoints. None of this happened. They want to suffocate us, to cage us in a ‘Bantustan’. How can one talk about a truce when under siege? To guarantee its own security, Israel persists in the error of betting on the military defeat of our people. I have studied physics and I am convinced that in political relations Newton’s Law applies: every action corresponds to an equal and opposite reaction. When they will cease their aggression our resistance will come to its end as well. But if the gates remain sealed shut, the only outlet, I repeat, remains the struggle.”


They have put you in a sort of isolation.

“Sooner or later the world will open its eyes. The international community continues to see only our rockets but they ignore their F16s, the use of white phosphorus bombs. Israel takes advantage of its aprioristic support of the Americans, of the scarce credibility of the UN, weakened by the pressure from Washington and of the absolute vagueness of Europe which proves to be inert or withdrawn. How can so many European leaders remain unmoved when basic values are being trampled on? Things like freedom, human rights, democracy even? How can they not understand that they must come to an agreement with Hamas, which is a movement of the people?”

But things are changing with Obama, aren’t they?

 

“We all hope so. But a major change has to happen. Obama speaks a new language, but I don’t know if that is enough. We need new politics.”

If you could meet Obama, what would you say?

“Meet him? But if he has not even delisted me from the terrorist blacklist… But it is a fact that without Hamas, not even Obama will be able to make much headway. However I would invite him to consider the opportunity of a change. It’s not possible to make exceptions for Israel, ignoring the rights of other people. This change of approach would be in the interests not only of Palestine, but of the entire Middle East and the United States itself. America is involved and it will be the first to lose if the prospects of peace disappear. The first signals, however, are not very encouraging. Senator John Kerry, upon visiting Gaza was shaken by the destruction, but he nevertheless repeated that Israel has a right to defend itself.”

Well how can you deny that? For years Israel has been paying an extremely high price in innocent blood. First with the suicide bombers, now with the rockets even if in the last war there was enormous disproportion between your losses and theirs.

“We are not the bloodthirsty people they paint us as. We do not want innocent victims, from our side or theirs. But the Palestinian question has become a severe pathology. And whoever honestly tries to diagnose the cause can only individuate the occupation as the prime factor. Nothing is left to us but to resist.”

The international community would be more attentive to your issues if you recognised Israel.

“Do you think it’s the right moment after the barbarity of the recent war? Israel has already too much recognition. And it is the Palestinian people who need to be recognised.”

There are those who insist that after the war the people of Gaza are turning their backs on Hamas.

“I can assure you that our consensus in Gaza, in the West Bank and in the entire Arab world has grown exponentially. We do not feel isolated. And we are not closing ourselves off in a ghetto either. The United States wants to stick the label on us that we are a creature of Iran or Syria. We know these instruments of denigration. But we don’t think that America is an impartial judge. We open our doors to anyone who wishes to help us. And we ask whoever is against us to say with whom they intend to negotiate peace, seeing as how they do not want to give legitimacy to Hamas, which went to power by means of a democratic election.”

In the Territories there are some who admonish that you have lost contact with Palestine. That the leaders of Hamas have lived too many years in exile.

“Yes, there are some who insinuate that. But it is pure conjecture. We are all sons of Palestine. I cannot return due to the occupation. And like me, the same is true of all of the PLO leaders who lived for many years in exile, not because they wanted to, but because they were forced to.”

In Gaza uncertainty remains. Olmert subordinates the truce to the liberation of the soldier Shalit.

“The request already irritated the Egyptian mediators and it was duly rejected. Olmert is a hypocrite. Only today he remembers his soldier. We won’t be blackmailed. We are in favour of the liberation, but only through an exchange with the Palestinian prisoners, 12 thousand, among them children, old people and the sick.”

If Marwan Barghouti were liberated, would the road to reconciliation be easier?

“We hope he will be liberated. But no one can personify in himself an entire cause.”

Within the Palestinian political sphere there is need for détente. Is it possible to bring back a kind of reconciliation between Hamas and the more moderate Al Fatah?

“Differences can be overcome only if some rules are respected. It is necessary that the brothers in Al Fatah respect the outcome of the election. And then they need to consolidate the basis of democracy within the Palestinian Authority. The inalienable principle that all of us defend in the first place the interests of the Palestinians. It must be established that our law and order forces are at the service of the security of Palestine and not – under the direction of the American general Keith Dayton – at the service of Israel.” 

(26 February 2009)

http://espresso.repubblica.it/dettaglio/con-israele-non-sara-mai-pace/2069306/11/1

translated from Italian by Mary Rizzo for www.tlaxcala.es and www.palestinethinktank.com


thanks very much to one of our attentive readers, Rodney, who sent this video from Australian TV, where Shimon Peres makes one outrageous claim after another, including that the Gaza checkpoints have always been open. If you can stand someone lying through their teeth, this is the man for you.

This interview was made by activist, writer, translator and academic Mauro Manno. Last Friday, following 14 months of suffering, our friend Mauro was released from his agony. All those who knew him, worked together with him and who were befriended by him will miss his intellect, generosity, determination and commitment to a cause. It is with sadness and emotion that I have translated this last interview given by my friend. I realise how much our activist movement has gained from his activity and how much it will now lose without his presence and both Palestine Think Tank and Tlaxcala express deepest gratitude to him for his efforts and, (I can only say it in Italian) stringiamo davvero forte alla sua famiglia perché se noi sentiamo la sua mancanza, i suoi cari sentirebbero un vuoto incolmabile. Ciao Mauro, ovunque sei.

Tlaxcala has set up a lovely hommage to Mauro, with his translations, writings, translations others have done of him and more. Please visit it.
http://www.tlaxcala.es/detail_artistes.asp?lg=en&reference=292

Translated from Italian by Mary Rizzo and revised by Saja for Tlaxcala

by Giovanna Canzano – 06/01/2009

Fonte: Arianna Editrice [scheda fonte]

http://www.ariannaeditrice.it/articolo.php?id_articolo=23378  
 
…“What nation would have accepted the division of its own territory imposed from above, even if it were the UN (which at the time, let’s not forget, was constituted of a quarter of the current states and was under the control of the USA and the Soviet Union).

If the UN had only seen to imposing just the application of Resolution 194 that asked Israel to allow the Palestinians who had been forcefully removed to return, well, things would have gone in a very different way. But Israel rejected that resolution…” (Mauro Manno)

CANZANO – Jews “Über alles”. Since 1948, with the birth of the state of Israel,  we can see, from reading various papers, the Jewish presence in every sector of cultural and economic life: guides and wise men and “righteous men”?

MANNO – I wouldn’t say “Jews Über alles” but rather “Zionists über Alles”. Today this distinction is fundamental. I’ve been studying the politics of Zionism for years now and can say with certainty that the confusion over this point is not only erroneous, historically and politically, but it is also unfair towards those many Jews who had been the victims of Zionism. Even today there are Jews who are victims of Zionism. A few of these new victims I know personally and it doesn’t seem to me that they are “über Alles”, but instead they are certainly under Zionist scrutiny. They are ostracised, they lose their university positions such as happened to Norman Finkelstein, the author of “The Holocaust Industry” or they get isolated and put in conditions where they leave not only their university post, but also their loved ones and friends in Israel and emigrate in the West, as happened to Ilan Pappe, the author of “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”. These Jews suffer because they have the courage of proclaiming that they are anti-Zionists. This act of revolt against Zionism doesn’t constitute only the repudiation of that political ideology, but also the rejection of the historical consequences that its victory has had, that is, the Jewish State, Israel as a Jewish State. The anti-Zionists wish for the end of the state of Israel as it has been built by the Zionists and they fight for its substitution with a single, democratic state for all the Jews and all the Palestinians who are within the whole of Palestine, that is, within Israel and the Occupied Territories, Gaza included.

 

But that is not all; they also support the Right of Return of the refugees forced to leave in 1948, just as is sanctioned by UN Resolution 194, which was voted upon exactly 60 years ago (11 December 1948) but never applied.

However, there is an important point to make! Whoever knows the fate of these new victims of Zionism, the anti-Zionist Jews, must not forget the much more tragic fate reserved for the assimilationist Jews during the Second World War. They too were against Zionism, and they too were the victims of Zionism. This is the part of their story that the Zionists want to keep absolutely hidden. The Zionist battle against assimilationist Jews, conducted in collaboration with the Nazis and the anti-Semites.

 

Anything but “righteous men”, the Zionists are the political men who are the least righteous at all, towards other Jews and non-Jews alike.

 

CANZANO – Who are the Jewish assimilationists?
 
MANNO – Jewish assimilationists were those Jews who wanted to assimilate, become part of the population in the country they were born in. According to Rabbinic law, Halacha is the Jew who is son or daughter of a Jewish woman or someone who converts to Judaism. Jewishness is therefore transmitted by way of blood, from mother to son or daughter. For other religions, this is not the case: the Christianity of a Catholic or the Islam of a Muslim is not transmitted by way of blood. To conserve this Jewish peculiarity, it is fundamental towards the conservation of Judaism in general that the family does not have any mixed marriages, with non-Jews. If a Jew (not born in Israel) believes that the fact of being the child of a Jewish mother does not make him Jewish, if he rejects the Jewish religion, if he considers himself a free human being that can chose another religion or no religion at all, if he wants to live without the weight of the Jewish past of his family, then he is an assimilationist. He wants to leave the closed Jewish world and enter into the world that is more open and free that he finds outside the Jewish one. So, this person would have totally adopted the culture, language, lifestyle, cuisine, tradition, etc., of the country in which he lives. He would adopt its destiny as well. He wouldn’t feel obligated to marry a Jewish woman and in that way according to Halacha, his children would no longer be Jews. If he educates his children in the spirit in which he himself has lived, and his children also have mixed marriages, and their children and so on, after a few generations, his descendants will no longer be Jews, but they will be Italians, Germans, French, etc., in every way, shape and form. The Zionist Jabotinsky, who obviously abhorred assimilation said, “to read true assimilation… [the Jew] would have to produce, through a long series of mixed marriages, in a period of various decades, a grandson of a grandson of a grandson within whose veins runs only a slight trace of Jewish blood, because that grandson of a grandson of a grandson will have the spiritual conformation of a true Frenchman or a true German.” Mixed marriage is at the base of assimilation. Before the Second World War, mixed marriages were in strong progression, for example, in 1929 in Germany, they constituted 59% of the marriages, and pure marriages,with both of the spouses being Jewish was a 41% minority. That frightened the Zionists, who considered assimilationists something like traitors. When the Nazis came to power, the International Zionist organisations broke their necks to collaborate with them and they even made pacts with them to allow only the emigration of Zionists outside of Germany (recovering their belongings) and sending them to the Palestinian colonies. The assimilationist Jews did not interest them and they were left to their own fate. The Zionists did nothing so that the assimilationist Jews could emigrate to America or to other Western states, as a matter of fact, they blocked any efforts in this direction. Later, during the war, they extended this policy to the rest of Europe. There were killings and massacres of Jews and they were dealing only in order to save those who were Zionists and who would emigrate to Palestine, all the rest could simply be left to die. The example of Rezso Kasztner is illuminating. This Hungarian Zionist in 1944 bartered the salvation of his family and those belonging to various Hungarian Zionist organisations, 1,600 persons in all, in exchange for his collaboration and that of his followers in order to facilitate the deportation to Auschwitz of hundreds of thousands of assimilationist Jews.

 

This policy has facilitated the near extinction of non-Zionist Jews, those on the road towards assimilation. The Zionists share responsibility, together with the Nazis, of this crime. This is the reason for which most of the Jews of the Diaspora declare themselves to be Zionists and they generally marry only other Jews.

 

CANZANO – Are you saying there was an ethnic cleansing of Jews conducted by other Jews?
 
MANNO – I would hold that term, “ethnic cleansing” to describe what the Zionists did to the Palestinians in 1948. They had cleared Palestine of its antique inhabitants, as Ilan Pappe has carefully demonstrated in his recent book, the title of which refers to the ethnic cleansing. I would instead say that there was a will of the Zionists to rid themselves of non-Zionist Jews. I had spoken of the shared responsibility of the Zionists with the Nazis. It was the Nazis to bring them to their deaths, while the Zionists collaborated at various levels with the killers. During the Second World War, the Zionists, in some cases, had even killed directly, most of the time they had denounced other Jews, they often helped run the concentration camps, they had convinced the assimilationists to stay in their place, to not rebel, all of that in exchange for the salvation of their Zionist followers, their friends and their families. Regarding their followers, it is essential to note that the Zionist leaders didn’t even work on saving them all, but only the young ones, that is, those who could engage in armed combat (in prevision of a war against the English and the Palestinians), in other words, those who could work towards the development of the colonies, those who could bear children. The old people and small children only would have been an encumbrance. In 1937 Chaim Weizmann, future President of Israel, before the Peel Commission in London coldly declared: “I want to save… the young [for Palestine]. The old ones will pass. They will bear their fate or they will not. They were dust, economic and moral dust in a cruel world…Only the branch of the young shall survive…They have to accept it.” And, remember, this is a Zionist speaking. Ben Gurion, speaking in ’38 of children (children of Zionists and non-Zionists) said, “If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England and only half of them by transporting them to Palestine I would choose the second.” Ben Gurion knew that if the assimilationists and persons of good will would have wanted to choose between “saving Jews from Concentration Camps” and Zionism, “mercy” would have “had the upper hand and the whole energy of the people would be channelled into saving Jews from various countries;” then Zionism “will be struck off the agenda not only in world public opinion, in Britain and in the United States, but elsewhere in Jewish public opinion.” For the Zionists this absolutely could not be allowed to happen and they did everything possible so that it did not happen. Just think that when someone said to Yitzhak Gruenbaum, leader of the Rescue Committee (!) of the Jewish Agency in Palestine, in 1943 when the killings started said, “Don’t build new colonies (…) send money save Jews in the Diaspora,” he responded: “Zionism is above everything.” On another occasion, still in 1943, he stated, “one cow in Palestine is worth more than all the Jews in Europe.” So, it was in this way that the Zionists, allying themselves with the Nazis, saved themselves, while the non-Zionists were eliminated as a direct result of that alliance. And today the Zionists dominate over all the Jews and they greatly influence the Western governments. They determine American foreign policy (see the book by Mearsheimer and Walt). And for this, reason, Israel is untouchable and can do anything it wants to and not only to the Palestinians… but here we are touching upon the problem of the Zionist lobby.

 

CANZANO – Zionist lobby?

 

MANNO – To make it understandable, let us take the example of the Zionist lobby in America, which is the strongest Zionist lobby in the West. In the race for the American presidency, everyone had to see both Obama and his vice, Biden and the two losers McCain and Palin, run to genuflect before the organisation of the strongest of the lobbies, AIPAC. This had been foreseen by Mearsheimer and Walt and it happened without delay. The two candidates have been forced to undergo an accurate examination before the judges of the lobby concerning their proposals regarding Israel and to the command posts that would be willing to pass to Zionists (Jews or non-Jews) in their future administration. Everyone will remember how Obama was able to catch his rival off balance proclaiming that he supported the line of “a sole and indivisible Jerusalem as capital of the Jewish State.” McCain didn’t go quite so far. This line is officially condemned by the international community on the basis of a series of UN resolutions. Israel continues in its expulsion of the Palestinians (many of them Christians) of the Holy City and the West pretends nothing is happening while at the same time maintaining the official position of the UN. Now Obama, the “man of peace” has gone closer to the side of Israel than any other president has yet done. It seemed in the beginning that the determinant support of the lobby was going to go towards McCain, but then something changed. It is necessary to recall that Obama’s vice, Joe Biden, as soon as he was nominated declared himself to be “an ardent Zionist! And I would not be surprised if it was the Lobby itself that had imposed Biden on Obama. Then Obama was able to give secure guarantees, favours (and money) of the lobby all flowed his way. It was a formidable coup for the Zionists. Now the lobby will have a pro-Israel policy and a pro-Israel lobby pushed forward by a popular president and not by a shadow of Bush. The Western politicians can also make their own policies more pro-Israel and pro-USA (which is the same) without clashing very much with public opinion. The pacifist movement is completely shattered. Certainly, quite soon Obama will destroy his image of the new man, becoming like Rice or Powell, the black man that is used to serve the interests of the lobby, but this means nothing to the lobby, and why should it if they are able to get just what they want? In reality the image of Obama is already sullied. The choice of Clinton for Secretary of State, the choice of Rahm Emanuel (whose father declared that he detests Arabs and he is sure that his son will work in favour of Israel) are just the first signs. The lobby was able to obtain something else as well. After the domination that Bush had given to another wing of the lobby, to the discredited neo-cons (almost all of them Jewish), the Zionists strategists figured out how to have the same policies be carried out by non-Jews, but ones who are of proven Zionist faith. Thus, after Biden, we see the re-emergence of Clinton (with whom Obama once had clashes regarding foreign policy, and now we see him entrust that ministry to her). Hillary is another Zionist that will bring to the Secretary of State office the Jewish team her husband had: Madeleine Albright, Holbrooke, Dennis Ross, etc. The same politics of the Jewish neo-cons but officially carried out by non-Jews. The non-Jewish Zionists are fortunately very few but they are the worst traitors of their country and they send young Americans to war so that Israel can be strengthened, which is what happened in Iraq. Even we Europeans have our Zionist lobby. Let’s not harbour any illusions there.

 

CANZANO – There is a Zionist lobby in Europe?

 

MANNO – The Zionist lobby can be found anywhere in the world where there are Zionists. If they were all in Israel it would all be so simple, but there is the Diaspora and among the Jews of the Diaspora there are many Zionists. This was already in the program of the First Zionist Congress (1897) that the Zionists of the Diaspora would have to take the preparatory steps “towards obtaining the consent of governments, where necessary in order to reach the goals of Zionism.” And that is what they have been able to do. Today, after the birth of Israel, the American Zionist lobby and the various national lobbies always serve the “goals of Zionism”, that however are not the same as those when the task at hand was founding the Jewish State. 60 years since its foundation, Israel does not yet have a solid base. Its existence as a “Jewish State” is taken to task and it is maintained only with the use of force. Being an ethnic state that occupied other people’s land and oppresses the Palestinians, without any respect for international law, it is well aware that it is an illegitimate state. The lobby has the task of “making it legitimate” at least in the eyes of the West. Europe, at least on a formal level, has been involved in the Middle East in a position of equilibrium between Arabs and Israelis. We have major interests in the Arab world. In 2004 there have been the first changes. The EU Council approved the “EU-Israel Action Plan” and in spite of the horrifying record of Israel in the area of human rights, the Plan declared that “The EU and Israel share the same values of democracy, respect for human rights and sovereignty of law and the fundamental freedoms.” This is absolutely false and I am prepared to demonstrate it. However the Plan gets worse: it gives Israel the possibility of “participating in key aspects of EU policies and programmes.” We will become a Zionist colony.

 

Since 2006 the position of Europe has further changed. First there was a softening of criticism of Israel. That took place by pressure from a special “Jewish American Committee for Europe”. Within that group we find AIPAC, the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), the American Jewish Congress, which has distinguished itself from the others. Responding in a positive way on behalf of Europe as first Prodi, then Ferrero-Waldner and now Barroso. Before 2000 the EU expected Israel to pay for the damage caused within the Occupied Territories with European money and now, after Ferrero-Waldner and Barroso, the territories don’t get anything. Today in the European Parliament there is a group of approximately 200 parliament members called “European Friends of Israel” who work for Tel Aviv. This effort is sustained by Jewish businessmen everywhere in the continent as well as Jews who have been elected in the various parliaments such as, in Italy, Fiamma Nierenstein and the lawyer Alessandro Ruben. Lastly, with the French EU presidency of the Jewish Zionist (he himself declared this) Nicolas Sarkozy and the constitution of the Mediterranean Union, Zionism is now very close to obtaining the acceptance and the legitimisation of Israel in the Arab world, through Europe. Be very careful, this is not a peace policy, as the European governors keep saying. If there is the realisation of Arab legitimisation, Israel will have their hands free for a military policy, against Iran, against Hezbollah and the Palestinians, with the blessings of the Arab countries. In this framework, the Palestinian State will be a series of tiny Bantustans that are completely surrounded, just like Gaza. Only the economic crisis of the West can stop the conflict. If the economic crisis makes the corrupt Arab nations that are governing lose their power, we will see a reprisal of terrorism, revolts, revolutions and frustrated Arab peoples.

 

CANZANO – So, Israel is not a democratic State?

 

MANNO – No. No, it is not. It is an ethnocratic state. A Jews-only state. Democracy in the Jewish State is only valid for Jews. For non-Jews it is a farce. Let’s try to imagine for a moment that in a multi-ethnic country in which there is a colonial administration, a party that represents a particular ethnic group has in mind, once colonialism has ended, to constitute a democratic state over the entire country, but to kick out all the other ethnic groups. How can we say that the programme that this party has is a democratic one? For me it’s a racist programme based on ethnic cleansing.

 

Now, let’s try to imagine that once the phase of colonialism has ended, this party is allowed to make it’s own state by only on part of the territory in the country and on the condition that even on that territory there are no expulsions made on an ethnic basis. It instead happened that the state was founded immediately after the expulsion of the majority of its inhabitants on behalf of the minority, according to its initial racist programme. It’s a democratic state but democracy is supposed to involve the entire population, not just the minority that has undertaken an ethnic cleansing. Now we see that institutions that represent international law (the UN for example) are asking this ethnic state to reintegrate those who had been expelled and to give them equal democratic rights. In response, this “democratic” state (only for the ethnic group it represents) refuses to do it, instead it perseveres with its initial programme of wanting to conquer the entire territory of the country and to colonise it with people of its same ethnic group that are brought in from other countries. This new expansion and this new ethnic cleansing do not happen in a haphazard way, but rather is sanctioned within the founding documents of the “democratic” state. For example, within them we see that the entire territory of the country belongs to all of those are members of the right ethnic group wherever they are to be found (and perhaps even have been living there for thousands of years) and do not on the other hand belong to those who had been expelled just prior to the foundation of the ethnic state. Is this still a democratic state?

And that is not all. Let’s imagine that in this ethnic state there has been a small minority of the wrong ethnic group that has survived. It’s a minority with a demographic growth that constitutes nearly a quarter of the entire population. These persons are treated like second-class citizens, in economic activities, before the law, in daily life, and so on, where they have to undergo a thousand kinds of discrimination. The worst discrimination concerns the possession of land. The state has secured for itself, with another founding law by the ethnic “democracy”, that 93% of the country’s land has to stay in the hands of the right ethnic group. The sale of terrain (and that includes any property that is built upon it) is allowed only between people of this ethnic group. It is however possible to purchase new land in that 7% that was left to the minority ethnic group, in such as way so as to expand the property of the right ethnic group. Is it still a democratic state?

When confronted with these discriminations, the ethnic state concedes a limited voting right and a limited right to criticise of the discriminated minority group. Are these political rights enough when put next to the thousand discriminations to make this a democratic state?

 

I can already hear the defenders of Israel, because that is what we are talking about, object and protest against my last affirmation on the limited political rights of the Palestinian majority. Instead, that is only the way it is. Think about the fact that in Israel it is prohibited to challenge the Jewish character of the state. It is prohibited to found parties that have as a programme proposing a different kind of state, not an ethnic one, but one for all its citizens. It is prohibited to fight for the application of UN Resolution 194 that imposes the right of return of the Palestinians who had been expelled. It is prohibited to fight for the abolition of the founding law of the state that says that Palestine belongs to all the Jews of the world and in any moment any one of them may come to Palestine to occupy property that the army of the Jewish state has seen to taking away from some Palestinian of the Occupied Territories. Is this still a democratic state? Then it is established that Catholic citizens (whatever that term comes to mean now) cannot sell property to Jews, Protestants, et al., so that the land of Italy will be concentrated more and more in Catholic hands. Non-Catholics will have the right to vote, but in such a way so as to not endanger the “Catholic” character of the state. Could Italy still call itself democratic under those conditions? And I have to remind those who defend Israel that the Jews in Italy are not a quarter of the population as the Palestinians in Israel are. I remind them as well that if things continue in this direction, there is the risk not only of an ethnocratic state of Israel, but that it actually becomes a theocratic state, taking into consideration the growing importance of religious parties in Israeli politics.

 

CANZANO – In relation to what has already been said in this interview, what would your explanation be for the furious Israeli attack against Gaza?

 

MANNO – If we look at what’s happening in Gaza now within the historical framework that in some way we have traced in this interview, we must conclude that this is nothing less than a further step ahead in the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. If Israel wanted to come to a compromise with the Palestinians regarding a Palestinian state, well, there was no shortage of opportunities. The supporters of Israel insist that it was the Palestinian side that would not accept the division of Palestine in 1948. But, who would have accepted such a thing? What nation would have accepted the division of its own territory imposed from on high, even from the UN (which at the time, bear in mind, was constituted of only a quarter of the current states and it was under control of the US and USSR). If then the UN would have imposed also the application of UN Resolution 194, which asked Israel to allow the Palestinians cast off forcefully to be able to return, then things would have gone quite differently. But Israel rejected the Resolution, as it was sure of the support of the USA, which was already under the heavy influence of the American Zionist lobby. It did much more, actually. It assassinated the UN mediator Folke Bernadotte who was elaborating a new policy at the time.

 

Israel wanted an ethnically pure state and nothing else would suffice. This is Zionism. After the 1967 war, Israel would not accept Resolution 242 either, which imposed the withdrawal of Israel from the Occupied Territories. Instead, against all international law, it started to colonise these territories. Israel would accept no compromise during the Oslo Agreements and it still today forges ahead with colonisation. In 2002 the Arab states offered the recognition of Israel in exchange for the withdrawal of Israel to the confines of 1967, but Israel refused, started the construction of the wall that has claimed vast parts of the Occupied Territories from which the Palestinian population is slowly but surely being expelled from, and it still carries on with the construction of settlements and the suffocation of the Palestinians of East Jerusalem.

 

When in 2006 Hamas won the elections democratically and formed its government over all the Palestinians of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, Israel would not recognise it. Together with the complicity of the EU, it started a policy of dividing the Palestinians. This policy was supported by the corrupt Abu Mazen. To safeguard unity, Hamas accepted to reach a compromise with him and with that part of Al Fatah that backs him; together with him they formed a national unity government. Instigated by the USA and Israel, Abu Mazen, convinced that even the new government was born due to weakness of Hamas, organised a plot in Gaza to evict the military power of the rival party, but that attempt failed and it was actually the followers of Abu Mazen to be cast out of Gaza. Consequently, Abu Mazen dissolved the government, forming one with his most loyal followers and he let Israel arrest ministers, parliament members, leaders of Hamas all throughout the West Bank. He committed to an agreement for Peace with Israel (Annapolis). This obviously all came to nothing, because Israel will not give in on even the smallest detail, and it wants people like Abu Mazen who will play his part in the pretence of agreements and in the meantime keeps on building settlements and carries on with ethnic cleansing. For Israel it became therefore essential to eliminate Hamas, killing or arresting all of its leaders. This is the reason of the criminal attack against Gaza; to conquer it and give it to Abu Mazen with whom it could continue with the pretence of agreements. If Hamas resists and Israel is forced to cease the attack and to withdraw, Abu Mazen will be the first loser, but losing will also be the entire strategy of Israel and of the Americans.

     Di umili origini, Manno era nato nel Nordeuropa, dove il padre s’era dovuto trasferire per trovare lavoro. Ciò fu forse alla base del suo interesse per la germanistica, culminato con una laurea in Lingue dell’Europa Occidentale ed una lunga attività come traduttore.

 

      Coltivò, tuttavia, anche un’altra passione: quella per la storia e la geopolitica, ed in particolare studiò a fondo la questione palestinese e l’ideologia sionista, temi su cui produsse molteplici articoli, saggi e libri.

 

      Era tra i soci fondatori dell’Istituto “Enrico Mattei” di Alti Studi in Vicino e Medio Oriente.

 

      Mauro Manno seppe unire, nei propri studi e nelle proprie opere, il suo forte senso della giustizia con un’irreprensibile serietà scientifica, cosicché la prima fu temperata dalla seconda, e la seconda animata e ben indirizzata dalla prima.

 

      Tra le sue virtù, ricordiamo anche la grande modestia ed umiltà, tale da spingerlo a vergare il proprio nome sempre senza le iniziali maiuscole, ritenendo così d’esprimere quella che, a suo giudizio, era la relativa poca importanza della sua persona. In questo ci permettiamo affettuosamente di dissentire da lui.

 

      La Redazione di “Eurasia”, che s’unisce al cordoglio della famiglia, serberà a lungo il ricordo di Mauro Manno, per il contributo importante che ha dato alla conoscenza del Vicino Oriente nel nostro paese, e per la sua umanità che l’ha reso un esempio di rettitudine ed onestà intellettuale.

 

———–

 

([Al-Awda-Italia] Digest Number 3373)

WRITTEN By PAUL SCHEMM
The rules were simple: Don’t touch the blindfold. The handcuffs stay on. Speak only when spoken to — and then only in a low voice.

Newly released German-Egyptian activist Philip Rizk said Thursday that he was interrogated by Egypt’s State Security for four days, accused of being everything from an Israeli spy to a gunrunner for the militant group Hamas.

Rizk was arrested by security officers last Friday after participating in a small march outside Cairo calling for an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip — a closure imposed by Egypt and Israel after Hamas gunmen seized control of the Palestinian territory in June 2007.

Rizk was held in solitary confinement for four days while friends, family and German diplomats inquired about his whereabouts and the reasons for his detention. Then he was abruptly dropped off at his apartment before dawn Wednesday.

His detention reflects Egypt’s increasing sensitivity over any criticism of its policies on Gaza and Hamas. Hundreds of members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood have been jailed, along with a half dozen young vocal bloggers like Rizk who put their criticism online.

Egypt has made no official comment on Rizk’s detention, and he was never charged.

Rizk called himself lucky because he was held only a few days and wasn’t hurt, ascribing that to his dual nationality and a spirited campaign for his release conducted by friends. Human rights groups allege that torture, including sexual abuse, is commonplace for Egypt’s approximately 18,000 political prisoners.

“What happened for a period of four days is that I did nothing much more than answer questions while being interrogated, or sleeping, or trying to sleep,” the 27-year-old Rizk told reporters gathered on his balcony in a leafy suburb Thursday, his birthday.

“I was blindfolded the entire time, was wearing handcuffs the entire time except for a few occasions,” usually during questioning, he said. He added that he was allowed only one shower.

Rizk said two men questioned him repeatedly about his life, his friends and acquaintances, and his activities. When his answers displeased them, they would replace the handcuffs and make him stand, he said.

“Everything in your head, we want to take it out,” he quoted one interrogator as telling him.

Rather than physical abuse, “it was more the threats of what could happen to me if I were not to say the truth,” Rizk said.

“I heard sounds of things going on around me,” including screams, he said. “I don’t know if they were recordings or they were actually taking place — people being tortured.”

Rizk said his questioners accused him of spying for Israel and then of dealing weapons to Israel’s staunch enemy, Hamas.

Until his detention, Rizk operated a blog highlighting the plight of Palestinians called Tabula Gaza and was a graduate student in Middle East studies at the American University in Cairo.

He said that while he was in custody security officers went to his apartment and took his computers, cameras, portable hard drives and the research notes for his master’s thesis. They also broke into e-mail accounts and read all his mail, he said.

“They’ve taken my blog down which I’ve worked on since 2006. They have more control over parts of my life than I do. This is a horrible feeling. It took some time to sink in,” Rizk said.

http://wire.antiwar.com/2009/02/12/freed-blogger-describes-interrogation-in-egypt/

 

This article, which I only found yesterday, thanks to my friend Susanne, is slightly dated by a few weeks, but it is an absolutely astonishing document revealing the behind-the-scenes goings on prior to the current cease-fire in Gaza. Italian journalists of Arabmonitor, the first portal of the Arab World in Italy, have interviewed several of the key players who reveal steps Egypt has taken to block Turkey’s efforts at obtaining a ceasefire, their pressure on Hamas to “declare defeat”, the training of special troops of Dahlan in Egypt for a re-entry into Gaza, and the elation that Abu Mazen felt at the news of the assassinatin of Saed Siyam . Shocking reading….

THE EGYPTIAN NEGOTIATOR SHOUTED AT THE REPRESENTATIVES OF HAMAS: NOBODY IN THE ARAB WORLD CAN AFFORD TO SAY NO TO EGYPT
Damascus, January – The high-level representative of Hamas we had the opportunity to talk to chose to remain anonymous, considering the delicacy of the statements he had to make. With but a few hours into the assassination of Saed Siyam in the Gaza Strip and with equally short time left before the opening of the Arab-Islamic summit hosted by the Emir of Qatar, our interlocutor had been granted only two hours of sleep the previous night and his red-veined, deeply sunken eyeballs tell it all. He reveals to us that it’s not Egypt who is actually negotiating the terms of a cease-fire for Gaza, but Turkey: at least, as far as the demands from the Islamic resistance are concerned.
That is how we get to know that what the delegates of Hamas obtained from Egypt was not a draft for a cease-fire proposal, but a dictate: a lull in fighting for an initial two-weeks period, in order to allow for humanitarian aid to be distributed in the Gaza Strip and during which the terms for a durable long-term cease-fire would be negotiated. Cairo would actually opt for a twenty-years truce, but surely for nothing less than a fifteen-years duration of it, demanding at the same time the resistance to sign up on an unconditional defeat, to renounce armed struggle and refrain from military training for its members, as well as from producing and importing weapons.

During the short-term lull, the two-weeks halt of fire, there would be no opening of border crossings and even humanitarian aid allowed to pass into the Gaza Strip would do so at the discretion of Egypt and Israel.

“We thanked them, but explained that it was unacceptable. General Suleiman (head of the Egyptian intelligence) was furious and shouted: Nobody in the Arab world can afford to say no to Egypt”.

To describe the kind of game Cairo had been playing from early on in the run-up towards the Israeli aggression (starting 27 December), our interlocutor told us that on 26 December the Egyptians asked Hamas to “raise the white flag”, to declare defeat “and then we (the Egyptians) will intervene with the Israelis to guarantee your personal safety”. In any case, during this talk, which took place in the presence of some of Suleiman’s aides, the Egyptian interlocutors assured the Palestinians they had received guarantees from Israel that no military attack against Gaza was on the time-table. “In these three weeks of war there were days in which for periods of up to 48 hours they denied any passage through the Rafah crossing, even to gas canisters urgently needed by the surgical wards of Gaza hospitals.

That’s not all: since about ten days 400 of Mohammad Dahlan’s men (the former strongman of Fatah, the USA and Israel in the Gaza Strip) are guests hosted at an Egyptian military centre in al-Arish (provincial capital of Sinai), where they are being trained by Egyptians”. The plan is for these 400 to return to the Gaza Strip, if not on the back of Israeli tanks, then with the support from Egypt.

In recent days the waters of the Nile began to look very troubled, because Egypt did not appreciate at all the efforts of the Turkish delegation to mediate the terms of a cease-fire. General Suleiman initially even prevented the Turks from meeting the representatives of Hamas, demanding that he himself act as messenger between the two delegations. At a certain point, Ahmed Davotouglu, the senior advisor of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, ran out of patience and the Turkish delegation from Ankara obtained permission to access the Palestinians.

“The Turks went ahead with a quite pragmatic approach. They held out to Suleiman that the Egyptian proposal was, realistically speaking, unacceptable for us and came forward with ideas that would contain guarantees for us as well as for the Israelis. For instance, they proposed to establish a presence of international monitors directly at the crossings, in joint venture with Palestinian forces from the Authority in Gaza, who at the Rafah crossing ­ but only at the Rafah crossing ­ could also consist of a a mixed forces, that is, those of the Palestinian National Authority in addition to our own. According to the Turkish proposal, the international presence would be different from the one set up by the European Union at the Rafah crossing years ago, which practically implemented orders given by Israel through remote control by monitors. According to the new proposal, the forces at the border crossings would act as an independent authority. And again it were the Turks who proposed a time-table of possibly one year for the duration of the cease-fire. We consider Turkey a partner with whom to negotiate, because it has shown much realism”.

Among the key conditions proposed by the Palestinian Islamic resistance movement for a cease-fire there is the demand for a complete and definitive halt of the Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip, the immediate withdrawal of the invasion troops, who “could withdraw within two hours”, but whose evacuation should be accomplished latest within a couple of days, an end of the siege imposed on the area and the opening of all crossings, foremost of the Rafah crossing with Egypt.

We asked our talks partner to give us his evaluation of Abu Mazen’s performance during the present crisis. “Listen, shortly after the outbreak of the Israeli aggression he was called up on telephone by the Secretary General of the Islamic Jihad Ramadan Shallah (who lives in Syria, in exile), asking him to make a gesture and to call Ismail Haniye in Gaza, to find out what was going on. Abu Mazen rejected the plea. We know from absolutely trustworthy sources that yesterday, when news reached them at the Moqata (Abu Mazen’s seat at Ramallah) that Saed Siyam had been killed, the political leaders present, among them Abu Mazen, congratulated themselves and handed out sweets. What could I ever say, at this point?”.

Abu Mazen’s term as President of the Palestinian National Authority has expired on 9 January. “Yes, but given the current circumstances, we don’t want to create additional problems and prefer to suspend the issue until after the end of the war against Gaza, following which, last not least, we must address the task of reconstruction in Gaza”.

Our interlocutor told us that last year, ahead of the Arab League summit in Damascus, Egypt had tried by every means to persuade Palestinian Authority President to boycott the meeting, but Abu Mazen responded: “If I don’t go there, my seat will be occupied by Khaled Meshaal (head of the Political Office of Hamas)”, which was the reason why he went to Damascus (at the recent Arab-Islamic emergency meeting in Doha, from which he remained absent, the seat for the leader representing the Palestinians was indeed occupied by Meshaal).

The Europeans also, who in public always took care to present themselves as “virtuous” in avoiding any contact with Hamas, during the past weeks held more than once talks with the Palestinian Islamic Resistance. “Some of them approached us to express their negative feelings over the fact that we, according to them, refused to abide by the existing cease-fire. When we pointed out to them, that is was in fact Israel who violated the cease-fire by refusing to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip, these countries slipped away.

However, three European countries kept the lines open and we are still in contact with them. They offered their help to find a way out of the crisis. I can’t tell you the names of two of them, only that they are European Union members, one of them a leading power, and the other one driven by an ambitious policy. The third one to offer us their help is Norway”.

Nevertheless, on the American front some interesting developments are coming up. Daniel Kurtzer, former US Ambassador to Israel, who is quite close to Barack Obama’s team, has met twice “as a private citizen” with Hamas leaders. His aim was to “pick up ideas”. The two talks took place in spring 2008 and then again last November, following Obama’s electoral victory. And then, how could we fail to recall that former US President Jimmy Carter had asked for a personal encounter with Khaled Meshal, and with other figures from the Hamas leadership, in April last year as well as in November.

source:

http://www.cbs.com/thunder/swf30can10cbsnews/rcpHolderCbs-3-4×3.swf
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