Five years after the first demonstrations in Syria, the activists Ameenah Sawwan thinks back to the beginnings of the revolution and also sees the numerous demonstrations of the last weeks. The civil society is not dead, she concludes.
Five years ago, we were told not to have high expectations or ambitions in Syria. It seems that we had a roof up our heads to remind us all the time with the maximum level of thinking which we needed to be sticking to. So, it seemed that we were living without even having the chance of hearing our own voices. If you gave the life in Syria back then a general look, you might say it was a normal one, but under that life we had detentions drowned in darkness. Places that might reach ten floors under the ground.
You are safe if you live without thinking, but if thought and then decided to do the taboo in Syria which is speaking out loud what you have in mind, you’ll be lost in darkness. So, yes it was a normal life on the surface!
Forty five years were gone of the Syrian history and everything in Syria was under the control of one family. We had Assad, the father and Assad, the son. The suppression was increasing and people out of Syria were thinking that the severe oppression in will prevent Syrians from the change’s demands. Till one day, when we witnessed Egypt toppling the regime of Mubarak which ruled egypt for almost three decades. I still remember that day clearly, the eleventh of February 2011. The people of Egypt succeed in overthrowing the regime that holded Egypt for the longest presidential term in Egypt’s history. The windows in our house were closed that day by my mom, fearful lady like any other parents in Syria, who raised us with fear witnessing the rule of two Assad’s generations. My mom always told us not to have any political discussion with anybody out the walls of our place. My mom closed the windows and started dancing, clapping and ululating. – In Arab countries ululation is commonly used to express celebration – that day we celebrated the feeling of freedom in our house for the first time.
Many people thought at the beginning that the Syrian revolution is a copy the other revolutions in the Arab world, but this is totally incorrect. Syria a very specific situation which pushed the people to be unintentionally ready for a change which was demanded years ago. People had been fed up with injustice and all what the regime needed to do is one more mistake.
The regime’s intelligence branch in Daraa, Syria, arrested a group of young school’s’ students who wrote on the wall of their school similar slogans to the ones used previously in Egypt and Tunisia demonstrations. Despite the fact that they were children – but the regime’s intelligence members are not the right people to show some mercy- the children’s bodies were burnt in some parts and their nails were uprooted.
The revolution started since then and the Syrian people were clear with their demands. They said it out loud and clear “ Enough with Assad “ in hundreds and hundreds of demonstrations around Syria. The peaceful demonstrations were responded by the regime with live ammunition and hundreds were arrested since the first four months and dozens were killed.
The road was really tiring and long for Syrians but the expectations were extremely high in the first year. Syrian people thought that the regime will be under the international community pressure to leave after seeing nearly one million demonstrators demanding for change.
The time went by and the regime had almost the complete comfort to react violently to the peaceful chants. The regime’s brutality highly increased and many massacres were committed in different Syrian cities and towns. The number of political detainees reached unbelievable numbers. Syrians raised voices again and again but nothing serious to mention was done by the international community to stop the bloodshed. Some Syrians lost hope then in getting any international support, so the Free Syrian Army was established by officers who quitted the regime’s army, the ones who refused to join the regime with committing war crimes. Since the middle of 2012, the regime was even more creative with human rights violations, so the regime put many areas under siege and the starvation was used as a war weapon, barrel bombs and all different kinds of aerial shelling were used and nobody could imagine that things could get worse, but then the chemical massacre happened away from the middle of capital only around 7 kilometers.
More Syrians were killed by the collation which was established to fight ISIS and extremism and then more were killed by the Russian airstrikes and openly Iran and Hezbollah were there to support Assad from the very beginning in 2011.
Five years have passed and everybody is trying to cover up what really happened and is still happening in Syria. They want Syria to turn into black and then they can be satisfied with their scenarios about extremism and Syria being a field for a civil war but they are not going to be able to hide the truth which is as clear as the sun.
Syrians, in their long journey to get their rights have witnessed disappointments, loss, and a lot more. Syrians have got the chance to know each other and they have seen the good parts in them and on the other hand, they were able to see the real faces of the world.
Syrians are not the victims that everybody wants to take over their lead and manipulates their fate. They are not only the people who are being killed to be dealt with as numbers “ number of people were killed by shelling, number of Syrian refugees were drowned in the sea and number of detainees.” Syrians are still alive and they still want what they have asked for in 2011.
They are the doctors in the field hospitals who are keeping Syrians alive. They are the Syrian civil defense who are risking their lives to protect others and they are the citizen journalists and reporters who are doing their best to highlight the truth.
Syrians are the civilians who are sharing their last amount of food under siege and shelling and Syrians are the teachers who are volunteering to teach the children under siege and doing their best to feed their minds even though they can’t feed their stomachs. They are the refugees who are still holding Syria inside their hearts wherever they are going and trying to show the best in them to the whole world. They are all still believeing in peaceful resistance after all the violence they were forced to witness. The Syrian people who needed to get their chance, the chance that they have never had.
Two weeks ago and under the ceasefire, the demonstrations shouted out from under the rubbles all over again. The aerial shelling stopped even though the regime did many violations for the ceasefire in different areas. But, that didn’t prevent people from chanting all over again for dignity and freedom.
The revolution flag was all over Syria in the last two fridays and the black flags that the regime and regime’s supporting entities wanted them to look as if they belong to the revolutionaries just disappeared!
The colour that they tried to make Syria stick to for the last 3 years was demolished in two days and by hundreds of peaceful demonstrations. The Syrian revolution is still alive against all the faces of oppression in Syria.And if you are not able to see it after all, that would be because you don’t want to.
Ameenah Sawwan is an activists from Moadamieh, a suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus. There she participated in protests and activities of the Revolution against Assad dictatorship. Her hometown is besieged for more than three years, in August 2013 it was target of a large-scale chemical attack.
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