Some Stories Were Never Meant For Children: Syria

 

 

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ياللي صامد باليرموك

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Sulaima: A Syrian Woman Activism in The Face of Sociopolitical Adversity

Estayqazat استيقظَت Youtube channel.

 

Sulaima, an animation short movie telling the story of choices taken by a Syrian wife and mother. This animated documentary presents a real-life testimony of a Syrian middle aged woman living in Damascus suburbs, who took the hard path of activism in a country where women are deliberately targeted and humiliated to silence the collective voice and keep society obedient.

This movie created by Syrian filmmaker Jalal Maghout, shows that the activism of women was against all layers of the patriarchal system dominating the Syrian society. The shift of awareness in the minds of many Syrian women created a level of rare courage and solid determination to rip off all the veils forced over them, forcing their feminine identities to be considered.

In the course of the Syrian changing tragedy, from the uprising to genocide, to civil war ending with a state of collective suicide, proxy war and massive displacement, the voice of Syrian women was a parameter for the shape and velocity of every stage in the Syrian ordeal.

You can watch the touching movie here.

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The Problem of Assad Crimes Apologists

One of my friends posted in his Facebook page news about the latest Assad atrocities; the post was about the bombardment of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo. One of the responses first came as a denial to the entire episode and an accusation to media for reversing facts. However, when evidences became clear that Assad-Russian warplanes did target the hospital, the person who tried to negate the news moved into another wave: If Assad is gone, then who will protect us from terrorism?

I believe when someone wants to be protected from a terrorist criminal then the destination is an entity that applies law, not another criminal or a totalitarian regime that uses terrorism for gains.

Regardless of the identity of this person, but his opinion is a conversation that we read in many mainstream and social media pages. Such opinion doesn’t come from a logical thinking, it comes from irrational and impulsive attitude toward a nation that suffered too long from the evils of a dictatorship, a nation that is now torn apart by the iron bloody hand of tyranny, and led to a horrible agony that will last for generations. One might think that witnessing such crimes, we expect that a normal human being in a globalized world will scream: No more, rid us of such evil. Some want such evil to endure, not because it will fight terrorism, but it will rid them the headache of thinking about the pains of others, will grant them relief from worrying. These careless people might claim that they don’t want to add troubles to their daily struggles, yes the threshold of stamina varies from one person to another and it is understood when one has too much to worry about in life, but in this case a silent stand by a tired person is better than directing anger and hatred toward innocents share the same daily life worries with others in the world, and daily worries for their own lives. Most people who blabber in such manner are not even Syrians. They are practicing a democracy of imposing a regime on other nations, and when a Syrian, like the writer of this blog, tries to have a conversation with these people, they always draw their most beloved weapons: media they themselves always accused of distorting the truth!

Every crime in Syria is turned into a political ceremony, what we are trying to do is to clear the “political debate” away from humanitarian issues. It seems that Assad apologists cannot handle the separation between what is political and what is humanitarian. But it also seems to me that our world is turning into more unjust place by measuring humanitarian values with political or economic scales. If continued, then this growing habit will deprive us from hope in restoring our dignity and bringing criminals to justice. The likes of Assad crimes apologists are the vanguards of such world.

 

In solidarity with all nations fighting for their dignity.

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Is Burning Aleppo A Reaction To The Failing Geneva Talks?

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Man covered in dust after an airstrike by Assad regime and its allies – Aleppo

Aleppo – once more than five million people lived in it, now no more than 1 million –  is witnessing a savage attacks by Assad regime, number of people killed estimated by 200, not mentioning the injured and missing under rubble. A Doctors Without Borders hospital was attacked and the last paediatrician was killed. Even the people who chose to stay in their homes, or those who wanted to stay to help the remaining people are targeted. I don’t know, is this an for evacuating an entire country?

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I seriously lost track of what all these parties involved in Syria want! Everyday I read countless analyses and conversations, and yet no tangible reasonable or logic actions are decided or taken. Nothing is clear but the absurdity of the work of international institutions. If the Russians want to demonstrate power, then all what we see is barbarity, if Iranians seek interests, all what we see is cold blooded crimes, if Assad wants to stay as the head of the country..what country? A mass of rubble, corpses, burnt houses and mushrooming armed militias. If Saudis want an upper hand, why aren’t they play a clever role than just pumping money here and there, they should support people rather than their loyal armed fractions in Syria. All what Turkey wants is keeping Kurds under control. Everyone lost any sense of direction. The burning of Aleppo came after the trembling of Geneva talks and promises that UN will deal with it if nothing came out of it.

Civilians, hospitals, homes, schools, markets and bakeries, all turned into objects for a scorched land policy if one party did not get what it want! Is this what diplomacy about, using the innocent for political purposes!

Many humanitarian and media institutions have lost their integrity to point at the criminals who are lingering this atrocity. We do need to stop and contemplate in such a world we live in, no one will be spared from such mentality.

My throat was ripped off, I can hardly scream.

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One Peaceful Village is Attacked Again

For two days now I am getting news that my village Basofan again, located on Lelun Mountain near Afrin in Aleppo countryside, is being shelled by rebel groups. This peaceful place was never part of the war took place in Syria, most of its residents are Kurdish Yazidis, few remained in the village as the majority chose to leave to Germany including many of my family members.

The village is located in a historic area, and attacking it with mortars just to destroy its empty houses and kill the elders remained there with their animals, is outrageous and mad.

It seems that the brotherhood with our fellow citizens was destroyed and relinquished by sectarian minds, and by hearts made ill by illusions of power.

I don’t understand why we Kurds are excluded from being one pillar of the formation of Syria’s future. We wanted to fight together, we wanted to stand beside each other, a dream undermined by blind hatred.

It breaks my heart as an activist and a human to see what hatred is doing to us.

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A Short Introduction on Modern Syrian Theatre

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Scene from famous play Ghurbeh (Exile) performed in 1976.

Syria is known for being one pillar for theatre in the Arab World. Theatre in the Levant started with a group of pioneering dramatists like Marun Al Naqqash, Adib Isaac and Abu Khalil Al Qabbani among few others who set the motion for new movement in theatre and musicals in MENA. Abu Khalil Al Qabbani is considered the father of Syrian theatre, one of his first plays is called: The Ungrateful Man (Nakir Al Jameel). He wrote some plays and adapted others from western works. In the beginning, he performed in Damascus and attracted decent audience, but the extremists of that time forced him to put an end to his works in Damascus. He moved to Alexandria-Egypt with his company where he worked there for several years, he died in Damascus in 1903.

Before Abu Khalil Al Qabbani, the only actual entertainment shows were roaming puppet shows (Karagoz and Hacivat puppets) and storytelling in cafes (mainly historic).

A number of theatre companies were formed after the death of Abu Khalil Al Qabbani, but the second rise of theatre in Syria came in 1912 with Abdul Wahhab Abu Al Su’ud who started his own company, Abu Al Su’ud was accompanied by translator and writer M’aroof Al Arna’ut. Most plays used Arab Islamic heritage as a source for its subjects and plots, as well as political situation like the Ottoman empire at that time, and afterwards the French colonization. The director is usually the one who takes care of all arrangements related to the show like writing the script, training actors and promoting the show. Women remained absent from taking part on stage due to religious and social consequences till the 1950’s, before that date most female parts were performed by men.

A more serious movement of the Syrian theatre started in the second half of the 20th century when the Nationalist Company was founded under the umbrella of The Ministry of Culture, taking the stage from a random scattered performances controlled by individuals into a financially supported and technically organized one. After the defeat of 1967 before Israel, a new kind of art was crystalized in MENA which is the Committed Art: Any form of artistic expression that is committed to the cause of land rights and way of life, and theatre was part of it.

Between the 60’s and 90’s, Syrian theatre witnessed an unprecedented surge of plays and thoughts. Famous names like Saadallah Wannous, Muhammad Al Maghut and Mamdouh Adwan shined as playwrights as their works were transformed into timeless performances in Syria and touched the conscious of many generations. Their works discussed political and social matters.

Baath Party came a time when theatre was already in on the rise, many of the writers were politically oppressed, but their production continued till their death. The atmosphere of oppression in Syria prevented any authentic artistic production in theatre, as the elite continued performing foreign plays, mainly taken from former Soviet Union regions. Since the 80’s, TV became the main destination for anyone who works in arts field for making a living. Although many efforts continued to revive the stage, but most productions were either without any message or the message was politically guided by authorities.

The purpose of writing this introduction is because I wanted to look into a question the stagnant status of a form of art I love, after I watched a Syrian play entitled: Under The Sky (The show took place in Dubai on the 17th, 18th and 19th of February 2016). The play was a long heartbreaking monologue of a mother who lost her children in the first stage of Syrian uprising before the burst of civil war, we can describe it as a humanitarian play; it’s message is: No one wins or lose in war, this is death.

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Scene from the play Under The Sky preformed in 2016.

The performance of the actress Yara Sabri was moving, I was a bit shaken in the beginning by the intensity of the introduction and the pain that haunts me as a Syrian, but the monologue went through a stereotypical course. The idea did not look beyond our situation in 2013, however, this is understood as I don’t believe that a single work can trace all transformations and tragedy of 5 years of war when hundred of thousands of art works were made for each and every nuance of it.

Syrian theatre still uses recitative tool for expression, not argumentative nor controversial one, it does not tackle thoughts that we took for granted, which I believe this is the main rule of art beside maintaining our empathy in the face of modern distractions, and not mere entertainment.

For me, theatre seems the last resort to watch untainted raw acting, no matter how much special effects are introduced but the stage is the measure for quality of a performed thought.

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P.S. I was questioning my legitimate use of Syria before 1916, because the area was part of the Ottoman empire before that.

 

 

 

 

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رسالة المحاصر في مضايا: الانتحار ولا الجوع

صحافة غير منضبطة

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انتهى النهار ببيان توضيحي طويل لحزب الله حول حصار مضايا، وباعلان عن موعد غامض لارسال المساعدات اليها، وعلى الهاتف يصلني صوت صديقي اليومي من مضايا وقد ترك عدة رسائل خلال النهار.

“اخي كيفكم؟ اليوم اتت الموافقة من النظام (السوري) على ادخال المساعدات الى مضايا، في الصباح وقبل الخبر كانت وجوه الناس صعبة التفسير كما يقال، وجوه سوداء، مقلوبة، ولا تحمل الا الهم، بعد الظهر انقلبت الامور رأسا على عقب، فلم تبق بندقية في مضايا لدى السكان لم يطلق منها الرصاص ابتهاجا”.

“بالامس لم اخبرك، ولكنني كنت واثق بان الاطفال لن يصمدوا اكثر من ايام قليلة، كنت اعتقد بانهم سيموتون قريبا كلهم، والان تغير الوضع، على امل ان تدخل المساعدات غدا او بعد غد”.

“منشان الله اذا عم خبرك لا تضحكوا علينا، اليوم مررت باطفال في الشارع، كانوا قد حصلوا على شتول للزراعة، وهي مليئة بالوحل، وراحوا يأكلونها، سألت احدهم عما يفعله، فاجابني: سأموت من الجوع، منذ يومين لم…

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Starvation War and Another Star Extinguished by ISIS

 

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The Starvation of Madaya

Again, the tactic of starvation is used in Syria. The city of Madaya is besieged is starved to death now by Assad puppet regime and its allies. Again the world is silent, and again the crimes against humanity is immune, the political game in Syria has so much powerful impunity that we were introduced to unimaginable barbarity and brutality.

People in the city of Madaya are starved to kneel. Syrians in Madaya are walking skeletons, eating cats, dogs and other animals, eating tree leaves, and having water and dried mint soup!

Do I dare to call for justice anymore? Do I dare to demand holding those responsible for such crimes accountable? Or the game requires in Syria inhuman measures to be set? Is it too late now after many major states on earth are taking a part in the death machine?

Calling upon humanitarian organisations to take aid and food to Madaya as soon as possible. We will always shout for justice from the deepest corners in our throats.

 

 

The Assassination of Nissan Ibrahim

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Nissan Ibrahim

She was the first woman civil journalist to document ISIS crimes in the city of Raqqah-Syria, and she was assassinated by ISIS for exposing their horrid actions and twisted ideology. She did it while taking a fake name “Nissan” which is also my first name.

This brave young woman held a degree in philosophy. She devoted herself to the values she believed in, and to shatter ISIS stands and values in the areas where the terrorist group occupy in Syria. ISIS is a plague tearing up communities apart with sick hatred and criminal dogma.

We lost many courageous men and women in this war who died for their beliefs and visions of a better future. We write about them so words would preserve their flame among us.

Rest in peace Nissan.

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Do Not Let the Refugees Fall into Void

Syrian-Refugee

Reuters: A Syrian refugee holding a baby in an inflated tube

Almost three months passed since the world was horrified when the picture of Syrian Kurdish 3-year-old Alan Kurdi emerged on media showing his lifeless small body laying peacefully on the sand in a serene eternal sleep. The child drowned in the Mediterranean Sea with his older brother when their family was trying to reach a better place after their home in Kobani – Syria was stormed by ISIS. The young soul’s ordeal started an international movement for refugees pouring into Europe, and by fewer numbers into other parts of the world. The story of Alan is only one among thousands of stories that passed unnoticed.

No Syrian wanted to leave home. We thought that we will build a better country for us, we thought we are passing to the future, we wanted to stay here in our homes and regain some of our rights. For five years we called for no-fly zones to protect some towns and establish safe shelters for refugees. Many times we called for humanitarian corridors, but our voices were ignored. Over and over again, we said that all this destruction will create a void, and inside the nothingness, extremists, killers and thugs will lurk and consume people’s hope. After years of war, desperation drove thousands to search for alternative ways to live peacefully and preserve what is left of their dignity.

Thousands of lives were shattered, despair crawled deep into our spirits. Syrian children are suffering from fear and anxiety, adults from fear and gloomy tomorrow. According to UNHCR, there are more than 4.2 million Syrian registered refugees, 2.1 million in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, and 1.9 million in Turkey. About 26,700 are registered in North Africa. Between 2011 and Oct 2015, the number of Syrian asylum application in Europe reached 681,713 distributed mainly between Germany, Sweden, Serbia, Kosovo, Hungary, Austria, Netherlands and Bulgaria, and other countries. OCHA estimates the number of total displaced Syrians about 10.8 million of the country’s 22 million population. These numbers were registered in mid 2014, which means now that the majority of Syrian population are fleeing for their lives. Without mentioning the thousands killed, disappeared and arrested.

After waiting for so long, and as the world started to forget what Syrians are going through, people decided to take matters into their hands and seek for themselves for their rights to have a normal, safe and decent lives, similar to millions of people around the world. Syrians marched, they found a way. Everyday, rubber boats carry dozens in a life threatening journey in the Mediterranean Sea from Turkey’s shores to Greek’s Islands. Many used their life’s savings to take a one-way ticket toward either a new life or toward death. Refugees packed the remnants of their past and set off for the unknown.

When my brother decided to take the journey of death we didn’t try to persuade him to stay, the choice is either taking the risk in the sea or engage in a bloody war. He climbed over a rubber boat with dozens of men, women and children. On the way from Turkey to Greece, the boat stopped in the middle of the sea, and the young men in the boat stroke the water back to the Turkish shores, fixed the boat and tried again. They reached a Greek island by dawn, and from there my brother got help from a group of monks in that island, a Greek female doctor welcomed him and his friends in her own house, and others on his way to Sweden where he is trying his best today to show that he is a good samaritan. Such actions of altruism presented to many refugees in their long journeys manifest the essence of humanity. We are grateful for the humans in Europe and around the world who cried for us, those who welcomed them in their homes, those who greeted them in bus and train stations, those who shared the journey with them taking aid and water. These actions revealed to us what could the future of humanity would look like, a future we wish to witness one day.

These refugees are searching for a life, and it is not easy to replace all what one has ever knew, it is not easy to start over again, to try to heal and forget, this needs courage, and cannot be done without compassion.

Preventing the people from seeking their right in having a stable life is not an answer to stop the madness, on the contrary, keeping refugees in the nothingness will make them lose faith in a sympathetic and human world, keeping people in the limbo does not solve any issue, shutting them out behind TV screens and just observing their agony will shatter all of the promises of a better world for us. Inclusion and empathy is the only response to fight fear. People are living under terrorism everyday in Syria, trying to survive and find a meaning and an answer for why all this is happening to us in the post “Never Again” era?

Placing the blame of criminal actions committed by few terrorists on the shoulders the victims will empower the criminals. Doubting the just cause of the refugees will make those carrying hatred smile in their shameful victory. Instead of pushing the refugees back to where they will be used, exploited and killed, they must be welcomed, they must be shown that there is a way to practice their humanity and be worthy to have an equal opportunity to live in our global community.

The way this world deals with refugees’ crisis is not specific to Syrians, it will send a message to the entire world regarding the world’s current stand to human rights. Our war today is not a war of religions, races and nations, our war in this age is to preserve the human values and principles many men and women fought for through history till today, by their great achievement and simple heroic daily actions, in order to reach equal opportunities for all and seek a better day for the entire world.

What is left for us Syrians right now is to fight the void where nothing grows there but hatred and insanity represented by criminals continue to kill and spread grudges mercilessly and tirelessly all around the world. What you can do now is help the rest of us to fight this void by empathy and preserving the values of democracy, liberty, equality, and dignity, through lighting a candle in your heart so we can all pass into a better humanity.

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