Few days ago, one well known Syrian activist wrote: “It became impossible hard to get a fund to establish a new civil group.” The funding is probably going to military groups despite the calls of civil society in Syria for more support and funding. Many projects of civil society started in the past 4 years, few survived, and the most effective were the small local groups.
When the Syrian uprising started in 2011, the few traditional activists who dared to oppose the situation in Syria during Assad rule joined the new activists who dared to go to beyond words and opinions by organizing protests and revolutionary activities. Many were new to the experience of activism and civil society as such notions were prohibited by Assad regime. Each activist worked according to his/her experience and capabilities. At first it was glorious and unbelievable. Some activists declared their real identities and many of them became well known, others preferred to take cover under anonymity, both stands were understood, but all paid a hefty price for this. Many activists lived inside Syria were either killed, imprisoned, kidnapped, or displaced. Their families also suffered with them as family members were taken hostage and tortured till the wanted activist surrenders, but no one will be freed. While those outside (like me) risked their right of returning into Syria, and the lives of their families and friends. International Organizations hesitated to support these activists in the first year of revolution because they didn’t understand that no possibility of civil work was happening in Syria before, Syrians didn’t know how to write proposals and raise funds and advocate, they learned all this in the hard way.
In the beginning, there was a surge of revolutionary energy among us, inside and outside, created a chain of people working together for change. But after 4 years, maybe more years to come, violence by Syrian regime and the resulted extremist groups chased away whoever still work for justice, equality and freedom. Syrian activists became chased, broken, forgotten and away from everything they love. Many lost their future, dropped out of their universities and schools, lost their homes, lost their jobs and exploited by media. Many of them lost their balance because of the fame, some went through depression, some were turned into strangers in different countries, and some still have the heart and soul to work through the grim reality they never expected to occur.
Breaking the civil activists led to breaking a great possibility of change into a better Syria. Assad regime and its allies were keen to do this. Still, it is not fair to exclude entire groups of people were and still active in coping with the apocalyptic life inside and outside Syria. To live in such situation became an act of activism and resistance. Every Syrian was forced to turn into an activist in way or another as support is withering and attention in the Syrian genocide is fading. As if this is some entertaining media event that lasted for so long and it is getting low views nowadays, this is how we feel our cause is treated like.
Nonetheless, as I said: Our cause, which means our responsibility. Many people are still resisting until Syria is free from lies and tyranny, there are new humans brewing under the ordeal.
It is painful but we still have hope, hope that we cannot go on living and working without it.