On the 21st of August 2013, I woke up early morning on news that Assad regime used chemical weapons in east Ghouta in Damascus countryside. Footages of suffocating children and people searching for their love ones started to pour on my screen as I started to cry for the first time in about 6 months of numbness and despair. Infants and adults were fighting for another grasp of air between their violent spasms, and I was in ruins. To feel this helpless and anger was beating me down.
Since the revolution started I knew exactly what it was about. It was about dignity. People in Syria roared:” Rather Death than Humiliation.” Do you want to know what humiliation? The humiliation of living in poverty as a group of corrupted villains took what is rightfully yours and you can’t do anything about it. Humiliation for being arrested and tortured for the most simple reasons like trying to help a man hit by a car in the middle of the street, or trying to organize a group to spread awareness for the dangers of smoking, or trying to start a book club, or learn your prohibited mother tongue. The humiliation of being animalized each and every single day. The humiliation for trying to do the good thing, help your citizens. Is that a crime? To demand the right for better education and a better life. To get back our right of speech and express our opinions. The right to choose your own politicians and be an active part in determining your country’s future. It is a crime for just wanting to be you, and just to dare to dream.
For 40 years, Assad regime was dehumanizing everyone in Syria. You are a good citizen when you rat out your neighbors. You are a good citizen when you prevent your family from there share in the heritage by giving corrupted judges their cut. You are a good citizen when you do everything you can to climb up on the shoulders of other men and women. You are a good citizen when you terrorize people to submission. A good citizen is a humiliating life we take.
All what we wanted to is to come together and step up into a new age, an age that is characterized by the diversity and beauty of our country. We wanted more freedoms and rights for all. It was never personal, it was legitimate and right. And Syrians singed and danced for freedom and dignity. The following video is from the grand protests of Hama on the 17th of July 2011, Syrians called that Friday Saleh al-Ali Friday. Saleh al-Ali is was a prominent Syrian Alawi leader that commanded of the Syrian Revolt of 1919. Syrians were calling their Alawi brothers and sister to join their revolution, just like they did in the old days.
Well, some did. Bashar Assad family is an Alawite, and many preferred to stick to him, unfortunately, as a functional group.
But the slogan Syrians chose to mark the goal of their revolution proved to be true, and death happened. The Assad supporters from different sects replied by:” Assad or we will burn the country,” and they did. Strange masochist and sadistic acts started to come from these supporters. They kissed military boots in public, danced in the aftermath of every massacre and praised the name of the tyrant. Long years of endoctrined dehumanization created such creatures. For them, to be a patriotic is to be a slave.
For the past about 3 years, we were introduced to hell, and I became certain that hell is now, it’s here and it is people, not in a place in the afterlife. Hell is when your own kind seeing joy and victory by killing you in the most primitive ways. All killing and humiliating tools invented in Human history from stone age to chemical age were used excessively. Children were slaughtered like sheep, women were raped, and men became projects for organ trade. And when people decided to defend themselves after repeatedly calling upon their human brothers and sisters to stand in solidarity with them, it was in vain. So guess why people carried weapons?
They’re Animals, Let Them Kill Each Other
But not only did the Syrian regime tried to dehumanize us, many around the world too. The Syrian revolution was never recognized as a people’s aspiration for liberty. Our revolution never got the respect and glory it deserves like Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Tunisia. But I really don’t know who is classifying our work and us? Do we need to care about this classification by foreigners? It makes you angry when you hear someone talk about your people by saying: They are animals, let them kill each other. It shows you how previous genocides happened.
Isn’t this an arrogant and racist view of us by others? To consider us below liberty seekers’ level. What hits on my nerves is insisting on comparing us to Iraq and Afghanistan, and it is clearly no similarities here. Just another attempt to classify and box us. I don’t think that I like being a jerk global citizen.
We called for help in peaceful means, we never wanted any strikes and troops on our lands. We cried for a no fly-zone when Assad started to use his warplanes and ballistic missiles killing few hundreds in each attacks. We even did not get a proper humanitarian aid. Most countries closed its borders in our faces, made it difficult for a Syrian to get a residency, a scholarship, a job or even a shelter. Why was we treated in this way? Is the world also telling us that we chose death, and if we want to stay alive then we need to be humiliated? I always remember one of my friends describing human rights in the world by: Shut the F*** up. We are just Guinea Pigs for weapon’s experiments, product experiments, medical experiments. In the Syrian genocide, I saw it all.
Let me bring here one of my paragraphs I wrote in one of my old articles published by World Pulse:
“Until now, the international community has not admitted that there is a revolution in Syria. Instead, they call it a crisis, a conflict. This is a forgery of people’s demands for their basic human rights. To call what Syrians are facing by any other name only allows the international community to escape the responsibility of protecting civilians. In some ways, these erroneous definitions give an excuse to Assad to erase his opponents—thousands of peaceful Syrians. Describing the situation in Syria as a fight between the regime and groups of armed opposition leaders is a dwarfing of Syria’s aspirations for freedom. And it is an easy excuse for the international community to overlook its humanitarian responsibility to protect human beings. It halts Syrians from being able to achieve a long-awaited democracy. Aren’t Syrians worthy of democracy?”
Now tell me why should I care about you when you are hit by a bus, or when you have no electricity or water or food, or when you are battered all day by a low paid job with reduced benefits, or when something tragic happens to you in any way. You never cared about me and my people, give me a reason why should I care about you?
Stand in Solidarity
Everyone is talking about the strike, and I really think that we need to hinder Assad’s ability to use lethal weapons against civilians, especially chemical weapons and ballistic missiles. Many of my friends are revolutionary dreamers want to free their country by their own hands and celebrate their dignified liberty. Again, the entire situation in Syria came to this: Death or Humiliation. To die all together, or accept this last slap of humiliation before we try to regain our dignity in the Syrian post-apocalypse phase. We are not stupid, we know we will not be helped because we are loved or because the world is genuinely concerned for our souls. But sometimes politics might be on your side just like that. We are perfectly aware that chaos will come next, and there are many hard times we will pass through. There are many warlords and mercenaries we must deal with, from political to military to media.
For me, it is related to the millions dying from hunger, oppression and displacement. It is related to those who are drowning in the sea everyday as they try to flee to Europe. It is related to thousands of kids who are begging in the streets of the world. And it has to do with all the promising women and men that are dying and in detentions. It has to do with thousands of people who are disabled, and thousands who do not know where their love ones are. It has to do with trying to mourn and bury our dead without running like roaches from a cemetery because a warplane has arrived. That’s it. And this will not happen unless Assad and his supporters go away, there is no escape. All peaceful solutions were neglected by these criminals.
Syrians need to stand in solidarity now more than ever. In two years we learnt all kinds of tricks played on us by Assad regime, Arab and regional regimes, and international community. We have only us, and we must stick together.
We need to work together to ensure that we will never again choose between humiliation and death.