Activists in exile Syria’s forgotten citizens’ movement

Posted on September 20, 2012


Many of the Syrians and Syrian women, who were at the start of the protest movement, had to flee the country. They are not only fighting against the regime, but also against the marginalization of their movement within the opposition.
Monika Bolliger, Amman and Beirut

In a café in Amman a merry group sits mostly young Syrians, has a laptop on his knees, another stares into his iPad. You just joking about Islamists and the fact that the media reported on anything else in Syria. They are all from Daraa, the cradle of the revolution, as they call it. The serene atmosphere is deceptive. Each carries its own heavy memories. Arish only arrived two days ago from Syria. She reports from everyday life under the bombs, while she pulls on her cigarette. “We have become accustomed to,” says the young woman. “And that’s troubling.”
Displaced intellectuals

The attacks were in Daraa completely degenerated and survival is left to chance, says Arish. She is worried about the long term effects of violence on the population, especially the children. Nevertheless, she wants to return. They had only come to accompany a friend, she says. You do not stand it here. The feeling of being out there and watch making, all to create. They fled for treatment of an injury or to escape the arrest or the targeted killing. “The regime wants us to get rid of intellectuals,” says Yadan. They talk about the early return.

They tell how the uprising in Daraa was peaceful for long. As they fought, as an alleged Salafist appeared in their environment and wanted to distribute weapons. They are convinced that he worked for the Syrian intelligence, who wanted to provoke an armed Islamist uprising in order to support him then further suppress the population. “Meanwhile, there are really armed Islamists in Syria,” says Yadan. “They get money and arms, while our citizens movement alone.” They are angry at the insurgents from Homs, which had gripped much too early to arms – and the media who reported only after the fighting in Homs.

The group breaks up for the Red Crescent hospital, where she visited a friend. The 24-year Odey is almost two months ago escaped from Daraa to be treated gunshot wounds to his legs. He filmed the fighting between rebels and army Asad. As a civilian was hit by a sniper, and he wanted to help, he was also shot. He was hiding, was found and paid the equivalent of CHF 500 bribe to avoid arrest. The rebels helped to escape by him along with about 300 others – especially families – from one safe house to the next and then brought to the Jordanian border police handed.
Selectively helping Islamists

Odey was finally with the help of the organization “Doctors without Borders” operated for the first time after he had been put off in a Jordanian hospital with a pair of crutches. “If I had an Islamist, I would have easily found support,” he says. Islamist organizations contributed selective assistance. This also applied to the inside. He had defended his group’s support for an Islamist party, because it was conditional. “They wanted to treat us like employees,” he indignantly.

They had in Daraa finally built without help from abroad a functioning civil society, including a hospital. “We had doctors, journalists, lawyers, and more.” The Syrian National Council, the official body of the opposition in exile, helped them one iota. Annoyed, he is also on the strategy of armed insurgents. It makes no sense to exempt individual district or towns that would be bombed. “The rebels are to protect the civilian population there, not to use them as a shield,” he says.

The development of the Syrian uprising has cost the opposition sympathies also. The strategy of the regime to divide the country and to militarize the insurgency is, in many places risen, despite efforts to the contrary witted activists. Those Syrians who waited until now to take a position without, are not necessarily encouraged by the prospects for the future, which give them the enemies of the regime. Sami, a young Damascene, who sympathized with the revolutionaries at the beginning, is now angry at all. “The regime is completely useless, but his opponents will produce anything better,” he grumbles. How many Syrians who are still in the country, as he thought, is difficult to say. But there are likely to be numerous, especially in Damascus and Aleppo.
No more answers

Those activists who stood for peaceful protests, have trouble with the armed insurgency. But the basic gist is that this has become inevitable. This view also Orwa, a young author from Damascus, who is originally from Daraa. He fled to Lebanon five months ago. He wrote the puppet “Top Goon,” which pokes fun at the dictator Asad and in numerous episodes is available on Youtube. The series has become famous as a form of non-violent cultural resistance.

The new episodes are darker and do not spray more of the hope of a speedy change. Two of his colleagues are Orwa has separated because they called on a video for revenge on Asad. “There is a difference between self-defense and the call to violence,” he says. He himself had to deal with the feelings about the loss of his close people. A good friend of his was killed in a protest in Daraa before his eyes.

On the degree of violence that would happen to them that he had at the beginning had only a vague idea. “Our generation has not witnessed the massacre in Hama in 1982,” he says. Orwa was arrested and tortured. In prison, they were twelve of us in a small room and heard the screams of the tortured. “What saved us, humor and love.” He remembers how in the cell one by one began to tell his love story. People who fought with conviction for something were to break under torture less, he observes. But since Orwa left the country, he, like all other quarrels with himself, “I’m at a point where I have no more answers, ‘he confessed. He wants to return to Syria, but he’s scared. “I was always afraid, but in the protests, I began to confront them. Was shot, sometimes I was relieved because we would either die or escape. Death is not as bad as the torture in prison. ”

Of the torture all have to report. Shadi from Damascus, also fled to Lebanon shows scars on his hands. He was co-organizer of the first demonstration in Damascus. He had been in custody since 2008 and over again, because he stood up for human rights. 53 of his friends had died in the meantime, he says. About the strengthened Islamist movements in Syria, he is not pleased. He and his friends initially had founded a group of atheists for the revolution. Shadi has restless. When asked if he could sleep, he shakes his head. In Beirut, he works as a journalist and organized support for refugees.
Herculean tasks

The group in Amman trying to help refugees and to organize themselves, while some plan to return to Syria. “A couple of my guys tomorrow fly to Istanbul for a course in journalism,” says Abu Alaa, who is slightly older than the others in the round. Some of the participants wanted then to Syria. A more professional reporting is urgently necessary. Those who had taught at the beginning of information to the television station would have had no knowledge of media relations.

For a moment he seems to buckle on the idea of ​​the sheer weight of the tasks that he and his colleagues are. “We have to do everything yourself: journalism, hospitals, security, supply. That is far more than just demonstrate! “But he is not thinking of giving up. He was in Syria and had long sought to hide. The reason for the flight were not his subsequent arrest and torture that nearly killed him, but the moment when security forces threatened his wife and daughter. Now that his family is abroad, he thinks only of the return.

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