One Year On: Syrians Speak About Uprising
03-17-2012, 07:04 AM
One Year On: Syrians Speak About Uprising
One year on: Syrians speak about uprising
Cross-section of Syrians share their thoughts on the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule.
It has been a year now that Syria has been in turmoil. What initially started out as protests for reforms has escalated over time into an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s one-party rule, dragging the country into chaos and a period of uncertainty.
Parts of Syria today resemble a war zone. Few cities and towns have been left unscathed by the political upheaval.
Al Jazeera spoke to residents of different parts of Syria to learn more about how the eventful year impacted their lives and what the future possibly holds.
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Student, 25, Aleppo
Before the revolution, fear had taken over my life in all of its aspects. However since (then) I have overcome a lot of issues on a personal scale and on a social case. I have become more straightforward and braver. I have also learned a lot about politics and human rights in the past year. It is true that before the revolution we had more "security", we went out more, even as girl, I would stay out till past midnight and didn't fear for my life. Since the revolution the streets have become dangerous. Also business, money flow and economy have gone 100 steps backwards. I am against the arming of civilians and against the FSA. I believe in peaceful protests, and a peaceful revolution. Guns never brought freedom according to me.
Resident doctor, 26, Aleppo
The uprising hasn't affected me personally till few months ago, when I was for the first time in close contact with injured people, sometimes just innocent people passing by (along with) armed men, and even military members. I consider myself an opponent to this regime, but recently I have been thinking about the cost of what is happening right now.
Entrepreneur , 31, Aleppo
I had my own business with 10 employees. My business was mainly for the US market but I felt like a stranger in my country because the government doesn't encourage people to work with other markets. When the revolution started, I decided to join from the beginning to see the change I was dreaming of. But the internet was being cut off for long hours, which hampered productivity. I had to close my company in Syria and let everyone go temporarily until we topple the regime.
Journalist, 29, Aleppo
The situation has affected my life strongly, especially since activities and events have been reduced to almost "zero". So, I've become semi-unemployed. I support the president because I believe that we should be voting to choose either him or any other person - not remove him through rebellion. On the other hand, I think that many of his supporters believe more in him than in the rest of the regime or the Baath Party, so if he quits, we will see more problems than we see now.
Housewife, 48, Al-Raqqa
The uprising affected my life negatively. I do not like Assad but I am scared of change. I do not want Syria to become another Iraq. Assad offered us peace and stability. He set up schools and hospitals. Since the uprising started, everything became expensive and even bread became scarce. My husband, however, is a die-hard opponent of the regime and does not want to understand my views. He started scolding me in front of the children for the first time in his life because of my opinions. He even began threatening to divorce me if I do not change my mind. He also forbad me from visiting my brother because he supports Assad. My children support their father’s views. I am scared that one day they will get arrested.
Nurse, 26, Al-Raqqa
I am taking a neutral stance. I do not watch the news on TV and avoid getting into political discussions with family members or friends because I am scared of losing them. At the hospital where I work, differences among staff are very clear. Those who support Assad try to avoid helping patients they believe are regime opponents. If they have to assist them, they give the most minimal support. Day to day life has become very difficult. Everything is expensive. Travelling from one area to another has become difficult due to the many checkpoints. The atmosphere in the city is scary as we continue to hear about deaths. I hope this situation will end soon.
Shop owner, 41, al-Hassake
For us, in the northeast of Syria, we have been deprived from services and from the resources of our country for 40 years. We are forgotten... We had a drought for more than four years which affected our daily life and ability to survive. When the revolution started, I was not sure I wanted to go out to the streets, as I was afraid; afraid of detention and the security (services) which I have feared since I was a little child. After a few months and what Assad and his gang did to their own people, I became fearless. When I saw the bravery of children and women, I felt disgraced and ashamed that I didn’t participate from the beginning. Today, I hate this so called “president” and I want to sacrifice my life so my children can live a better one. Bashar, I hate him, and I want to see him humiliated according to the just Syrian laws that I am sure our new generation will make sure we get.
Literature graduate 24, Jabal al-Zawyiyah, Idlib
Before the revolution we had no cause. My life was empty. I graduated from the University of Aleppo with a degree in literature just four months before the uprising and was looking for a job. But when the uprising started, I got involved from day one. I knew that this is a success project because (of what) I saw in Tunisia and Egypt. When the people want to topple the regime, they can. I started supporting (the uprising) with news dissemination and since then I haven’t left my computer a single second. I haven’t seen my family for more than five months. I am constantly on the run with my friends because the security forces are after us.
Simultaneous interpreter, 24, Hama
My life before the revolution can be summarised by my dream to become a professional simultaneous interpreter for the United Nations. I was working hard to reach there. But when the revolution started, my whole life changed. I forgot my dreams and quit my job. I left our house so that my family can stay safe and began working for the revolution. Since I am an educated person, I dedicated most of my time to teach the courageous but simple protesters how to use the computer.
Mother and farmer, Baniyas, Tartous
The revolution impacted everyone, those with or against the regime. Life has become very expensive and insecure. It has become impossible to leave the house at night or travel somewhere far to visit family and friends. Basic materials are no longer available. Bread has become scarce because it is difficult to distribute them amidst the clashes between pro- and anti- regime fighters. Armed groups cut off roads, damage bread, and bombard electrical generators to force people to rebel and join the revolution. I support Assad because he is a young educated man who gave a lot to this country. I do not deny the presence of some people that had a negative impact on the nation, but this is not a reason enough for the country to slip into the unknown and enter into a state of war.
Resident doctor, 25, Tartous
I have never expected something like this to happen in Syria. I am stuck in the middle. I want change but I don’t want the country to be lost as this happens. I often avoid political discussions, especially since I am in a society that is majorly supportive of Assad and the result of any discussion will negatively impact my relation to people. The two sides are not giving me a chance to take their side.
Salesman, 29, Salamiyya, Hama
There are deep devisions within friends and families. I lost four friends because I support the revolution. I left to the United Arab Emirates because I did not want to serve my mandatory military service so that I would not have to use my weapon against my brothers or to have to defect from the military and become wanted by the regime. I support the revolution and I have always been opposed to Assad’s regime since a young age. Our voices were not heard. I never felt this regime represents me. Elections are always forged. Even student unions elections are forged. The constitution was changed in 10 minutes so that Bashar could come to power. I was 18 years old. I felt very ashamed back then. I wished for what is happening today to happen- not the bloodshed, but the revolution.
Bank teller, 23, Wadi al-Nasara, Homs
I'm not into politics but I've been badly affected by the uprising. I'm scared to drive my car to work because of terrorists; they are blocking the road and have been kidnapping some people. I might not be educated in politics but I believe that we need more freedom. Regarding the opposition: since I am Christian lady, I believe that after they are done with the president, they will kick us out or kill us, because the people who are leading them have very strict Islamic mentalities. They killed many people because they are Christians, especially in Homs. One of the things they shouted in protests was: "The Alawites to the grave and the Christians to Beirut. One of my colleagues at work heard this. I don't want our country to become like Iraq and Libya.
Nutritionist, 25, Homs
I married just three months before the revolution. We spent a lot of time and money furnishing our new apartment. We lived in a tower in Inshaat area. Snipers were positioned at the top of the tower and were shooting at protesters. It became too dangerous to stay there. We went to my parents-in-law’s home for a short bit. We came back and found that the regime forces had looted everything: Electronics, clothes, shoes, furniture, table sets... everything. They stole all my husband’s perfumes and that explains why the security forces at the entrance of the building smelled like they poured cologne all over themselves. I feel homeless. The revolution was needed because we lived under a dictatorship. But the suffering caused is too much. Our loss is nothing compared to the parents’ loss of their child, children’s loss of their dad and a wife’s loss of her husband.
Journalist, 26, Homs
I supported the Syrian revolution since day one. I lost my job and many friends and relatives because of my position and opinions. I left Syria in an attempt to start a new job but I couldn’t adapt myself to following the news through the TV screen. I wanted to be on the ground. So I came back to Syria. Before the revolution, I was part of many organasations and charities concerned with women and children rights. But after the revolution I stopped working with some of them due to their policy of ignoring the rights violations committed by the regime. The revolution involves every detail of my life. I hope that what happened in my city Homs never happens again. We depend on national unity and the ability of the people to overcome the regime’s attempts to instigate a civil war.
Businessman, 35, Damascus
This is not a revolution but some idiots who are demanding freedom. They have very sophisticated weapons. They cut off streets, steal goods and rape women. With all the European sanctions, more and more sanctions, how will business go? Bashar al-Assad will defend us to the last drop of blood. We have to be his shield, strong, and protect every inch of land and our beloved country.
Humanitarian worker, 26, Damascus
Since March 2011, my life has completely changed. I gained hope in a better future for myself and my country. Today I am proud I am Syrian. On the other hand, as a humanitarian worker who worked with Iraqi refugees for years, I feel sad and useless. I hate myself for being unable to support my own people. My upmost frustration is when I hear about areas deprived from food, water and heat as I can’t do anything while this brutal regime is trying to starve the people of Syria. Nowadays, I am always ready to join a demonstration. I carry flat shoes with me wherever I go. I also make sure I am ready for getting arrested especially if I am heading to join a demonstration. I carry extra underwear, hygiene tools and money to try to bribe the security personnel. In regards to Bashar al-Assad, I definitely don’t support or respect him. I see the role of a president simply as serving citizens. He never did this, neither before nor during the revolution.
Doctor, 51, Damascus
The uprising affected my life for the worse. I am a doctor and used to do surgeries in Homs. Since the uprising started I couldn't go there because it's too dangerous. The armed opposition is attacking educated people. This happened to one doctor I know. He was kidnapped and killed. My daughter, who's studying at a university outside Damascus, (has not been able to go to class) since last September because the armed opposition near Deraa is not letting students attend their classes. I support the president. But I do support the idea of a revolution - a true one which can guide us to the perfect community, with freedom and democracy. But what's going on now is an Islamic uprising, far from what we're looking for. When the uprising started I was supporting it. We need to change the system that controls this country but when I realised the uprising was going in a completely different direction, with fake stories coming up on TV channels, my stance became more than supporting the president - it became protecting my country.
Phd candidate, 30, Damascus
The revolution has affected every aspect of my life in a positive way. I am doing much better in studies. My social life is also doing very well. Yes, I lost some friends because of my support for the revolution but I gained many others. Before the revolution I was very hopeless. The only positive thought I had is the hope to emigrate from the country. This is not the case now. I do see Syria going into elongated armed conflict but I am trying to focus on finding ways to mitigate the catastrophic outcome of this conflict.
IT student and freelance web developer, 24, Deraa
Before the revolution, my life was a very ordinary one. I would go to school, hang out with my friends and work in my free time. I had many clients, both from inside and outside Syria. The future was bright and I was planning to get a job abroad. After the revolution started, my life was completely turned around! I had to stop working because of the constant cuts in electric and Internet by the regime. But the most important reason was my overwhelming desire to do something for my country so I started protesting to demand my rights for a free and dignified life. This hasn't been easy on us. We lost so many people and I personally lost one of my close friends, which made me even more determined to not give up until we are free of this tyrant regime.
English Teacher, 47, Sweida
I worked as an English teacher but was stopped because I criticised the regime policy. “Life” before the revolution was not a life. Even though all basic materials were available and at cheaper prices, our sense of dignity was non-existent. I feel proud for what the revolutionaries of Homs and Idlib are doing. I am ashamed by what many of Swieda’s sons are doing. You should know that Sweida is the country’s poorest province. And before poor people can protest, security forces approached them and gave them money and weapons and powers to become a Shabeeha [thugs]. A Shabih was a nobody and become somebody. Despite all of this, the popular anger in Sweida is on the rise and things will explode here soon. But until then, please wait for us our families in Homs, Deraa and Idlib. We are coming.
March 15, 2012
"...If the rhetoric is essential to the philosophy, then there is something wrong with the philosophy. Your massive intellect should be able to describe your philosophy without continually referring to your special rhetoric..."
- Yael The Great