last Friday of August Salma was sitting
in the basement of building where she lives in Dariya in the suburbs of
Damascus. What might have been running
though the head of this eight year girl?
We know that Salma turned to her mother and said, "The sound of the
shelling is getting louder." She
had been hiding in the basement of her apartment building with everyone of her neighbors
most of the day. Soon enough, Salma, her
little brother and her mother, among dozens of her neighbors, were either dead
or wounded. Salma was not dead but had shrapnel
in her belly. She did not need to
die. When the surviving neighbors tried to
get medical help, they could not leave their basement. For twelve hours they sat watching the wounded
dying one by one. Twelve hours later Salma
turned her eyes to the sky and added one more number to the victims of the
genocide that the Syrian regime is committing.
She joined the 670 dead girls and 1623 dead boys, whose deaths are officially
documented since March 2011. The real
number is far beyond these statistics.
Each one of these children has a unique story. and each story is at least as tragic as
Salma's. Salma's tragedy did not stop there. Her mother and her little brother, both of
them wounded with the same shell had to remain another 16 hours with Salma's
dead body before they succeed to get some help.
Salma's funeral was not what one
might think. Nether Salma's neighbors
nor members of her large family could
make it to the funeral. Salma's eight year
old body was carried to the grave by only her grandmother and her old
uncle. On the road to the nearby
cemetery a group of the regime's soldiers stopped them. The grandmother shouted to the soldier, "Just
let us bury our baby." The head of
the group ordered them to be shot and left.
Salma's grandmother and her uncle turned their backs to the soldiers and
wondered if they were going to get shot before getting to the tomb. No one knows why the soldiers did not shoot
them. One may only speculate. Is it because they were tired of all the slaughter
they committed that week-end? The total
number of fallen civilian that week-end surpassed 1250 civilians in Daraiya
alone. None of them belonged to the Free
the border of Syria, I met in person other types of children. Muhammad just turned 20 years old. He got arrested the first time for attempting
to defect from his military service when he was not yet fully 18. He was, or should I say, he is still, a
child. When I talked to him, I feel he
is still 11 years old. He joyfully shows
you the traces on his body of five months of torture by electricity in Assad's
jail. He will tell you, as if nothing
happened, how he was wounded three times.
Every time he gets better, he goes back to the fight.
his 11 year old innocence he tells you, "I had not yet turned 18 when I
was drafted. Either I had to kill innocent civilians or the soldiers would shoot
me. I choose to take my chances. Now, either
I wait for them to get to my house and slaughter me, or I have to stand and
defend my people, from the first child in the first house of my city. I had to choose the latter. I had wanted to finish with the military
service and leave it behind me as soon as possible. Now, it looks like I have to live with its terrors
and memories all my life. But all what I can do? I cannot let children get
is another child/man, 21 years old. He
said, "We are dying here happily so no child gets threatened and no woman
gets raped. We do not want anyone to die
with us. All what we want is that you help
us with your prayers, your weapons and your money."
It is undeniable that what happens
daily in Syria is genocide. But what is
relevant, is that we cannot face genocide half-heartedly. We are facing a crises that might be prolonged
and the human race is watching it silently.
Salma, 670 girls and 1623 boys are watching us from heaven. They tell us Muhammad and Karim could not get
to their neighborhood early enough. Their
fear is that we do not help Muhammad and Karim to get to other neighborhoods
before it is too late.
A UN-brokered cease-fire in Syria, in place since April 12, has had little effect on stemming the violence that has raged for more than a year now. Yesterday, three members of the Syrian security service were killed in Damascus. Reports also suggest that government forces have been keeping a low profile in the presence of UN monitors and then resuming their attacks once they leave.
The UN Security Council still backs the cease-fire and is preparing to send hundreds of additional monitors in the coming months. Yet many are skeptical over whether this plan will actually end the conflict. Mohyeddin Kassar is the president of the Syrian American Society. He givesWorldview an update on the crisis in Syria.
Letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations: We, the Syrian People in our peaceful revolution, commit ourselves to the initiative of United Nations for Syria. We shall commit ourselves to stop dying if the Syrian regime stops shooting.
Lettre au Secrétaire Général des Nations Unies: Nous, les peuple syriens dans notre révolution pacifique, nous nous engageons à l'initiative des Nations Unies pour la Syrie. Nous nous engageons à cesser de mourir si le régime syrien cesse de tirer.
Письмо Генерального секретаря Организации Объединенных Наций: Мы, народу Сирии в нашей мирной революции, берем на себя обязательство по инициативе Организации Объединенных Наций по Сирии. Мы берем на себя обязательство остановить смерти, если сирийский режим останавливает съемку.
رسالة إلى السكرتير العام للأمم المتحدة نحن الشعب السوري ومن خلال ثورتنا السلمية نلعن التزامنا بمبادرة الأمم المتحدة من أجل سورية، ونتعهد أن نتوقف عن الموت إذا توقف النظام السوري عن إطلاق النار.
In an interview with National Public Radio Chicago, Osama tells the story of the non-violent struggle against Syrian dictator. Thanks to Worldview at Chicago Public Radio for being the voice of those who do not have voice. :-)
I posted an old blog again before this entry because it is relevant to what happened today and to this entry. Shortly before eight o’clock this evening (Damascus time) Maimouna answered her door bell quickly hoping that the bell will not wake up her 6 month old daughter, Iymar. At the door there was a platoon of al-mukhabarat (the Syrian political police) with her brother, Suhaib, shackled. Suhaib Ammar was walking to his sister’s apartment when he was stopped by al-mukhabarat. They asked him where about his brother in law, Ousama. He did not know where he was. They invaded the house searching for Ousama.
"Your husband is prisoner of conscious is he not?" asked the officer.
"Yes." She answered.
"You know that he became a bomb maker and he killed several security officers."
"That is not true." She replied with confidence.
"Where is he?" The officer asked.
"I do not know. Since he was released from jail he has been absent." She answered.
"It looks like you are not going to speak." T"ake the baby with you until her father turns himself in," shouted the officer.
Scared to death Maimouna held on to her 6 month old fighting them off. Finally they left and took her brother Suhaib instead with them. She ran after them. "Why you are taking my brother? He has nothing to do with this!"
"Don’t worry. We will return him dead in couple days."
They left with Suhaib. One can only imagine how the night passed for the 26 year old young mother.
If her 6 month old daughter got arrested today it would not be the first time. The young mother got arrested when she was 6 months pregnant with her. When she was born early this summer her father was in jail for the fourth time in his life. After he got released, she never slept in the same house with her father. He is always on the run.
The six month old baby Iymar was born into troubled Syria to a family totally committed to non-violent struggle against dictatorship. Her parents are well known nonviolent activists who worked against the dictatorship for more than 10 years. Her grandfather, Dr. Mohammad al-Ammar, M.D. is also a well known non-violant activist who has been in jail for several months as of today.
Tonight she went to bed with her father on the run, her grandfather and uncle in jail, and her mother listening closely to each move she hears behind the door. But hope remains because her parents and millions of Syrians are working today to give her a more free future.
Detention of Osama Nassar, by the Syrian Regime, 5:30 AM, Damascus, at dawn in Syria on Sunday 01/05/2011 (Saturday 11:30 PM USA EST) Reported by his wife.
We were sleeping .... I woke up. I wanted to go to the bathroom. I thought I heard the doorbell ring... I sat up... Opening the door of my room, I heard a voice more clearly ... I found my mother-sitting in the dark in the living room and standing beside my sister-in-law - who happened to be visiting today -… they did not know what to do... I realized that they came ... and then I heard a knock on the door by hand … Banged hard ... I entered the room again and I told him “they came” … he got up to put on his clothes.... In the meantime, they increased hammering on the door I went to his sister's side, she was looking through the peephole in the door. We heard them talking about breaking the door and then we heard someone say, "Break down the door" ... We hurried to the room and I told Osama that they are going to break down the door. He ran to open it but they had done their duty and already broken it. He met with them and five or six of them came in...They argued with him about not opening the door immediately. His mother told them she was asleep and did not hear. They asked him to bring his mobile phone and identity ... I searched for the cell phone and pulled out a piece of identity from the drawer. I thought –wrongly- it was his. They were asking him to hurry up and bring his piece of identity. I gave the ID and the mobile phone to his mother. She said they were hers. His mother asked them to allow him to enter to his room and get his own identity... He entered the room and tried to finish putting on his clothes. I found the identity... One of them followed him inside the room. I heard him coming ... I went near the door. I reacted when I saw him and shouted, "Where are you entering!! Where are you entering!! Get out! Get Out! Criminals!!” He was wearing full military uniform, carrying a weapon and ammunition around his waist. Osama asked me to calm down and the military backed out. I took the ID out of the wallet and threw it in front of him. Osama's mother picked it up and gave it to them. I gave him a hug. I saw him holding his socks in his hand I told him to put them in his pocket. Then I said after some hesitation, “Put them on!” He bowed down to put them on and said, "These good people are not in hurry!" He, the soldier, said to him, "You put them on in the car." ... Osama said, "You and I know what is going to happen in the car" and he finished putting them on. I was standing in the corridor in front of him ... I looked at the soldier and said aloud, "Because we are a terrorist cell!! You are coming fully armed!! May God be our protector!" We escorted him to the door and outside there was about ten or more soldiers similar to the other ones. Some of them had their weapons down and others were pointing them. All of them were dressed in military clothing and all of them were carrying guns. One of them was wearing a black leather jacket seemed it was their leader. We saw some of them coming down from the top of the stairs. They were besieging the place is what it seemed. They took him. I raised my voice which accompanied them down the stairs, "Be careful, you have a terrorist!" Our neighbor was standing outside. He said he was returning from morning prayers. He said he saw a large security presence at the entrance and around the building. When he came out to pray, they stopped him and asked him for his identity.
By: Maimouna Alammar
Osama Nassar: 33 years old, born in Damascus, Syria, August 11, 1978. He is an activist with a deep belief in nonviolence. He served 3 months in Syrian prisons in the early 2000s, just for trying to organize students to clean the street of their village during summer break. He got arrested this morning again by Asad’s Security forces. His last post on his Facebook page was “Peaceful! Peaceful! Even if they kill a hundred every day.” (It rhymes in Arabic)
The narrator, Maimouna Alammar (25 years old), is Osama’s wife, was born on December 6, 1986. She is preparing her master’s degree in Information Science. She is 9 months pregnant with their first child. She got arrested on March 25, 2011, in a demonstration supporting the families of prisoners of conscience and she was released due to her pregnancy.