Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Listen to Osamas's story

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. :-)


Iymar, the daughter of Osama and Maimouna is also on the run.  She is a threat for Asad regime.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The saga of Ousama Nassar and his family continues:

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. 

Written on May 11: Syria: the oppression of nonviolence activists continue

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.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Syria: Even the army is subject to Oppression

The car stopped at the road barrier erected by the army.  A young soldier approached followed by a lieutenant with 3 others soldiers behind him.  The soldier asks the driver for an I.D. He looks at the I.D. and compares it to a long list he has in his hand.  He did not find the name on the “wanted” list.   “You live by the grocery store?” asked the soldier staring in the face of the driver as if try to read something in it.  He gathered his courage and raised the list in front of his face.  His lieutenant and the other three comrades stand in half circle behind him as a wall.   He recited four or five names and said tell them not to come through the barrier.  He wanted to give more names.  But one of his comrades started insulting the driver and ordered him to take off ending the scene.  The driver left trying to remember the names he just heard.  A soldier of the “republican guard” arrived at this moment to witness the end of the scene.   
The soldiers and their officer are risking being shot on the spot by a single bullet in the back of the head if the last “soldier” saw what they did.   They had been set up at the barrier and were given a list of names to search for in each car.  The list of the name is for political activists or even just demonstrators who got recognized by the security forces.  The last soldier was a “Shabih,” a thug or a paramilitary, who is paid per day an amount equal to a monthly salary of an elementary school teacher.  He was given 15 days of training and a uniform to use if needed.  His mandate authorizes him to shoot anyone including army personal.  He receives all the support he needs from the republican guard snipers who keep an eye on the scene from not far away. 

This scene is a normal event every day in the cities of Syria.  Some cities or neighborhood are not as lucky as this one.  They do not get an army barrier only.  They find themselves facing invasion of the tanks of the republican guard. 
Many of the soldiers in the Syrian army find themselves between a rock and a hard place.  Their colleagues who refused to shoot civilians have been executed by the Security forces of Assad or by his republican guards.  Their bodies returned to their family with the standard explanation that they were killed by “armed terrorists.”  Even the highest ranks in the army were plagued by sudden retirements and sudden heart attacks during the last six months.   Some troops have defected.  The question is “defecting to where?”  Some of them run to Turkey.  But with the Syrian regime the punishment is collective.  General Harmoush, for example, defected to Turkey leaving his family behind.  His wife was arrested. His house destroyed.  His brother killed under torture. 

When I hear these stories, these terrible stories leaked from the iron curtains forced around the country by the regime, my fears are deep that one day we will discover that this is but the tip of the iceberg.  The international community has a history of being late.  Angola and Bosnia are examples of the outcome of this habit.  The question is, what did we learn from them?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Scaring away the wolf is easier than fighting it

The Syrian foreign affairs minister al-Muallim threatened the countries with severe consequences if they recognized the Syrian National Council.  Today a part of the speech given by Hasun (al-Mufti in Syria) was posted on youtube.   Hasun says:
“With the first bomb falling on Syria, Lebanon and Syria will see each one of their children become suicide bombers on the lands of Europe and Palestine.  I am saying it to all Europe and to America. We shall prepare suicide bombers who are now in your land if you bombard Syria or Lebanon, from now on an eye for an eye and the one who starts it is the unfair one.  You are the one who asked for it.  I will tell everyone don’t think that these suicide bombers in the lands of France, UK, and America will be Arabs and Muslims. They will be a new Jul Jammal. They will be a new Muhammad Durra.  Therefore we beg you not to attack Syria.”
Threat seems to have become the last tool of diplomacy left in the hand of Assad’s regime.  Some months ago al-Muallim commented on the prospect of European punishment on the regime saying, “We will erase Europe from the map.”  I do not believe that we, in the west, need to take this threat seriously.  Neither Assad nor Hasun has any religious weight in the Sunni street.  Though Assad likes to think that that religious establishment is standing with him, he is fooling himself if he believes that.  In spite of 50 years of state controlled Sunni Islam in Syria, no single Sunni will shed a tear for Assad. 
Al-Mufti Hasun lost what was left of his position’s respect when he stood by the regime against the will of the revolution.  The regime might have asked him to say what he said, but he knows that he has no followers to give his threats any credibility.  However, one can see Hasun’s threat and before it the threat of al-Muallim, only in the framework of the Iranian – West confrontation.   Only in this context might these threats make some sense.   This is taking us back to the elephant in the room. After the failure of disconnecting Iran from the Syrian regime, Syria becomes the battleground of this confrontation.  The West needs to make up its mind and stand by the Syrian revolution as the only viable solution.  A free and democratic Syria is the viable solution for the stability in the Middle East.   

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A real Revelation of the Revolution:

I got this story from Syria and I felt compelled to translate it for you.

I was in a store in Duma (northeastern suburb of Damascus), chatting with a friend of mine, when a man in his thirties entered the shop and said to the shop owner, whom he seemed to know before and called by name,  "What is the price of the item I bought from you yesterday?” “150 pounds ($3),” replied the shopkeeper.
“Is it possible for you to be patient with me? I will pay you next week?”  asked the man.  The shopkeeper replied with his approval. 
Once the man had left I asked the shopkeeper about the man.  He replied that this man is from a modest family and he works in construction. He is going through hard times. 
I went after the man to give him what I had in my pocket.  A man without 150 pounds, you can only imagine his hardship. 
I followed and entered a grocery store I saw him entering on the same street. I saw him ask for cooking oil, pasta, rice, etc… I was astonished. He did not have 150 pounds to pay the first shopkeeper, but came to buy all of these items (the price of which is much more than 150 pounds).
I could not hold back but to ask him half-sarcastically and jokingly: "I see you are shopping."  He looked at me and recognized me from the shop.  He replied, "I have to shop as you see.  Our neighbor was taken by the security forces yesterday.  I have to take something to eat for his wife and children.  They are going through hard times.” 
I felt as if I was struck with lightening.  I stood dumbfounded for ten seconds without answering. It felt like an eternity.  The man does not have 150 pounds and he thinks his neighbor is going through hard times.
How great are these people! How can those who rule these people treat them so savagely and brutally? Thousands of thoughts went through my mind. Thousands of tears flew out of my eyes.   I found myself picking up two items of everything he had and told him, “This is for you and that is for your neighbor.  I ask Allah to bless you and help you.  We are here for each other. I will pay for them.”  He left with the groceries leaving me with a heart submerged with humbleness and full of reverence for the greatness of the situation. The story ended here. 

I called my blog the “Revelation of Revolution” If this story is not a revelation I do not know what will be.  Intellects consider that there is a negative relationship between environment and human behavior.   Only greatness will break this relationship. 
We hope to reach the spirit and the greatness of our revolution to our Syrian community.  How far we came to the point of the American way of fundraising with $75 plate in a fundraising party to donate $100?    

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Assad's Face: The Bloody, The Bad and the Ugly

Today, the human race lost.  Ghyath Matar and Yahya Sharbajy were arrested three days ago in Daryah. Ghyath's body was returned to his family today.  Ghyath is missing his throat.  You do not have to know Yahya and Ghyath.  But knowing them, even knowing of them, makes you a better human being.  In a society dominated by the violence of the regime and its oppression, being a pacifist is not something you can have easily.  Once you know them and you know where they come from, you have one question in your mind, “How can they be so pacifist in such a violent environment.”  Yahya was born on January 21st, 1979.   He got his share of political imprisonment.  His first concern was to keep the revolution peaceful.  Ghyath and Yahya kept saying, “To be killed is better than being the killer.”  The only weapon Ghyath had was his vocal cords.  Is it for that reason Assad security forces returned his throat separated from his body? When a family member wondered about it the officer told the family in a mocking tone, “Make Shawerma with it.”   
Unbelievable you think!  There is an Arab saying that “the one who has no shame will do anything.”  When we talk about the lies that the Syrian regime propagates, our American friends imagine that the Syrian regime is deforming the reality the same way that some politicians here do.  They think about a media who mixes a story with some lies to make it more exciting or telling half of the truth, etc...
But unfortunately this is not the case of Syrian regime and its media.  Al-Dunia satellite is one of the regime’s media outlets.  Last week, al-Dunia ran a story that I could not even believe without having seen it with my own eyes.  Al-Dunia’s story accused al-Jazeera news of building a huge studio with the help of American and European movies producers.  These studios were set up to mimic the squares and the streets of Syrian cities such as Damascus, Daraa, Hama, Homs, etc...  Al-jazeera, according to the Syrian regime’s media, uses these studios to film fake demonstrations and rallies against the Syrian regime.   Thus, according to al-Dunia all what we have seen since March 15 is nothing else than a conspiracy of al-Jazeera.
This week a video filmed by an anonymous Syrian, widely distributed on you tube, and picked up by the main news channels, shows a group of Syrian soldiers surrounding a wounded civilian on the ground and emptying their revolvers into his shaking body.  The regime media has not come up with a story about this one yet.  Several months ago, a video depicting Syrian soldiers stepping on the back of civilians with their hands shackled behind them and kicking them was broadcasted on a German T.V.   The Syrian embassy organized a campaign against the TV and forced it to apologize.  The Regime’s story was that the video was shot a long time ago in Iraq and the soldiers were Kurdish paramilitary.  The TV apologized to the embassy.  A week after that another video come out again with one of the civilians who was tortured in the first video. The video shows the youth announcing that he is Syrian and showing his identification.  He gave a full recount confirming what was in the first video.  He proved that the regime was straight-forward lying. 
The list of examples of the war on the truth in the Syrian Regime’s media never stops.  The regime’s media, same as the practices of the army, respects no limit and has nothing to do with ethics or credibility.  When I hear or read some so called intellectuals connected to the regime trying to hold the stick in the middle under the pretext of being balanced, I just want to throw up. One cannot consider in any way that understanding the crime of Assad as a political issue. Those who try to frame the Syrian regime’s crimes as political are as much a part of Assad’s crimes as anyone in his security forces.  They are the same as someone who believes that Jeffrey Dahmer’s guilt (a criminal who killed and ate 17 teenagers in Milwaukee, WI, in the early 1990s) is subject to a political debate. 
The assassination of Ghyath did not start three days ago. It was not committed by one hand.  His blood is on the hand of all complacent participants.  I believe when Martin Luther King Jr. said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."  He was not imagining that one day he will stand holding the door of heaven to Ghyath Matar and his friends.     

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Assad Insists on Military Oppression:

Latest change to the penalty laws in Syria is issued on Tuesday September 6, 2011:
“Every rally or gathering procession on public roads or in a place that is accessible to the public is considered as riot gathering, and punishable by imprisonment from one month to a year and a fine of fifty thousand Syrian pounds.”  (10-month salary for an elementary school teacher)

If you walk through downtown Damascus you will not notice any unfamiliar view.  Sometimes you may notice some busses parked and some people sitting lazily in the buses or around them.  You will notice the increased number of vendors who are sitting on the curbs selling small items. 
To move from the familiar to the unfamiliar all what you need is to meet a friend there.  If you shake hands with your friend and stand there chatting you will notice two or three vendors leave their position and come close to you.  The longer you wait, the closer they get until you reach a moment where they will surround you and your friend and ask you to leave.  If you hesitate long enough you will notice a group of people from the busses coming toward you with stakes in their hands.  Usually the scene ends there unless you really are looking for a serious beating, arrest and/or possible death on the spot.   

The tactics are similar with some divergence depending on the area and its sensitivity and on the availability of the security personnel.  The vendors are all undercover security personnel.  The bus people are the paramilitary death squads known as al-Shabbyhah.  The goal is to stop any attempt of people to gather.  Even with all this oppression, rallies have never stopped and are getting bigger and bigger everyday.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Radio Interview about the Syrian Revolution

I had an interview on Worldview, WBEZ, NPR at noon today about the Syrian revolution.  Here is the link to the interview.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHYmXxjMalE
Hope to hear from you.
Mohyeddin :-) 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Syrian Crisis in the Garment Sector

Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr is the peak season for consumer spending in the retail sector in Syria.  It is similar to the Christmas season in Western economies It is in this season of Ramadan and Eid that profits in this sector get made for the whole year.  At this time, the horizon does not seem optimistic for this sector.  The lack of confidence is high among consumers.   A recession during this season will have serious consequences for the retail sector.  The disastrous management of the crisis of political legitimacy is having repercussions on the textile sector and on the economy overall.  The textile sector is one of the most important sectors in the Syrian economy which traditionally has exports totaling nearly 50 billion Syrian Liras (5 billion dollars).
With the collapse of the internal market and the siege imposed by the regime, the industry is going through a major crisis.  It manifests itself in the dramatic drop experienced in used capacity of production and employment in this sector.  Normally, production and employment reaches its maximum in the month of Ramadan, but this year it declined due to many factors, most importantly political unrest.  This year, the employment and production fell from 24/7 production to only three days a week during the usual run-up to Eid. 
There are two sides to the crisis in the sector.   The first dimension is the demand side.  The absence of consumer confidence for the near future leads to the postponement of consumption and the sharp decline in demand for finished products.  This is easily observable when reviewing the results of sales for the season of Ramadan compared to previous seasons.  The crisis of consumer confidence and the future economic stability results in putting off consumption.  It also manifests itself in the shift toward less expensive, lower quality goods.  We noticed many of the modern clothing firms lost customers who preferred to buy fashions from the past year over recent models.  Consumers were inclined to purchase lower brands leading the sector to face a decline in its real demand.
The second side comes from the lack of confidence of the producers. On the one hand, yarn and raw materials are imported and form a significant share of the production costs The shocks experienced by the Syrian currency lend support to the expectations of its devaluation against the dollar or the euro.  The Central Bank governor, Adib Mayalah, recognized in an interview late in August on French TV that the international reserve diminished by 35% during the last six months.  We realize that this bleeding of the reserves to support the Syrian currency cannot be sustained indefinitely.  This mismanagement and the regime’s policies shall affect the currency sooner or later.  Thus, producers in the textile sector will face difficult choices With the devaluation of the Syrian pound, inventories of imported raw materials will have more value as raw material than the final products.   This situation pushes the producers in the textile sector to delay production as much as possible.  The sector will enter the vicious circle in which increased costs and decreased expected sales will lead to a lack of supply and push prices even higher.
 In the medium and long term, this sector will be subjected to further problems if the regime’s control is prolonged.  We have a situation with higher prices (supply side inflation) and lack of demand.  The extension of the regime will mean forcefully denouncing its liberal economic policies and returning to protectionist and interventionist economic policy.  (See our article "Revolution and the End of Syrian Economic Reform.")  This will create great pressure on the investment in this sector; the shrinking of the margin caused by fixed prices determined by the government and increased production costs will lead to a real contraction in the sector that will have dire consequences.
In any case, workers and businesses are deeply feeling the Syrian crisis. The crises and the continuity of the Syrian regime do not promise a solution in foreseeable future.  Looming on the horizon is more protectionist and interventionist policies; a return to the government policies of the 1963 to 2000 period.  

Friday, September 2, 2011

Translation of the announcement of the Attorney General of Hama, Syria

The resignation of the attorney general of Hama, Syria 
Mr. Adnan Muhammad al-Bakkour the attorney general of Hama Syria posted a video tape on Youtube announcing his resignation.  Here is the complete translation of his statement.

I, the attorney general of Hama, Adnan Muhammad al-Bakkour, announce my resignation from my position in the state that is shadowed by Assad and his gangs.  I summarize the causes of my resignation by the following:
1.       The killing of the prisoners in the “Central Prison of Hama” on Sunday 7/31/2011.  Their number is 72 prisoners of the peaceful demonstrators and political activists.  They have been buried in mass graves near the village of al-Khalidyah beside the “Military Security” branch in Hama. 
2.       The mass graves in the public parks made by the security forces and the death squads (al-Shabyha).  The number of their victims numbers up to 420 or more.  I was asked to present a report declaring that these victim were killed by the hand of “Armed Gangs.”
3.       Random arrests of the peaceful demonstrators.  Their number reaches around 10,000 persons.  
4.       The torture in the security branches.  Their victims amount to 320 citizens.  I was forced to give order to bury 17 of the torture victims.  They have been transported from the refrigerators to the “al-Khadraa” Cemetery in al-Srayhin. 
5.       The Syrian Army has destroy homes with their residents in them in the neighborhood of  al-Hamediyah and al-Qusur.  Bodies were left under the ruins for several days until they started to decompose.
I have a long list of documents and witnesses of such atrocities and I will announce them in the future.  I am listing here in short the name of the criminals who committed these atrocities towards the unarmed civilians:
1.       Minister of the Interior, Muhammad al-Shaar.   (محمد الشعار)He supervised and managed the military campaign against Hama directly and in person.
2.       Brigadier General (Amid) Muhammad Muflih,  (محمد مفلح)the chief of the Military Security Branch in Hama.
3.       Brigadier General Abd al-Hamid Idris (عبد الحميد إدريس)
4.       Brigadier (Muqaddam) Naji al-Sabbagh,  (ناجي الصباغ) Chief of the Air Force Intelligence in Hama.
5.       Brigadier General Jihad Hasan,  (جهاد حسن) Chief of the State Security Branch in Hama.
6.       Brigadier General Husam Luqa,  (حسام لوقا) Chief of the Political Security in Hama.
7.       Brigadier General Ibrahim Khalifah  (ابراهيم خليفة)deputy of Head of the Police in Hama.
8.       Brigadier (Muqaddam) Muhammad Ahmad Malhis, (محمد أحمد ملحس)
9.       Captain (Ra’id) Watheq Kanjo. (واثق كنجو)
10.   First Lieutenant Shadi Hunidy,  (شادي هندي) supervisor of the  torture in the Central Prison.
11.   Brigadier (Muqaddam) Sulaiman Jumaah,  (سليمان جمعة)supervisor of the torture in the Central Prison.
12.   First Sergeant (Musaad Awwal)  Ramiz Ali. (رامز علي)
13.   Colonel Suhail Sulaiman. (سهيل سليمان)
14.   Sergeant Anwar al-Hasan.  (أنور الحسن)

This is what the reality of what is happening in Hama. 
“Never think that Allah is oblivious of what the unjust are doing” Peace be with you.

I am not sure of the correct translation of the following military ranks:  Muqaddam;  Musaad Awwal, and Musaad.