I want to share my experience in Washington DC at the Syrian Revolution Anniversary with those around me. I may not have the best use of words, but I want to use my voice to stand with the Syrian People. To stand against the indescribable brutality going into its fifth consecutive year. I feel as though I have no other choice but to use my voice while the evil continues in Syria.
The short five days I spent with the Syrian American Community in DC have proved to be some of the most impactful and memorable days of my life. I listened to one hero after the next share their personal stories and connections with Syria, which proved to be very difficult to digest and absorb. I found myself trembling for days, unable to wrap my head around this horrific reality. My pain is deeply personal, and you may wonder why I want to share it with the world. I use it as a way to share just a piece of the pain and compassion in my heart with those in my life. I have the hope that it will spark a small passion in each one of you. We must humanize Syria, and this is my way of doing so for you.
The pain I feel is the pain of the Syrian People, and my pain will continue until we see Syria set free. Our Syrian brothers and sisters are dying, and they are no different than any of our other brothers and sisters. Each one is a human being, just like you and me. During the conference on Saturday I wrote,
“As I sit here attempting to digest the horrific crimes and realities of Syria, I look into the eyes of the world’s most beautiful souls.”
I was surrounded by compassion and resiliency. I met a survivor named Qusai Zakarya, who had survived some of the harshest conditions imaginable. He survived a chemical attack. He witnessed his friends and family starve before him. He listened to missiles drop around him and his loved ones. He was eventually forced to exile for his personal safety, and the safety of his family.
Qusai offered me his condolences. I was baffled. I wanted to say, “YOU are condoling ME? It should be ME condoling YOU!” Qusai was not the only one, people continued to offer me support throughout the week. I couldn’t imagine how they even had it left in them to do so after years of horrific pain and suffering. Qusai and the other Syrian Americans truly touched my heart on a deep level.
I saw resilience, strength and courage in everyone surrounding me. These individuals have suffered more trauma than one should in an entire lifetime. Many of them are in a constant state of grieving, as they are surrounded by this harsh reality all day, every day.
Mariam Jalabi, the founding member of the Syrian Non-Violence Movement, shared a story of a woman who pleaded to see her children just one more time. For doing so, she was shot in the head. Mariam shared that, “This is Syria. This is the story of Syria.”
Why does it take a personal connection to make us feel and suffer with the other suffering people in this world? We all live in one small world, and for peace to prevail, we must unite as human beings.
We are witnessing genocide in its purest form. Did we not all grow up learning about the Holocaust? My heart is full of shame for humanity right now. How can we all continue to watch from afar? How can one human being let this suffering be normal for another?
I landed in Phoenix during traffic hour, so instead of fighting it, I decided to visit a friend in the area. A friend I respect with all my heart. The conversations began with joyful hugs and reunions… The ambiance quickly shifted when I shared just a few short stories of the Syrian People. My friends could not believe what they were hearing.
This confirmed my desire to humanize Syria and the Syrian People. Mainstream media focuses on Da’esh (ISIS) to the extent that the Syrian people have been forgotten. We may hear about one or two tragedies, but what about the other millions of personal stories? Da’esh is only responsible for a small portion of the atrocities inside Syria. Assad created the environment for them to gain power, but his regime has been committing for worse atrocities for years.
Assad is the heart of the problem in Syria, yet our media does not expose this reality. We, as global citizens, hear and see nothing of this on our mainstream media. Let this serve as a reminder of the importance of self-awareness. We must educate ourselves through other outlets, and we must challenge the information we receive.
Assad has committed the worst forms of torture that a human can imagine. He has used every method of killing, including chemical weapons, which Da’eash (ISIS) does not even posses. Ghassan Hitto said it well, “Assad is the source, and the West should be ashamed of focusing on Da’esh”. Both Assad and Da’esh serve the same purpose, and that is to kill the Syrian People. We can not let Assad remain invisible to the world. If we are not hearing about the reality of Assad’s regime, then how are we as global citizens able to respond?
Maybe a number higher than 200,000 is too much for the human mind to comprehend; the indescribable brutality to difficult to digest. This is why we need to focus on the stories of these human beings. They may be thousands of miles away, but they still walk on the same earth as you and me. May our society come together and provide Syria with the freedom and liberty it so deserves.
Politics aside, Syrian people deserve to have a voice. We must change how people see this issue. We have to work together as a global community, and respect each other’s views in order to move forward and raise awareness. Give your neighbor the right to feel and believe what is right for them. This should be the backbone of every religious or spiritual person.
March 18th, 2015. Four years later. The world continues to close their eyes, and the Syrian people continue to suffer due to the hypocrisy of the world. Lets say “never again”, and actually mean it.
Written by a global citizen of the world