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My Mother, Sami, Syrian Revolution Journal

Revolution Journal – March 2011

Revolution Journal – March 2011

During the first two weeks of March my friend and I decided to rewrite the commentary for the documentary to avoid any kind of dangerous implications. We were trying to avoid being arrested since we managed to do that before, during the January candle march, and the February silent sit-in. Any kind of actual filming in Syria requires a government permission, and the country that seemed quiet and serene was actually boiling and ready to explode.

Some of the detainees who were arrested during the February sit-in were released, but many others were kept under detention. Activists were trying to mobilize a protest, but my friend advised me not to get involved because of my mother’s illness. I took that advice, which I still find to be the best anyone gave me so far.

During the two weeks following the Hareeka semi-protest, we were joking about how scared those people were of being considered “protesters”. Their clear message of “supporting” Bashar while protesting against police corruption was hilarious. We actually kept using the minister of interior’s quote to ask for undesereved apologies.

On March 15th 2011, a protest started from the Omayyad Mosque in Damascus asking for more freedoms. Other activists went to protest in front of the Ministry of Interior asking for “the release of all political prisoners and for a clear plan of political reform” on Wednesday March, 16, 2011. Both protests were faced by brutal attacks from secret police officers, and 32 protesters near the ministry of interior in Marjeh were arrested.

Before we even manage to get news about those detainees, we saw on the news the protests in Deraa and Homs. It was moving and worrying at the same time. I never forgot what the regime did to Hama. I remember the first time I went there with my family on a visit after the Hama Massacre; I said, “when are we going to arrive to Hama?” This memory haunted me for days, and when some people asked if I have a slight suspicion that it might be actually a conspiracy, I just said, “no, the regime is murderous and I don’t trust anything they say”.

On Friday, 18 March 2011, when the first big protests by people started to happen, my mother was able to move for the first time after long sessions of radiotherapy; another memorable day. I remember her on her bed, I couldn’t even sit down to watch the news, I was standing up there, with a big smile, wanting to be with these people, even though I never believed in this kind of protesting; my expression of resistance is simply silent/candle sit-ins. Nonetheless, I wanted to be there, my mother felt it and asked me not to go on a demonstration. I didn’t respond to her.

The strange thing about what happened later is that most of us knew exactly whom to trust and whom to avoid. It went without even asking that my closest friends are anti-regime – we started looking for people similar to us. My friends knew that I had been doing a research about the Syrian constitutions and the changes that occurred within their articles throughout the changes in political powers in Syria. Almost all of them knew that I believed that we have always had constitutional problems with every constitution the country had. They also knew that I have many friends from Deraa and that I love those people for everything they are, so, they all asked the same question; Why Deraa? “I have no idea. People from Deraa don’t move arbitrary; they follow their tribal traditions, so something bad must have happened”, I said. It took us two days with the media blackout to be sure of what had happened.

Bouthaina Shaaban [V.1 & 2] held a press conference on the 20th of March 2011; it was offending to any sane mind. She went through another “conspiracy theory” using the claim that Deraa is a “borderline governorate” to suggest that “infiltrators” were causing the disturbance of peace in the city. Stupidly enough, they forgot that all governorates in Syria have borderlines with neighboring countries except for the only governorate in which they had destroyed its main city almost 29 years before; Hama. With this press conference the “Theory of Mondassin”[1] was introduced to the Syrian people.

21 March is Mother’s Day in Syria; it became to me and to my friends the day of our mother, Syria. My cancer patient mother was waiting for the evaluation of her radiotherapy and wanted me to go with her to Hama to be sure I am not on any protest anywhere – before we left Damascus, my sister called to tell me that the secret police started to ask questions about me. How amazing! Only 5 days into the revolution and I became under their scrutiny. Lucky me!

My mother decided to stay in Damascus for Mother’s Day to keep an eye on me. Little did she know that I was the one suggesting to my friends that we should wait until the “idiot” shows up and give an official statement. After all, the chants and banners did not ask for a drastic change in powers in Syria. During the first two weeks of the revolution, chants were “No Fear Anymore” and “Freedom”; nobody said “People want to topple/overthrow the regime, not back then anyway.

My gay friends started avoiding me; I made it clear to them that my real wish is to see all Assads behind bars, along with a few hundred others. I wasn’t in a gay mood back then anyway, everything around me felt “so ungay”.

A fortnight of mental torture passed before his excellence, Mr. Idiocy himself, appeared on TV, [V.3] in the parliament, smiling. Suddenly, all the satires I had read about dictators felt too short to describe the scenery around him. It was a “zoo”, however, he was nothing but an “Irish” [2] [3] crow.

I remember that day vividly; my friend and I decided to go to our favorite café, which Bradley Secker knows, to watch the “show” together, since most of that café’s clientele were actually going on a pro-Assad rally. To our surprise, members of parliaments started, on public televised live broadcast, singing, reciting poetry and glorifying the crow. It felt like a Syrian distortion of the “Got Talent Show”; “Parliament’s Got Talent”.

They interrupted him too many times that I wished he had that “X” button to “disqualify” them, but the idiot obviously enjoyed it and kept laughing while people in Deraa and Homs were being killed, until he finally said, “There’s no grey area. You’re either with us, (i.e. the regime) or against us”, and suddenly, without any clear plan of how the country is going to deal with the upraise, he concluded his so-called speech, with the MP’s applauding and chanting for him.

My friend and I decided to leave and get drunk. That asshole just pushed us into starting our active movement in the revolution; we just needed a long drinking night before we start our hard work. I, obviously, concluded that night with my favorite Tunisian butt.

——————————-

[1] Mondassin = infiltrators – plural of Mondass = infiltrator
[2] Crows in Irish Mythology are associated with the goddess of wars. Refer to Wikipedia for more information
[3] I apologize to the great Irish people and their crows. It was used only for writing reasons, no offence guys!

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V. 1 B. Shaaban – English

V. 2 B. Shaaban – Arabic – No subtitles

V.3 Assad’s first speech – Complete – No subtitles

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