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Revolution Journal: A Few Days in Aleppo

Revolution Journal: A Few Days in Aleppo

Aleppo is all over the news now. It is said that Aleppo has suffered the worst destruction of a major city in the last 50 years. A year ago, things were different.

A year ago, the uprising in Syria was still nonviolent. Peaceful unarmed protesters were still defying the regime’s killing machines; shabbiha and army soldiers. However, Aleppo was still hibernating.

My conversations with my friends in Aleppo always ended up badly. “Remaining silent and passive about the situation means that you endorse the killing, do you really accept that children are killed all over the country?”. This was my question to everybody who said, “We want to go on with our lives”, and I always got almost the same responses, “If we remain silent, nothing will happen here.”, and “when people in Aleppo revolted and went on strikes on the 1970’s, other Syrians left us alone to die and suffer.” I always ended up saying, “those who kill children will not hesitate to kill yours one day.”

On the other hand, many were saying that they couldn’t do anything because the regime allowed the Berri clan to arm themselves again and become shabbiha once more after a few years of banning their activities within the city of Aleppo.  Some told me that they know that people wanted and wished to do something, but they were hesitant and they didn’t know what to do.

I had lived in Aleppo for a long time before, and I have always witnessed the Aleppians resentment towards the Baath and the Assads. To me it was strange that people in Aleppo were still silent after more than 7 months into the uprising. Just before I went there, one of my friends who always wanted to “go on with his life”, managed to get a contract in KSA. Once he arrived he started showing his support of the “revolution”, saying that “people in Aleppo are upset!”.

The road from Damascus seemed even sadder than me. Tanks were all over the road to Aleppo. Back then, the anti-Syrian-Army uniform sentiment was growing in me faster than the worry about my safety. On the way, I felt I made the right choice.

Because I had to wait to be sure that I am OK to leave, I decided to go to Aleppo. I met with some activists who wanted to do something and I met with ones who were content with a Facebook status every other week. I witnessed a fear I hadn’t seen in people’s eyes for a long time. Aleppo was still in the pre-15-March-2011 “state of fear”, while Syria was near the end of that year, after burying the fear for good.

Luckily for me, there was a protest in Salah al-Din, and being me, I couldn’t but join. I called a friend the next day telling him I was in Aleppo, and he immediately said, “were you in Salah al-Din yesterday?” It was funny to me, but it made me feel that I need to leave as soon as possible. I didn’t actually care about being killed while protesting, but I didn’t want to be arrested by the fucked up mukhabarat. I tried it before, and I was in a fluctuated state of mind back then; I could have put all my friends at risk if I was ever arrested. I also didn’t want to go through the “guaranteed” torture sessions.

Aleppo seemed too dull to me. Nothing was happening and nothing seemed to be about to happen. I felt I needed to leave because the sense of stability and indifference in a Syrian city almost killed me. Thankfully, I got the call just before the situation in Aleppo triggered whatever was about to explode in me. I left Aleppo on the 31st of October, to arrive to Gaziantep, to become yet another Syrian exiled/refugee in Turkey.

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