The Revolutionary Cannot Speak

We were taught that the sun does not always shine
We were taught
Thousands mirrors worth a truthful face

We tried to unlearn, those many lines our memory cannot forsake
The revolution, we repeated, the revolution is the solution
A task we may never undertake

Our revolution is pure, and it is not White
It’s grounded and rooted in our sinful eyes

We are the people
We are the words of wisdom
Your books and think-tanks so eloquently did not foresee

The power lies in people
The Black Palestinian painfully teaches us

Why do I feel that I’ll soon be the last Syrian alive
40, 000 corpses can never lie
They lay underneath our sacred soil
They haunt us in protests
Occupy our banners
and online profiles

A burden I cannot bear
So like others, I long for the day I join the Shuhada

I cannot be the last Syrian alive
I cannot be the Syrian who left, and still alive

You think “critically” of our raw revolution, you say
You think and cite our savagery with references of youtube videos
You are as powerful as the states you oppose
States silence us with machine guns
They send us sleepless killers in black suits
States fight among each other
We have learned the drill

But you, like the White, speak on behalf of us
You are the intellectual whose privileged voice silenced our indigenous voices
You’re no friend of mine
The leftist, feminist and the pro Palestinian activist
Are names of spaces you proudly occupy
To me, they’re just another privileged class
You made it possible to become my enemy

Yes, I have said the word “enemy”
And I would say it in the class you teach
Below the many articles you publish
Where you could tell the world how my struggle isn’t consistent with yours

What is your struggle, I wonder
When you’re the diasporic subject and I am the postcolonial
I stand in front of systems, machines and propaganda
In my besieged land

Your battle has become my dream of freedom
Your intellect has become another bullet in my chest
A “friendly fire,” I do not call it

I am being silenced by your pen

The revolutionary cannot speak
She may never speak for years to come
She writes in her mother tongue
Speaks folky words and songs your memory can no longer grasp
The revolutionary speaks to her gender-less comrades
And you
The powerful male intellectual
You are not one.

Interview with Deir Ezzor Press Network (DPN)

My article on #ArteArabRevolutions blog:

Many Syrians believe that Syrian citizen journalism do provide a more comprehensive and accurate coverage of the Syrian revolution than mainstream media’s, be it Arab or international.

Deir Ezzor Press Network
  is one of the famous pages on Facebook that publishes almost professional reports on the revolutionary, yet marginalized, city of Deir Ezzor. We have been lucky to have the admin of the page, Tarek*, speak to us despite the difficult situation Deir Ezzor is going through.

“Wait a minute please, the potatoes are almost done now.” Tarek told me through Skype voice call. Deir Ezzor has been besieged for the past five months and there isn’t much food left as a consequence except what the farmers of Der Ezzor grow; potatoes and grain.

Tarek is still a university student, he left school to commit himself to the revolution. He created this page from his dorm room when the revolution began in Daraa:

“There weren’t demonstrations in Syria at the time but in Daraa, but we were in coordination with Daraa activists and we helped them upload their videos since internet was cut in their city.”


I asked Tarek how he would describe FSA’s role in the city, especially that some have been critical of FSA’s operations against thugs and pro-regime intelligence. His comment was:

“As a media activist, I don’t work with FSA revolutionaries, but many of my friends are volunteering to join them. Who are the FSA in Deir Ezzor but my neighbors and people you’ve always seen in the streets of your city. These people have experienced much violence in the past 19 months that they believe they should protect their homes and loved ones. Mistakes? Well how can you expect otherwise? They’re not trained nor given high tech weapons, they’re using primitive and simple weapons to defend our lives, our lives, which many media channels have turned them to numbers. My life is a number to you, I might be dead tomorrow, but my friends have joined FSA to save my life and others’. Over 2630 have been killed in Deir Ezzor since the start of the revolution. ”

To read the rest of the article please click here.

UPDATED: Syrian Authorities Arrest Red-Crescent Board Member Raed Al-Tawil

Raed Tawil with his child.

UPDATE: Today we’ve just learned that Raed Al-Tawil is being subjected to monstrous torture and that he is being held in Al-Khatib state security branch in Damascus.


Syrian security forces have arrested Muhammad Raed Al-Tawil, a red-crescent volunteer, on Thursday noon 8-11-2012 from the headquarters of the Damascus branch of the Syrian Red Crescent where he works.  No reasons were known for such arrest.

36 year-old Al-Tawil is married with one child and has been volunteering for the Syrian Red Crescent for more than 18 years. He is a board member of Damascus branch and had contributed in the responsive process management to the Zinzun dam disaster 2002, the war on Iraq 2003 and the 2006 Lebanon War.

Before his arrest, Al-Tawil was managing the emergency service provided by the Syrian Red Crescent to all parties, committing by doing so to the principle of neutrality.

Al-Tawil suffers from a previous injury in the back due to a previous mission and hence he is in constant need of medical care and medications.

No information has yet come to light on Al-Tawil’s whereabouts or how he is being treated inside his detention cell which raises serious concerns about his safety and life, especially that the charges against him are still unknown.

We call on the Syrian authorities to disclose full information on the fate of Muhammad Raed Al-Tawil and to release him immediately and unconditionally along with all prisoners and detainees in Syria.

Freedom to Raed, freedom to all Syria detainees!

Support Raed’s freedom and share his page on Facebook here

Please sign and share our petition calling for Raed’s freedom along with the rest of Syria’s paramedic.

Finally I want to thank the Gulf Center for Human Rights for supporting our call to free our beloved friend Raed Al-Tawil.

How Peaceful Revolutionaries Turned into Relief Activists in Damascus

My second article for Arab Revolutions blog is now up!

A group of Syrians fleeing violence in their country, walk towards the Turkish border, near Reyhanli. (AP)

“With the start of a new academic year the regime has been emptying the schools from forced migrants. Where will those migrants who lost their homes go after regime shelled their cities and neighborhoods? You constantly feel helpless before these events.

There are families in Douma, a suburb of Damascus, living on 20USD a month, 20USD! Assad speaks of concessions, fine, these are Syrian citizens who are now homeless, isn’t this the state’s responsibility? The Syrian government has resigned all its responsibilities towards its citizens. Instead, the government is waging war against them.”

Ruba*, a relief NGO employee in Syria, explains how the urgency of the growing tragedy of forced migrants has forced many peaceful revolutionaries to work as relief activists:

“The regime is purposely creating a humanitarian crisis and forcing activists to deal with it.”

“We, the middle class, flourished during Assad’s era. We enjoyed new services, and we knew that our economic situation has gotten better, but only at the expense of the working class. The very people who are now leading the revolution are the ones who were neglected by the state. They lost their jobs and homes are scattered in gardens and schools depending on our aid: middle class aid. Our role in this revolution is completely different from theirs, we have privileges and a lot to lose; they don’t. We’re bunch of hypocrites.” Ruba leans her head back against the sofa and stares as water drops from the air-conditioning on her living room floor.

Read rest of the article here. Check the French translation of the article available here  and German translation here.

Syrian Revolution Bookmarks #2

1- Foreign Policy publishes a number of Kafranbel banners, a city in Idleb that’s considered to draw and write the revolution’s most creative posters:

A town in northwestern Syria has become the creative center of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad. Since the beginning of the uprising, the residents of Kafr Anbel have drawn signs that skewer the Assad regime and express outrage that the world has not done more to stop the killing in Syria.

The signs come in two basic varieties. Some are cartoons, often drawing their inspiration from Western movies or TV shows, which lampoon the Syrian government and its allies, notably Russian President Vladimir Putin. Others are straightforward, text-only banners that call for NATO intervention in Syria or arming the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA). Many of the signs are written in English.

Raed Fares, an activist in Kafr Anbel, explained to FP that the town’s residents chose to draw in English, rather than Arabic, explicitly to reach an international audience. “It’s very important to send our message to all the world,” he said. “And English is the public language.”

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LCC: Regarding the Regime’s Crimes Against Palestinians

Below is Local Coordination Committee’s statement on the murder of senior Hamas official Kamal Ghnaja and what has been happening recently in several Palestinian camps in Syria. The statement came after several Palestinians have reported on Facebook that regime is trying to cause problems between Syrian and Palestinian communities in Palestinian camps. Palestinians in Syria in support of the revolution have created several pages on Facebook to report daily on the situation in the camps, and on Palestinians’ role in the Syrian revolution. Palestinian activists say that more than 150 Palestinians martyred in Syria, around 700 injured, and more than 35,000 detained. The statement goes as follows:

Since the beginning of the Revolution, the regime tried to fray the social fabric of Syrian society in an attempt to derail the Revolution’s goals of and demand for freedom, dignity, and justice in a civil state.

Due to outstanding public awareness and behavior, the regime’s attempts to drag the country into civil war have thus far failed, despite its oppression, violence, and repression.

Senior Hamas official Kamal Ghnaja was killed yesterday 27-6-2012 by regime Shabiha in his home in Qudsayya. Signs of torture was found on his body.

The regime is clearly counting on creating conflict and sectarian violence and igniting strife between Syrians and Palestinians by recruiting drug dealers, drug users, and other criminals into the shabiha. These shabiha enter Palestinian refugee camps under the guise of “safeguarding the camps,” yet commit murder and engage in kidnapping. The most recent evidence of this is the assassination of Mr. Kamal Ghanjeh (Abu Anas Nizar), a Hamas leader who was tortured to death by the regime’s shabiha. The shabiha then set his house on fire to destroy the evidence of their heinous crime.

The Local Coordination Committees in Syria (LCC) offers its deepest condolences to our Palestinian brothers and sisters, who have demonstrated the unity between our two peoples since the beginning of our Revolution. We condemn the regime’s criminal acts against Palestinians in Syria, and affirm that the regime’s cowardly attempts to destroy our brotherly relations and common objectives between the two peoples will not succeed. We reaffirm that only as free people can we be capable of regaining control of our rights and our occupied territories. The battle against tyranny is the same in Palestine and Syria [only Palestine is under occupation].

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Statement Read at Front Lines HR Defenders’ Award Event – Full Text

Thank you all for the kind words, but the award goes to Syria!

Below is my statement that my colleague at the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, Dlshad Othman, read at the ceremony yesterday:

Dear friends, colleagues and comrades,

Last night, there were many explosions heard in the city of Damascus, gun shots heard in my neighborhood, it has become the norm to fall asleep when hearing clashes in my neighborhood. We spent the night watching footage of a new massacre in Qubair, Hama, that followed Houla massacre couple of weeks ago.

I am writing this to tell you that it’s not easy to write a simple speech for such a kind and humbling event when all this is happening in your day. Then I figured, writing what prevents you from writing, paves the way for you to write.

Dear friends, colleagues and comrades,

Beautiful friend, Bassel Shehada, martyred by a mortar grenade in Homs on 28-5-2012. In this photo he was training activists in Homs on how to use the camera to cover regime violations of human rights. Bassel Left Fulbright scholarship to study film-making in the US and chose to be in Syria at this “historical moment,” as he once told me.

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