Razan and I | OpenDemocracy

My latest article on Razan Zaitouneh published yesterday on OpenDemocracy in collaboration with SyriaUntold:

10172824_691852620878867_7378733230773807252_nBetween me and Razan there are those tiny stories that do not belong to and cannot be classified as one of those typical close relationships between friends. We weren’t friends. To me, she was the woman whose path is always crossing mine, a hard working woman who values human life more than any other values favored by other humans. She believes everyone is equal and everyone deserves the same treatment from law. Razan is a true human rights activist who doesn’t just write statements, but actually commits to advocating human rights and equality in her daily life.

Razan cannot be racist, sexist, Islamophobic, homophobic or carry a prejudice, she only targets abusers. An abuser is he who commits a form of injustice against another. Period. Razan’s idea of human life is this simple, and it’s quite admirable to see it remain the same during the world’s most recent crisis. That’s Razan, that’s my mentor; despite knowing her name neither the world, nor many Syrians, even know her.

Click here to read the full text.

Medical Student Samih Al-Bahra Arbitrary Detained at Risk of being Tortured & Killed

I never heard of his name before, Samih Al-Bahra. I guess that’s what it means to leave Damascus; you hear of new detainees, new faces, for the ones you already know are almost outside now – they too left Damascus.

سميح البحرة_n

Samih Al-Bahra, Medical student in his fifth year, detained in April 30th 2013.

I received a message on my Facebook couple of days ago from a close friend asking me to blog about the detention of Samih Al-Bahra who was detained on April 30th 2013. My friend was very worried, she knows of many friends who were detained then got severely tortured, some of them were tortured to death. Like my colleague at the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, Ayham Ghazzoul, a medical student who was detained in campus, tortured in campus, then brought to Air Force Intelligence‘s cell injured, and was left there to die in four days without being hospitalized. Ayham died in the arms of his cell-mate, who told us the story once he was released. That’s how you know of a detainee’s story in Syria, and that’s how you know of martyr’s story. Closure, is not exactly what you get, but something close to it.

I don’t know Samih, but I know Assad regime that arbitrary detains people, whether they’re activists or not, torture them and many times to death, hold them incommunicado, for months, a year, two years (if we’re only talking about the revolution).

I don’t know Samih but I know that any detainee in Syria is a risk of torture and death.

I know that Ayham Ghazzoul was brutally murdered by the Syrian state in a governmental institution.

Ayham Azzam Rajeh, who was a student at Pharmacy college, died under torture in May 2nd 2013.

Ali Shidad Haj Omar, was a detainee in Tudmor prison, killed under torture in May.

Kamal Mahmoul Mokalled was killed under torture in 30 April 2013.

Bassel Mahmoud Rashid, from Nabek village, was a detainee and killed under torture in April 11th 2013. He was his parent’s only child. 21 years old.

The list goes on. I wish I can say it doesn’t. As someone who was detained, I know that we can save a detainee’s life once we mention their names on our stupid online accounts; twitter, blogs, Facebook. Can you imagine? You can save a human life by just a click and a few words? It’s media, it’s letting the regime know we can beat it together. It’s humanizing a detainee who’s becoming a number.

Write for Samih, write for every detainee. You might be saving their lives.

I’ll be updating this post as soon as I get further information about Samih.


“If the “MiG” didn’t show up, it could’ve been just another ordinary day.
But it was there, looking for love to shatter, and blow away the features of my exile the “camp”, Palestine’s twin.
The bedroom, the beautiful nights and the morning coffee were all exposed to the streets and the main square. At that very moment, Dunia my love and my wife, was dead to me.
This movie is about the Palestinian refugee camp “al Yarmouk” on December 16th, when it was attacked by the Syrian regime’s “MiGs”, as a punishment for sheltering displaced Syrians & Palestinians whom lost their neighborhoods due to previous attacks.
It may seem the “MiGs” aimed to knock down the place, but the real target has been languishing the spirit people of the camp had. Yet, they’d never settle to that, even if the price will be an endless exile.”  From the description of the film, by Bidayyat, audiovisual arts.

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.

Anonymous Syria Hacks KasperskyClub.ru Website

There are several pages on Facebook that carry the name “Syria Anonymous” but none of them claimed hacking Kasperskyclub.ru website yesterday. In any case, the guys are cool, their message could be written in much better way, especially the last two parts where they were addressing the Syrian “minorities” encouraging to join the revolution as if they’re not.

I am getting tired of the assumption that “minorities” are scared and that they’re supportive of Assad whereas every other day in Syria we hear the story of a martyr or a detainee coming from a minor conventional community, be it Durzi, Christian, Samuli or Alawite. Seriously people, stop trying to make our revolution look like a Sunni-Muslim revolution, cause it’s not.

But I liked that the independence flag on the screen is linked to one of my favorite revolutionary sites: Violation Documentation Center (VDC); your number one source on documented states of martyrs and detainees in Syria.

Continue reading

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 https://www.facebook.com/RaedaltawilFirstaider

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.