Declaration of a Shared Fate

There are two areas in Syria in which people are actually dying from starving. People are dying because there is nothing on the shelves of their kitchen. The kids keep telling their parents: I am hungry, mom!
This is the “resistance” Arabs Left are fighting for: starving Palestinians to death!
Sign and share widely.

Beyond Compromise - الثَّوابِت

We, the undersigned, in accordance with our belief in the shared fate of the Syrian and Palestinian people, and our wish for the unity of Syrian territory and safety for all Syrians, draw the attention of the international community, on the occasion of Geneva II, to the fact that the Palestinians who have lived in Syria since 1948 share the same fate as their Syrian brothers and sisters.

Since the beginning of the Syrian uprising, Palestinians and Syrians have both suffered the abuses of the Syrian security services, supported by some of the Palestinian militias (the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command).  

Moreover, Yarmouk Camp, the biggest Palestinian community in Syria, has been subject to the most repressive measures at the hands of the Syrian regime. The camp has been under partial siege for one year, and total siege for the past six months, leading…

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Razan Olive I

I don’t know how to write this post. It’s been a while since a shed I tear on a friend’s detention – it happens a lot, it happens to almost everyone who decides to join the revolution against the state.

But it’s Razan. Tireless Razan. Stubborn Razan, who defines the word “courage” with the amount of work – pressure – she deals with daily in besieged Ghouta, and before that in checkpoint-ed Damascus.

Douma, where Razan and her colleagues are based, is a small city with no electricity whatsoever, not enough food, incredibly expensive living conditions due to regime blockade. For example, the fuel costs there 800 SP. It costs 50 SP before the revolution.

Razan the woman revolutionary in a male-dominated military war.

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“Freedom to Razan Zeitounah, Kafranbel, Idleb”.

I don’t know her much personally, we are certainly not friends. We met twice in our life time. Once couple of years before the revolution and once few days prior to the revolution. We though, are good at exchanging emails, I am the who usually sends her lots of emails about work and possible cooperation and many times asking for her opinions in matters related to my safety.

I have a confession to make and perhaps it’s a weird one but I’ll say it anyways: I am jealous at any other activist who speaks casually to her and who gets to talk to her personally. I am jealous at the Facebook “likes” she puts on other mutual friends but never – yes I am writing these words- on my statuses..

Razan is my mentor, she doesn’t know it. And I am jealous if she prefers other activists over me.

In this post I shall write what I know of Razan before the revolution. I shall write the next post on her work during the revolution.

Razan Zeitounah Before the Revolution

Image1- Razan’s strength is legendary. She never left Syrian lands ever since the revolution started March 2011. She left her home before the revolution started knowing that the regime will raid her home – she was banned from traveling since 2007 or 2008 due to her work in human rights. She was the founder of (http://shril-sy.info/) a website that’s down now – since there was no time for her to renew it. Syrian Human Right Information Link (SHRIL) was Razan’s archive site that combined all statements and information of state’s human rights violations against its citizens. It was a priceless website even though its idea was simple, but to me it was the number one information on Syria’s underground uncensored world.

2- Razan used to visit political detainees and prisoners of conscious’ families and was closely in touch with them and checks on them and tries to get information on the detainees. She was actually one of the sources of Sednaya prison ‘s massacre occurred 2008. One prisoner was hiding a mobile telephone and managed to make a phone call to report on the massacre was being carried. Razan was one of those who followed the case closely – of course all underground.

Image3- Razan was one of the tens of Syrians who attended opposition salons and discussed public affair in Syria especially with relation to state corruption and dictatorship. Such meetings were arranged with few trusted circles and many of those who attended the meetings are all revolutionaries now and most of them actually hold positions in either Syrian National Council or Syrian Coalition. (Razan decided to stay in Syria and be a revolutionary instead).

4- Razan was the lawyer who guided us, bloggers, with the campaign to free Syrian blogger Tareq Baiasi. Tareq was I think the first blogger to be detained in Syria and the campaign was the first of its kind as far as I know in Syrian blogsphere. Blogger Ahmad Abu Al-Kher was the founder of the campaign and I joined to help with the English page.

Razan was helping us and teaching us how to advocate for Tareq’s freedom and how to write statements and that was the first time I myself ever read articles of the Syrian constitution.

1476565_572691732801141_28760912_nOne incident I remember vividly about Razan and I, an incident that made me I think mature a bit, is when she yelled at me for calling another fellow blogger a traitor upon our disagreement on Israel’s war on Gaza 2008. I met her and her husband, Wael Hamada (who’s also kidnapped with Razan) in Old Damascus and we all walked to their place. I sat next to her and looked at me and said in a firm tone something like:

“We don’t accuse one another of treason. This is not our language. This is the regime’s language that use such treason discourse against its citizens to discredit them.”

I don’t think I look up to someone as I look up to Razan. She is the one person in this world. The one person. Who can yell at me non-stop for five minutes and I’d say not a word back at her. Because I know her, she’s as harsh on herself as she is on the people around her.

I want her back walking on the lands that deserve her. I want her to breath the air of freedom she works so hard to attain. I want her safe and I want her back.

Freedom to Zeitounah (Olive in Arabic), Samira, Nazem and Wael. Down with the criminals who kidnapped them!

Statement by the Violation Documentation Center (VDC)

A statement by the Violation Documentation Center (VDC) and the Local Development and Small Projects Support Office (LDSPS) regarding the kidnapping of activists Razan Zeitouneh, Samira Khalil, Wael Hamada and Nazim Hamadi.

10/12/2013

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Samira Khalil

 An unknown armed group kidnapped last night 9/10/2013, human rights lawyer and activist Razan Zeitouneh, activist and ex-political prisoner Samira Khalil, activist and Razan’s spouse Wael Hamada, and the lawyer and poet Nazim Hamadi from the office of the VDC and LDSPS in Douma, Damascus suburbs.

Besides being an icon of the Syrian revolution, Razan cofounded the Local Coordination Committees in Syria (LCC) and the Violation Documentation Center (VDC), which documents all human rights violations in Syria. She co-founded the local development and small projects support office (LDSPS) as well which aims to help the people in Syria generally, and in Eastern Ghouta more specifically, to provide basic needs and essential services and support to medical and development centers. Her and her colleagues work is very well recognized by the inhabitants in Ghouta.

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Nazem Hammadi

Her kidnapping and the kidnapping of her colleagues indicates yet again the endeavor of some to undermine any form of civil action to help Syrians in the liberated areas to rule and provide for themselves.

 We, at the VDC and LDSPS, condemn with the strongest words this kidnapping and ask for the immediate release of Razan, Samira, Wael and Nazim without any conditions.

ImageWe also hold all armed groups operating in the area accountable for the safety and safeguard of the Ghouta inhabitants and Razan and her colleagues. We hold them accountable as well for the safe release of Razan and her colleagues and their safe return to their homes. Such armed groups should ensure that such kidnapping in never repeated again in the future in the area they control.

The Dignity and Freedom revolution is undergoing one of its most critical moments now and we hope that it will be able to avoid this trap set from its enemies to undermine its credibility and stray its path.

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Wael Hamadeh

 

Violation Documentation Center in Syria
E-mail:     editor@vdc-sy.org
Websit:    www.vdc-sy.org
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/vdcsy
Twitter:    twitter.com/VDC_Syria

Human, Again

I am sitting in my office, on the ground – we don’t sit on chairs around here.

I am sitting in my office. My freaking office, that took me months to get. It took me months to get my close circle here take my work and believes on children rights seriously. It took me six months to get where I am today.

I am sitting in this office and feeling down. Very. I’ve been talking to my friends in another city telling them that I am moving in to where they are. I don’t think I can live here any longer.

I am tired. I can’t cry with someone here. I can’t speak my mind at all, with someone here.

I was talking to another female blogger living in the liberated part of her city- what she’s facing is the same as I am here.

My bed in the Summers. We use this net to sleep well from Mosquitoes.

My bed in the Summers. We use this net to sleep well from Mosquitoes.

It’s war and it’s a man’s wold. We women, revolutionary women, are trying our best to exist in such world and it’s exhausting. It’s too much work and battles every now and then and I am tired.

I have lots of work to do and yet I was browsing crochet women wear last night, haha..I mean, I never did that before..well except out of curiosity. But last night I did it with lust.

I want to go shopping, I want to look at the mirror and wear nice stuff. I want to do my hair nicely. I want to wear makeup. I want to go to the movies, I want to spend one month doing nothing but watching anime.

I want to see my family.

My family, on the 6th. of October it would be a whole year since I’ve last seen my family.

I used to nag on my dad, and he used to ignore me. I used to joke with my mom a lot. Go shopping with her. She hates it when I tag along with her on her shopping festivals.

I used to make fun of her diets. She keeps saying she’ll quit smoking and I keep telling her I won’t.

I miss my family. I miss my dad. Who’d let me do whatever – my thoughts here froze upon hearing the sound of MiG flying above of us. The FSA fighters are trying to fire at it but in vain. (Send us real weapons, will you? I’m trying to write a post here without worrying about dying).

I was talking about dad. Now I’ve lost the moment. Damn you, Bashar!

Anyways, I guess I miss normal life. I mean, I am happy here all the time but I guess sometimes I reach the point where I want to explode.

People ask me: “where are you from?” I say I am from Damascus but I am not. My mom is from Homs, but my dad is the son of a Palestinian who lost his home before Syrian independence. Who couldn’t return home due to the foundation of Israel.

Where I am from? Palestine? Syria? Damascus? Homs?

I belong to this revolution that exceeds its national boundaries. I love all revolutions. I love the revolutionaries who understand the meaning of it, its morals, its aspirations and its vision.

I don’t mind living like this, under shelling, no electricity and water, no friends and family. It’s the patriarchal traditions that are preventing my creativity. I have lots of things I want to do and I need to fight harder to make them happen.

I mean it when I said that shelling doesn’t bother me. It scares the hell out of me but I won’t leave because of it.

I won’t leave because of ISIS. I won’t leave because of patriarchy.

But I might leave if I am no longer functioning. So far I think I am.

Not sure why I wrote this post anymore, this airplane made me lose track.

Went to the media center to find out what happened with the airplane: the airplane fired something like cluster bombs but I am waiting for the video or pictures to verify. Lots of people wounded, mostly children. One child lost his arm.

UPDATE Sat 10th. 10:39 AM: one man martyred last night from his injuries.

This morning one man brought the below thing for the media center to take pictures of it. I don’t know what it is, the airplane fired a rocket that’s filled with twenty of these, each one of these carry the bombs that wounded almost 50 people last night.

IMAG2452 IMAG2453 IMAG2450 IMAG2451 IMAG2449

Group of Syrians Respond to Jeremy Bowen’s “Coverage” of #Syria

A group of Syrians inside Syria and abroad have put together a statement questioning Jeremy Bowen’s so-called coverage of Syria in his latest visit there. The statement goes as the following:

We are appalled by BBC’s Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen’s coverage from Damascus the last few weeks especially his coverage from Maloula, the historical Aramaic village. As the Middle East editor, Mr Bowen is scene as the expert who can provide fair coverage and in depth analysis of the situation wherever he travels. But in this very last trip, right after the chemical attack by government forces on Eastern Ghouta took place, we find Mr Bowen’s coverage showing the regime’s line without pausing the right questions for the audience.

For example, why Mr. Bowen didn’t visit the areas where the chemical attack took place? Why in his coverage of Damascus and the “normality” he didn’t tell the audience of how the situation for civilians was going only across the street from some areas he visited like Abassyeen square? And most importantly, he didn’t explain to us what really happened in Maloula? How was he allowed access there and not to other areas in Damascus where continuous government bombardment is taking place.?

Mr Bowen showed the story as the government wanted it to be portrayed, Islamist Jihadist and Al Qaeda linked attacking Christians in Maloula? Why the expert knowledgeable editor didn’t pause the question of the timing of the attack coinciding with President Obama’s attempt to have a strike against the regime?

There are tens of Christian villages around Homs and Hama and in Northern Syria that never been attacked over the last two years, and only now Maloula, the famous and historic place that the whole world can relate to is attacked?

Do we really know that Jabhat Al Nusra was behind the attack? On what basis Mr Bowen took it as a fact that Alnusra is behind the attack on the village? How can Mr Bowen say “The Americans are supporting the wrong side”?

As independent Syrian intellectuals and citizens, we always had faith and trust in the BBC World’s coverage of Syria, and here we make the distinction by the coverage of World and Arabic service where the latter has lost the credibility line in their coverage of Syria and were more bias to the regime.

The credibility and impartiality that the BBC editorial guidelines have held high in journalism have been absent in BBC Arabic coverage of Syria.

We respect highly the journalistic standards and ethics of the BBC as the leading organization in journalism and we hope the organization would clarify the points raised ahead and that the ME Editor Jeremy Bowen revisit his coverage and show a balanced explanation of the lines he used in his coverage.

The situation in Syria is not Al Qaeda versus Secular Assad regime; it is brutal dictatorship against people who took to the streets calling for dignity and freedom.

Yours Truly,
Group of Syrians inside Syria and abroad

المركز السوري للبحوث السياسات: تحليل في دور الضربة‎

انشر فيما يلي ملخص البحث, وفي الاسفل رابط تحميل البحث كاملا.

بالتعاون مع العديد من الباحثين والمختصين والمهتمين في المجتمع المدني السوري، يستكمل المركز السوري لبحوث السياسات في إطار مشروع استشراف بدائل الحل للأزمة السورية محاولة ربط البحوث والمعارف مع الخيارات السياسية بمنهجية علمية تشاركية، وفي هذه الدراسة يقدم المركز تحليلاً لسيناريوهات الأزمة التي اعتمدت على استقصاء لآراء الخبراء السوريين لتحديد أكثر السيناريوهات احتمالاً وأكثرها تفضيلاً، ورسم خارطة الفاعلين في الأزمة السورية. ويقدم تحليلاً لدور الضربة الامريكية المحتملة في سيناريوهات الأزمة السورية.

وتخلص الدراسة المرفقة إلى الرسائل التالية:

1-    تعتزم الإدارة الأمريكية توجيه ضربة عسكرية “محدودة” للنظام في سورية في وقت قريب بقرار من خارج مجلس الأمن، لاضعاف قدرات النظام العسكري بخاصة فيما يتعلق بالأسلحة الكيميائية حسب المصرح به من قبل الإدارة الأمريكية، وتقوم نتائج هذه الدراسة على هذا النطاق للضربة.

2-    الضربة المحتملة تزيد من احتمال سيناريوهات استمرار النزاع المسلح، والحسم العسكري للمعارضة، وانهيار الدولة، بينما تقلل إلى حد كبير من فرص سيناريوهات الحل السياسي وبطبيعة الحال سيناريو الحسم العسكري للنظام.

3-    بحسب تحليل حجم القوى الفاعلة ودرجة دعمها لكل من سيناريوهات الأزمة، تظهر الدراسة أن الأكثر استفادة من الضربة المحتملة على المستوى الداخلي هي الكتائب الإسلامية وفي السيناريوهات الثلاثة المرجحة نتيجة الضربة. أما على المستوى الخارجي، فإن إسرائيل الأكثر استفادة من الضربة كونها الداعم الأول لسيناريوهي استمرار النزاع المسلح وانهيار الدولة، أما أمريكا فهي داعمة لهذين السيناريوهين ولكن بدرجة أقل. وتعتبر السعودية وقطر مستفيدين من الضربة المحتملة كونهم يدعمون بدرجات متفاوتة السيناريوهات الثلاثة التي تعزز الضربة من احتمال حدوثها.

4-    أظهرت نتائج الدراسة أن أميركا تدعم بالدرجة الأولى سيناريو المفاوضات بثقل خارجي، ولكن مع قيامها بالضربة فهي تقوم بالتقليل بشكل كبير من احتمالية حصول سيناريو المفاوضات على حساب زيادة الدعم لسيناريوهات أخرى مثل استمرار النزاع وانهيار الدولة، الأمر الذي يظهر تناقضاً بين أولويات الضربة وأولويات أمريكا بحسب تحليل السيناريوهات في الأزمة السورية.

5-    ستزيد الضربة بالدرجة الأولى من احتمالية حدوث سيناريو استمرار النزاع المسلح إضافة إلى تعزيز حصول سيناريو انهيار الدولة واللذان يعتبران أكثر السيناريوهات دعماً من قبل إسرائيل والكتائب الإسلامية، وبالتالي يمكن الاستنتاج أن الضربة تدعم خيار هذين الفاعلين بشكل رئيسي. أي أن الضربة الأمريكية تعزز المصالح الاسرائيلية والكتائب الإسلامية إلى حد كبير.

6-    من وجهة نظر المصلحة السورية، التناقض واضح بين أولويات الضربة والأولويات المفضلة وفق رؤيا سورية المستقبل، حيث تعزز الضربة إلى حد كبير احتمالية استمرار النزاع المسلح الذي يعد أسوأ السيناريوهات المحتملة بحسب الرؤيا المستقبلية أي أن الهدف الرئيسي للضربة يسير في عكس اتجاه مصلحة سورية المستقبلية والأمر نفسه ينطبق على ازدياد احتمالية الدولة الفاشلة وأخيراً وبدرجة أقل الحسم العسكري للمعارضة. بالمقابل تقلل الضربة احتمالية أكثر سيناريوهين مفضلين وهما المفاوضات بثقل داخلي وبثقل خارجي حيث تضعف الضربة احتمالات الحل السياسي بشكل ملموس.

7-    ستقود الضربة وفق السيناريوهات المحتملة إلى زيادة الخسائر البشرية والمادية واستمرار تدهور ظروف المعيشة وازدياد معدلات الفقر والهجرة والنزوح، وتشجع داعمي الخيارات المسلحة من مختلف الأطراف.

مع التحية والتقدير

المركز السوري لبحوث السياسات

Strike_and_Syrian_Crisis_Scenarios تحميل بحث المركز السوري للبحوث السياسية