Documenting Destruction campaign
For many months into the Syrian uprising, the city of Raqqa was accused of not participating in the revolution. However, that didn’t spare it the regime’s brutality, and it has witnessed near daily bombing since the beginning of the Battle of Raqqa. Since the declaration of its liberation it has become a neutral area, containing more than a million displaced civilian.
The fact that many residential buildings have been damaged or completely demolished by the regime´s indiscriminate bombing drove the members of the Our Rights movement to launch a campaign to document the amount of destruction in the city.
The idea was born soon after the liberation of Raqqa in March 2013, where a slightly more stable situation gave civil activists some room to mobilize, without the risk of being arrested by regime forces or being injured amid military clashes.
Five activists, including video photographers and a spokesperson, organized visits to damaged houses and interviewed their owners, and took pictures of the destruction to estimate its size. The committee also included an architect and a lawyer, working on archiving the information provided to them, both electronically and on paper.
“It wasn’t easy,” one of the activists said to Syria Untold. “The air raids had damaged many buildings, and most of the residents had fled, so we were not able to communicate with them to document their testimonies, and to reassure them about the possibility of compensating their loss legally, so that they did not have to resort to occupying an abandoned house, arbitrarily and illegally.”
When asked about their coordination with other groups, including the military opposition, activists explained that they try to avoid any kind of clash with them. “When we started working on the project, no coordination was formally made with the city´s committee, or armed battalions, but our work wasn’t secretive, because the campaign’s purpose wasn’t to stand in their way, but rather to help people”.
The campaign is ongoing, and activists continue to document as much of the destruction as possible. They are open to anyone who wants to help, but refuse any funding that comes with conditions.