Palestinian revolutionary: ‘Assad is no friend of the Palestinians’
Haitham is a revolutionary from the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus. He spoke about the role of Palestinians in the Syrian revolution at last month’s World Social Forum in Tunisia
“Our first role in the revolution was providing humanitarian and political support to our Syrian brothers and sisters.
Groups of Palestinians who supported the revolution formed local committees. They were primarily concerned with the everyday needs of tens of thousands of Syrians who came to Yarmouk looking for shelter.
Our camp is surrounded by poor Syrian neighbourhoods and we had no doubt we should help them when they came under attack from the regime. Many of the refugees from Homs and other cities also sought shelter with us.
Yarmouk welcomed as many people as found refuge in Turkey or Jordan.
Our first martyrs were killed attempting to smuggle medical supplies into cities under siege. Regime snipers do not distinguish between Palestinians and Syrians.
From the first day of the uprising, supporters of the regime denounced us as being part of a sectarian movement of Sunni Muslims against other minorities. This accusation does not fit reality.
Many of the medical volunteers in our underground medical clinics are from the Christian, Alawi and Druze minorities.
For many of us in the camps the first time we worked alongside these minorities was during the massive demonstrations against the regime. We were united in demanding the fall of the regime.
What sect you belonged to was never an issue, what mattered was whether you supported the regime or the revolution.
Our camp was run by a militia loyal to Assad. They used the Palestinian question to help keep order. But the camp rose up and we drove them out. There were huge celebrations when we were finally free of them.
We fought to keep the pro-regime militias out, and suffered many airstrikes and mortar attacks.
The idea that we were getting help from Qatar and Saudi Arabia is laughable. No one in our camp has undergone ‘training’—we rely on ourselves.
We don’t need to be told that these countries are not friends of the revolution. It is obvious that without mass support the armed struggle would not have lasted a month.
As a Palestinian, I do not feel an outsider in the Syrian revolution. For years we have been suffering alongside the Syrians. Our role is to help the revolution in every way we can.
Anyone who supports the Palestinian struggle, who supports our cause for freedom and dignity, must support the Syrian revolution.
We should not distinguish between the struggles of the Palestinians and those of the Syrians. We are all fighting for the overthrow of the dictatorships in the Arab world.”