Samar Yazbek: “Syrians refuse to remain slaves to the Assad regime”
The syrian author and jornalist describes how whe sees the situation in Syria.
Samar Yazbek : the telegraph
How can I talk about freedom of expression when my fingers have stiffened in a river of blood? How can I discuss the early days of the revolution, when I could travel and write about what was happening and take part in peaceful demonstrations for change and democracy? That is like a lost paradise now, the idea of freedom of opinion is so far removed from our reality.
I remember the fresh feelings of freedom when the revolution started. Those rays of happiness when I could write without fear, even if I was pursued by the security forces and had to live in hiding. Those days have gone, only to be replaced by a dark grief that has prevented me from writing for months. I have spent that time working on the ground with Syrians in the north.
I can no longer talk about freedom of expression, or even allow myself to think about anything other than the mangled corpses of children being pulled out by their mothers’ hands from under the rubble of homes destroyed by Assad’s bombs.
I saw it with my own eyes and I lost all understanding of logic, justice and freedom. All at once, these ideals slipped from my mind to become a kind of luxury in the tragic situation of the Syrian people.
It was the precondition of freedom that led us in Syria to start our democratic civil revolution before the world colluded to turn it into a long-term war. I have travelled the globe to tell the truth about this great revolution, and I have been back to Syria to be with the people who are paying the heavy price for freedom on their patch of Earth.
I have seen real freedom in the resistance and bravery of the people. The early slogan of the revolution ‘Death, and not humiliation’ is still relevant. Syrians refuse to remain slaves to the Assad regime, and they are prepared to pay, whatever it takes. Their dreams are those of the Spartans. Although the times and methods have changed, the essence is the same: death for the sake of freedom.
But when death follows from freedom, blood stems the flow of words. I could not write about the planes bombing the children. I stayed with the people and my fingers stiffened each time. I stopped writing for months. Now I am slowly returning to writing.
My priorities were and remain different: I no longer think of freedom as solely a concept to write about. For me, freedom is being with the people and sharing life, death and pain. This is the freedom of the writer during revolutions: to be a part of the civil resistance movement, to contribute to the process of change. From ensuring shelter for families fleeing shelled homes, and resisting extremism through the peace movement, to creating small projects to ensure women’s independence and safety, and opening schools for displaced children: this is how I understand freedom now. This is how I practice my right to freedom of expression — by helping ordinary people create their freedom.
These words appear sad before the gathering forces of evil and the absence of any moral vision in the international game over Syria, the competition over each state’s ability to spread its influence, depriving the revolution of its democratic aims and turning it into a sectarian war. The world is standing and watching. The West and America have an interest: not just an “interest” but collusion with a military and economic aim.
While humane ideas are being torn apart, any talk about freedom of expression has become meaningless. I see only tears and can think only of the lacerated bodies of children. I can work only to prevent our revolution being divested of its democratic aims.
Samar Yazbek will be speaking at the Telegraph Ways With Words Festival at Dartington Hall on Saturday July 6
date : 20/06/2013