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Saturday, December 3, 2022

Interview | Safouh AL BARAZI: Lifelong activist for Syrian freedom

Safouh Al Barazi celebrating Syrian Revolution anniversary in front of The White House, Washington DC, in 2014

If anyone knows about the long history of Syria’s revolution flag it is Safouh Al Barazi. When the revolution began in March of 2011, Al Barazi had already been actively campaigning from America where he has been living since fleeing his homeland in 1973 for Syrians to re-adopt the independence flag. At the time of his departure, Al Barazi’s city of Hama had been home to many dissidents who were determined to free Syria from the dictatorial grip of Hafez Assad. Consequently, Hama had become a major target of the regime. Al Barazi was forced to flee the country after learning that they were planning to detain him, a fate that many activists never returned from. 

Nine years later, in 1982, the Assad regime waged an assault on Hama that destroyed the city and killed an estimated 40,000 men, women, and children. Hama was eventually bulldozed and rebuilt but the Baath Party flag which has been the national flag of the Assad regime had become a symbol of its ruthless brutality, corruption, and oppression to the many Syrians who longed for freedom and dignity.

Al Barazi with a flag that bears his signature during a Syrian Opposition Conference held in Montreal, Canada in April 2006

As a man whose political activity continues to be led by his conscience, Al Barazi has always been a revolution unto himself and until today is still referred to by the Syrian community in the US as the “son of the people.”

SYRIAWISE spoke to Al Barazi from Istanbul where was visiting friends.

SYRIAWISE: It is good to speak to you again sir. Six years ago, we interviewed you for a different media platform and after rereading that article we are saddened by how nothing has really changed in Syria since then. But at the same time, so many other things have happened in other parts of the world. Do you ever get the feeling that Syria seems to be frozen in time and destined to stay a backward country as long as the Assad regime stays in power?

Assad the father destroyed Hama and Assad the son continued his legacy by destroying all of Syria

Safouh Al Barazi

Al Barazi: It is sad, painful, and very disturbing to witness the continuing flotation of the original criminal Assad regime in Syria. Assad the father destroyed Hama and Assad the son continued his legacy by destroying all of Syria.

Where is the international community? It appears that we are now living in a world without humanity. Where is humanity? Is it reasonable that 12 million displaced people and more than a million martyrs are in the hands of this criminal terrorist Bashar Assad? Unfortunately, refugee camps full of Syrians still exist in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.

Al Barazi protesting in front of the Syrian Embassy in Washington DC in April 2011

SYRIAWISE: What were your thoughts when you first learned that some other countries were beginning to normalize their relations with the Assad regime?

The Assad family is a gang that spreads terror and promotes terrorism in Syria

Safouh Al Barazi

Al Barazi: We live in a world with an international community devoid of humanity and conscience. The Assad family is a gang that spreads terror and promotes terrorism in Syria. They destroyed the country, killed the people, and brought in the invaders, and then the rulers of foreign and Arab countries will restore relations and normalize with the representative of terror and horror: Bashar Assad, the monster.

The most terrible and heinous catastrophe in our history happened to the Syrian people as they rode boats in the seas and drowned in large numbers and this happened because of the gang of terror and terrorism. And now they want to float Assad who is an example of crime and terrorism in the world.

An unjust world condones all this apparent injustice against an entire people who have been abandoned, and the reward from this world for Assad is allowing him to displace his people, forcing them to become refugees and asylum seekers in countries all over the globe. This is rude and it is a despicable world.

Al Barazi in front of the U.S. Capitol in 2015 celebrating the Syrian Revolution anniversary

SYRIAWISE: We know that you are an expert on the history of the “revolution” flag that was readopted by the freedom activists in Syria as well as by the Free Syrian Army 11 years ago. The regime insists that this much-loved flag was in reality a symbol of the French occupation and that their Baathist flag is the true independence flag of Syria. What would you say to that?

the flag of independence represents a national link between the struggles of the past and the sacrifices of the present as it dates back to 1930 when it was approved as part of the Constitution of the First Syrian Republic

Safouh Al Barazi

Al Barazi: Unfortunately, many of our younger generations do not know enough about the story of the flag of independence because of the false narrative of the regime in the history books. In reality, the flag of independence represents a national link between the struggles of the past and the sacrifices of the present as it dates back to 1930 when it was approved as part of the Constitution of the First Syrian Republic. It was officially raised in Damascus when the first president of Syria, Muhammad Ali Al-Abed was elected in 1932, during the presidential inaugural ceremonies.

Al Barazi protesting Putin’s crimes in Syria in front of the Russian Embassy, Washington DC in 2015

SYRIAWISE: Could you explain to our readers the significance of the components of the Syrian revolution flag?

Al Barazi: The flag we now use as our revolution flag was originally designed by the parliamentary committee led by nationalist leader Ibrahim Hananu which created the official draft of the Syrian Constitution in 1928. It stated that the “Syrian flag will be as follows: length double width, and is divided into three parallel and equal colors, the highest green, white than black, that the white section contains in a straight line three red five-pointed stars.” (Article IV, Part I, Constitution of the Syrian Republic) 

The three red stars represent the revolutions of 1920, 1925, and 1928. The green stripe represents the Syrian upbringing, the white stripe represents the hope for a peaceful future, and the black stripe represents the oppression experienced by Syrians which unfortunately continues to be the current reality in Syria under the Assad regime.

Safouh Al Barazi in front of The White House in May 2011

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