This past week in August has been a busy one for Syrians around the world. Friday, August 25, 2023, saw many people inside Syria who have until recently tolerated, if not outright supported, Bashar Assad, filling the streets of various cities across the country and boldly giving voice to their complaints about the current state of affairs in their devastated homeland.
The fact that many minorities and even members of his own sect are now speaking out against him poses quite a dilemma for Assad who has consistently defended his brutal attacks on his own people since the spring of 2011 by claiming to be protecting these same minorities from the “terrorist” majority.
“I will not forget that man, who writhes like a fish out of water, with a mouth full of foam and eyes with pinpoint pupils, and dozens of dead children, as if they were sleeping with yellowish faces and without blood.”Shafeek Al Khoulie commenting on the Ghouta chemical attack
Coming at the end of a week that began with the 10th anniversary of the Assad regime’s chemical weapons attack on Ghouta on August 21, 2013, Friday’s demonstrations appear to be a flicker of light at the end of a long tunnel for many Syrian freedom activists who are still trying to recover from the trauma of seeing so many women and children, as well as family members and friends, gassed in their sleep by their own government.
Shafeek Al Khoulie, an activist currently residing as an IDP in Idlib with his family, was living in eastern Ghouta ten years ago and told Syriawise, “I will never forget the agony of this day. A day like a mini-doomsday. I will not forget that man, who writhes like a fish out of water, with a mouth full of foam and eyes with pinpoint pupils, and dozens of dead children, as if they were sleeping with yellowish faces and without blood.”
“It’s disheartening that after ten years the war criminal Assad still hasn’t been held accountable despite the report that came out from OPCW and the UN confirming what we already know”Amenah Masri
In the liberated area of northern Syria, Med Global staff joined with the healthcare staff of Al-Rahma Hospital in the city of Darkush, to demonstrate the resilience of the people and stand in remembrance of the victims of the devastating attack that shook the world. In spite of the fact that the use of chemical weapons is unequivocally prohibited by international law, Syrian civilians have been subjected to more than 200 additional chemical attacks in the last 10 years.
Amenah Masri, a Syrian activist currently living in Massachusetts, attended a rally in Connecticut and told Syriawise, “It’s disheartening that after ten years the war criminal Assad still hasn’t been held accountable despite the report that came out from OPCW and the UN confirming what we already know; Assad used chemical weapons against innocent people many times. It’s a shame the world still calls him “President”. The Syrian people deserve justice, and we must ensure that those responsible for these heinous acts are held accountable. We will never forget!”
Dr Mohamad Katoub, a dentist from Douma and advocacy expert whose experience focuses on humanitarian policies and the protection of aid workers in Syria and neighboring countries. addressed the UN Security Council prior to the 10th anniversary of the brutal attack calling for an end to impunity for the usage of chemical weapons, the protection of aid workers, and emphasizing the need for public health in conflict areas.
In a statement published by The White House on the day of the anniversary, National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson wrote: “The Assad regime, backed by Russia, is hoping the world will forget the atrocities that have occurred in Syria. We will not. Syria and Russia must comply with their international obligations and stop obstructing the work of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The global community will continue to seek justice for the victims and survivors of atrocities in Syria and to promote accountability for those responsible.”
“Every rebellious city in Syria today is my capital. Sweida is my city today, Al-Qrayya is my homeland, and tomorrow is my freedom”Saad Fansa
In spite of all of the investigations that have been conducted, resolutions that have been passed, statements issued, righteous indignation, and condemnation of the regime that has been voiced by a multitude of people, organizations, and governments from around the world, nothing much has changed in regards to the government in Syria in the years since Bashar Assad came to power. It has become obvious to most that pressure from outside sources will not succeed in toppling Assad which is why the reignition of the revolution in recent days is cause for celebration among those who have been growing weary of the world’s apathy for their cause.
Saad Fansa, Syrian historian, researcher, and former museum curator in Syria, who is currently living in Virginia, shared his thoughts about the recent demonstrations with Syriawise saying, “Every rebellious city in Syria today is my capital. Sweida is my city today, Al-Qrayya is my homeland, and tomorrow is my freedom. Every rebel within them is my brother. The dignified figures and wise elders of their community are my inspiration. From them, I draw my dignity, my faith, and my beliefs. I don’t differentiate between my Christian and my Islamic identity.”
“The renewal of the Syrian uprising against the brutal Assad regime is an echo of the Syrian revolution sacrifices”Dr. Yahya Alaridi
Dr. Yahya Alaridi, one of the highest-ranking members of the Assad regime to defect after the revolution began, told Syriawise, “The renewal of the Syrian uprising against the brutal Assad regime is an echo of the Syrian revolution sacrifices from Daraa, Deir Ezzor to Zabadani, Damascus, Homs, Albayda, Banyas and Idlib over the last twelve years. To every human being who wouldn’t accept a belonging other than belonging just to humanity, I urge you to extend a hand and support freedom fighters and those Syrian detainees in Bashar Assad’s jails. Without the Assad gang, Syria will come back to life. Freedom for Syria and mercy for its martyrs.”
Gail Vignola is a university professor who founded Scholars for Syria after hearing the tragic stories of some of her Syrian students who came to the US as refugees. When Syriawise asked her to share her thoughts about the recent protests in Syria she referred to a quote from one of her students from Daraa whose name is also Bashar. Bashar was 13 years old when the protests began in his city and his father has been detained in the regime’s notorious Sednaya Prison since 2013. On Friday he told her “These videos brought tears to my eyes…I cried when I saw Syrians in the streets today and said there is hope.”
“To see a resurgence of protests this week makes me think that just maybe, this courageous call to action will be enough to prove that radical hope is not hopeless, enough to bring down the tyrant, enough to guarantee the success of this young man’s revolution, enough to turn his tears of hope to tears of joy”Gail Vignola
Vignola told Syriawise, “Syria’s revolution has left an indelible mark on the geopolitical landscape. From those still inside Syria to expats constantly expecting bad news from home, living with existential nihilism has become normal. To see a resurgence of protests this week makes me think that just maybe, this courageous call to action will be enough to prove that radical hope is not hopeless, enough to bring down the tyrant, enough to guarantee the success of this young man’s revolution, enough to turn his tears of hope to tears of joy.”
To borrow a quote from Geoffrey Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales, “For better than never is late; never to succeed would be too long a period.”