Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

What 10 US and UK Syria activists have to say about the revolution

As we enter into the 13th year of the Syrian Revolution, we asked a diverse group of people whom we have known to be long-time Syrian activists from the US and the UK to reflect on how they became involved in supporting the Syrian struggle for freedom and dignity and why it continues to be a priority for them in spite of the apathy of many of their American and British friends at home.

Marc Nelson: “I remember, sitting at my desk, waiting for my young art students to stream into the room, when I saw it. A horrific photograph, shared on social media of a screaming man, desperately clinging to a wounded child, her blood-stained blanket clutched tightly in her tiny fist. This wasn’t a picture from WW2 or Vietnam, this was happening NOW in Syria. Unlike the Holocaust whose horrors were revealed to the wider world after the camps were liberated, photos and videos of the civilians being murdered by their government in Syria were being shared in real-time, for everyone to see. For me, the Syrian Revolution is not a distant conflict where strangers die in cities I can’t pronounce. Syrians are my brothers and sisters. In 2011 they took to the streets to demand freedom from fear and oppression, rights everyone should be guaranteed. They brought flowers and bottles of water to Assad’s troops, and they were murdered in cold blood. How can I turn away? Silence is complicity. Silence is a crime.”

Gail Vignola: “I’ve felt compelled to act since 2012 when I met my first displaced Syrian student at a small university in the cornfields of Indiana. As an activist and non-Syrian ally, I’m committed to big-picture Syria projects because my father – a political exile himself – modeled the obligation to fight for justice through his work at the Nuremberg trials. As a professor, small projects like guiding two forcibly displaced Syrian students through their acceptance into an Ivy League university – a chance to realize their dreams in a safe place – is nourishment for my heart. I’m intolerant of injustice, unforgiving of impunity, inspired by the courage of Syrians I know, and bound by morality to not stop until there is freedom for Syria and justice for her people.”

Dylan Connor: “I wish the world had taken substantive action on the side of the Syrian protest movement when they were being gunned down in 2011… the world would be a different place now. We probably would not have the Russian war in Ukraine. I wish we had given proper support to the FSA early on. Now, 12 years on, my concern is for the detainees. My concern is for the displaced that do not have access to money or education. My concern is that the world is moving towards normalization with Assad. We must shine a light on these issues. I always remember the martyrs when I sing for Syria. They will never be forgotten as long as we sing for them.”

Bronwen Griffiths: “I got involved with the Syrian revolution after I visited Libya in February 2011. I was airlifted out of Libya after the uprising against Gaddafi took place. This event made me take an interest in the Arab Spring and after that, I began to learn more and more about Syria and I made friends via social media. It kind of snowballed from there. “

Sarah Kittle: “Before my sister became involved in Syrian relief efforts, I really didn’t know much about Syria. Like most Americans, I thought the Middle East was rich with oil money. I didn’t know about the plight of Syrians being targeted by their own government or how those that remained were trying to eke out a living in one of the most inhospitable environments on the planet.”

Cody Langford: “It would be hard to put how I got started with Syria and my perspective of the current situation into just a few words. Unfortunately, I do not believe Syrians will be seeing any justice in the near future for Assad’s crimes but the bottom line is; 12 Years or 21 Years. Syria will eventually be free from the Assad family.”

Therese Rickman Bull: “I had been following the Egyptian revolution via “We are all Khaled Said.” One day in 2011 there was a flash notice about Hamza Al Khateeb and his awful death. I immediately checked Syrian sites and my attachment to the Syrian Revolution commenced immediately.”

Jess Malone: “The Syrian people are the bravest people on earth. The fight for democracy is a universal revolution. It belongs to us all in a century where dictators should be in history books, not in power!”

Ruthanne Sikora: “I was introduced to the Syrian Revolution during its first few weeks by a 16-year-old boy I met online who lived in Baba Amr in Homs. Our conversations about music eventually changed into frantic messages as the Assad regime began a heavy assault on his neighborhood. In the beginning, I found it hard to believe that the atrocities being committed by the Syrian government were really happening in this age of rapidly evolving technology when not much goes on in the world without others knowing about it in a relatively short amount of time. But the photos and videos that we were receiving from inside Syria were not yet being censored by YouTube or Facebook and were undeniably horrific and downright heartbreaking. At the time I thought for sure that the international community would somehow intervene and come to the aid of those who were unjustly being targeted in Syria. It still breaks my heart to realize how wrong I was but I made a decision right from the beginning that I was in this for the long haul and that I would not abandon the Syrian struggle for freedom and dignity until its goals were accomplished. Back in those early years, I experienced many emotional meltdowns every time a setback occurred, but never once have I ever considered giving up. If the Syrian people who have suffered and sacrificed so much can keep going, then so can I. We are family.”

Cory Strachan: “The regime is feeble; the people’s hearts and minds are strong; and the Revolution will win.”

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