Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Kalashnikov

Syrian women: Their suffering and endurance

 
This is a re-p0st of one of the Editors’ Picks for 2013.

Asmaa 

 

I want to start by talking about Asmaa (pictured above). I met her in Jordan, five days after she had been released from a regime prison.

She is the fiancée of Abdul Razak Tlass, who was the first officer to defect from the Syrian army when the revolution began. She was captured transporting a Kalashnikov in her bag after a tip-off.

She told me about how she was interrogated, made to stand up without break for hours on end and deprived of sleep, but nothing they did could get her to give the names of who she had been working with.

When you see her eyes you understand immediately how much she suffered. I know she wasn’t telling me the full story of what happened to her.

Considering the fact that the use of sexual violence by the regime is not unknown, I have the suspicion that something like this happened to her. When you look in her eyes as she talks about her experience,e it is clear that terrible things were done to her. A part of her soul died in that prison.

But something very interesting came out of my talking to her.  She was in a cell with 9 other Syrian women, all different religions, Sunni, Shia, Alawite, Druze and Christian. They all came to love each other during their time in captivity and it is one of the reasons why she believes that the people of Syria can be united in the future and is something she feels very strongly about.

So many in the West think that the people in Syria are hopelessly divided and all want to kill each other along religious lines. Women like Asmaa, who despite all they have suffered, demonstrate that this is not the case.

She was only released from prison after 13 months because the FSA swapped prisoners in order to get her out.  Now she is in the relative safety of Jordan and working to help her fellow Syrians as best she can.

One of the things I noticed about Syrian women in general is how strong and resilient they are.

In the refugee camps, despite losing so much, they continue their lives in the best way they can, they cook and look after their families.

Their standard of living is very much reduced, but they continue. Compare this with many of the men I saw who were in the refugee camps, who have lost their work, there is nothing for them to do, so they just sit around in groups with other men, drinking tea and smoking.

Psychologically I would say that the women handle the situation better. They have something to do, the men on the other hand do not, and as a  result end up looking very lost and feeling quite useless.

On the surface, Syria is very much a male dominated society but under the surface the women have a lot of influence.

All Syrian men will tell you how strong the women are, never mess with a Syrian women, they half jokingly tell me. To be honest I don’t know how they keep going, the women, men and children but then again it isn’t as if they have much choice.

They have become the victims of callous geo-political games with only power and influence as their objective. The governments of the world have proven that they are not fit for purpose. Why?

Because they see the human suffering they cause as no more than collateral damage.

Syria: Facing the revolution

Here is a video slideshow of some of my work in Syria which hasn’t been published before along with Syrian music and also a commentary I made.

Is the United Nation Indispensable? (October 29, 2009)

 

We have UN “peace keeping forces” on our border with Israel since the July 2006 war that lasted 33 days; this savage pre-emptive war ended with a major debacle of the Israeli troops and a definite political defeat of Israel’s expansionist strategies and pre-emptive war policies. This peace keeping force is not really meant to keep peace and could not do this job if a resumption of war sets in.  The major benefit of UN peace keeping forces is to interact with citizens and aid in small social and economic undertakings within the needed communities and providing seasonal jobs.  The fact that citizens are exposed to different nationalities and daily interactions is more important than any kinds of power exhibition and posturing.  One drawback is that many kids tend to like playing soldiers wearing blue beret or blue helmets; in a way start dreaming of emulating the UN military forces.

Many regions have witnessed exposures to UN peace keeping contingents with communication advantages that dwarf the petty enmities based on ethnic or religious conflicts that are the wreckages of lasting historic ignorance and confinements.  Just providing multinational troops for separating armies is good enough a job to preserving and consolidating the UN institutions. 

Currently, the UN departments are focusing on environmental changes (the Copenhagen forum is awaited with great expectation this December), eliminating arms of mass destructions, reducing the nuclear arsenals, slowing down the proliferation of sub-munitions, biological and chemical arms, and prohibiting the usage of land mines, cluster shells, phosphoric bombs. 

After the fiasco of the pre-emptive war in Iraq and the hopeless case of resolving the Afghan conflict by shear military intervention it is becoming obvious that the UN will erect a solid wall against such unilateral pre-emptive endeavors.  Major wars are practically at an end.  The main difficulty is to diplomatically pre-empt conflicts that may result in low level wars or civil wars that are more difficult to resolve when they starts than open wars; this is where the UN can dynamically extend helping hands as an honest third party broker to encouraging the main parties to meeting directly.

A not largely publicized endeavor is the efforts to re-integrate kid-soldiers into civilian societies; many families and communities refuse to accept their kid-soldiers within their mist for fear or disrupting the traditional way of life. Many African States have recruited over 300,000 kids to play soldiers during the many civil wars and those kids would not relinquish the man status they acquired during these horrible wars and the easy ways to rob and stead just by showing off with a Kalashnikov.

The UN divulged that military expenses have reached 1.5 trillion dollars this year; an amount that would have made every inhabitant of planet earth richer by 200 dollars.  The US alone accounts for 48% of that total in military budget.  Most armies have reduced the number of their standing armies in order to invest the savings on more performing weapons in load power, reduced size, and accuracy to kill and maim.  The US and Russia are negotiating the reduction on the number of war heads and ballistic missiles for the purpose of investing the savings on more performing and newer generations of war heads and missiles.  The US and Russia needed the UN as a world forum to misinform the world community on their intentions for greater peace and stability.

Civilian group actions are taking the lead over State governments in disseminating awareness on global problems and exercising beneficial pressures on the 199 State governments represented in the UN.  Former hegemonies of superpowers are making rooms to emerging economic and financial powers.  The group of G20 is meeting frequently and neighboring States are conglomerating into trade zones in South America and South-East Asia.

Slow changes in the re-organization of the UN and power distribution are taking place.  Rotations of non-veto power States (I think around 9 in addition to the 5 veto members) are asked to represent the UN body in executive sessions; for example Lebanon was voted in for two years after 53 years of absence.  This sharing in responsibilities is a great exposure for non-veto States to learn and get training on the UN administrative labyrinths.

The rights of the former five “superpowers” of US, Russia, China, France, and Britain to veto on major decrees related to wars or pre-emptive wars did not function well: superpowers did what they wanted to do anyway regardless of the votes in the General Assembly. Worse, the superpowers vetoed on petty matters that would have discouraged crimes against humanity and blatant apartheid policies.  The US caste the most number of vetoes in the history of the UN just to take Israel off the hook on the thousands of Israel’s behaviors and activities that went counter to the UN charter of safeguarding human dignities and rights. 

Veto rights to absolving crimes against humanity are not to be acceptable any more.  After the world financial crash, the successive failures of direct wars to solving problems, and the exorbitant costs to waging wars and paying for wars’ aftermath in caring for refugees, displaced people, and reconstruction a new political era is evolving; the superpowers are now willing to permit the UN playing greater roles in resolving world problems.

Testimonials of a civil war: Communist party member 

The issue of daily Al Balad, April 26, 2005

Samir Al Ocda was barely 12 years old when the civil war started.  His father was a dedicated Communist party member and hided a Kalashnikov in his house located in Ras Nabaa.

Samir’s father was strict in never allowing any one in the family to touch the Kalashnikov, or missing a school day for demonstrating, or to hanging out in centers where political meetings were taking place.

Once, as Samir was 10 years old, his father and a few of his comrades parked the jeep in the neighborhood.  His father lifted the kid Samir and placed him behind the Doshka machine gun mounted on the jeep. That was the first great impression for power and glory.

Samir political awareness began in 1980 when he was in middle school:  He read the daily newspaper “Al Watan” (the nation) distributed at the school door.  He badly desired to wear the green vest called “field” that was donned by the communist fighters.

When the bombing intensified, he stood at the school door and harangued the students not to enter and to join the demonstrations.  The school  principal remonstrated them and they replied by throwing rocks at him.

In Ras Nabaa stood a house called “Nadi Ruwad” (the patrons club) which hosted Russian delegates and various sports activities. In this house, Samir got indoctrinated and started reading ideological books and participating in discussions.

In 1981, Samir was already 15 years old and joined a training camp for the Communist in Kfar Matta under the direction of a comrade called “Stalin”. He had told his family that he was going out on a scout camp.

The taller the comrade the closer to the front row was the regulation and thus, short Samir was always standing in the back wearing oversized Cuban military garments.

Abu Anis, the war code name for the head of the Communist Party George Hawi, sent immediately these fresh graduating recruits to manning the barricades in St. Theresa, in the Dahia neighborhood in order to face-off the offensives of the “Amal” militias also called the disinherited Shiaas.

Samir was restless from then on and barely visited his family.

In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon and entered Beirut.

Samir helped his comrades recover the military vehicles and hardware buried in the “Sport City” compound and distributed the vehicles to various corners in West Beirut, and mainly around the “Cola” neighborhood.

By dawn, the inhabitants got the fright seeing that amount of military vehicles and chars and started vacating to more peaceful areas in coincidence with the admonishments of the Israeli flyers for the people to empty the surroundings and so Samir’s folks did too.

Samir collected 250 house keys that the tenants left with him for safe keep.

While guarding barricades, Samir used to finger his guitar and a photo was published of him with the legend stating “The break time of a fighter at “Mat-haf” (National Museum area)”, followed by the slogans “Down with guns; Long life to guitars!”

His last battle was at “Mathaf” where he faced the Israeli soldiers and managed to earn the scare of his life before successfully retreating.

Samir still believes that he fought for a just cause, but the circumstances and new facts are leaving him to wonder whether this civil war was worth the damage and death.

Since the Taef agreement in 1990, which stopped the war, and the parliament proclaiming that “All has been forgiven and all involved have been pardoned”, Samir has experienced deep depression periods and witnessed a half-peace and lack of opportunities to earn a living.

An eye witness confessed to seeing a bunch of kids playing soccer on a sandy field to discover that the ball was indeed a human skull.

Rami, now 33 years old, used to gather insects in bundles and burn them just to hear the crackling sounds in the fire.


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adonis49

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