Syria: Songs of Defiance

Great (and not too long) first-person account from an Al Jazeera journalist that secretly embedded themselves with rebels in Syria.

With Al Jazeera cameras banned inside Syria, it was too difficult and dangerous to openly use a video camera, but he was able to use his mobile phone. With its tiny camera, filming secretly on street corners, through car windows and behind closed doors, he was able to gather images that reveal ordinary people showing extraordinary courage. 

He says: “I was walking through Homs and sniper fire started and I was the only one in the crowd that actually flinched. And a father with his kids was standing by the door and they were sort of laughing at me and pointing, saying ‘why don’t you fall on the floor while you are at it?’ It’s amazing how Syrians, who never heard gunfire because they lived in a very peaceful country, have gotten used so quickly to living in a state of war, how to respond to it. They’ve very quickly become a mobilised revolutionary society, whereas before they had no experience of doing this.

"Despite all this violence and attacks every night there are demonstrations. People come out in defiance. It has become something that they have to do … like they have freedom for just that moment of time. And people will say that they feel depressed if they don’t go out. There’s a phenomenon: late at night, people will yell ‘Allahu Akbar’. Mostly it has become a statement of defiance: ‘We’re still here.’

"And then you’ll hear the gunfire in response … as if to remind them that ‘we’re still here, too’."

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THE SHELLING CONTINUES ACROSS SYRIA TODAY: HOMS AND HAMA  ARE BEING SHELLED MERCILESSLY BY ASSAD’S FORCES. Mar 21, 2012 - As the world “accepts” Kofi’ Annan’s “peace proposal” - Assad continues to mercilessly shell innocent men, women and children as the world discusses “politics”

A fire in Khalidieyh, Homs. A shell lands in Bab Sibaa, Homs.

The shelling of Hama in the city and its historic citadel.

Tanks roll in to Hama shooting.

Thanks @ahmed

Syria may be dropping out of the news cycle, but that’s not because anything is really changing on the ground.

The government is still massacring its citizens.

(Source: yallair7al, via mohandasgandhi)

TW: violence, blood

This is what the Syrian government snipers are doing across the country. Video summary:

A young boy lies in the dirt, shot by apparent sniper fire.

Another boy attempts to lift him onto the curb and pull him to safety.

Before he can manage it another shot rings out - there is a puff of smoke, a moment of silence as the cameraman retreats behind a wall, and then the boy falls back and disappears.

The first injured boy is left alone on the ground to make it to safety. He attempts to stand but his legs buckle, and as he slowly drags himself across the floor he turns to reveal a bloody gunshot wound in the small of his back.

This harrowing scene was captured in video recorded in the Syrian city of Homs on Monday. Shot in the Hooleh area of the city, where violence continues despite widespread international condemnation, the video can be watched below, but caution is advised.

Human Rights Watch are also reporting that hundreds of landmines have been laid along the borders with Lebanon and Turkey, where many of the civilians are fleeing - which will make the region dangerous for years even if the whole government steps down tomorrow.

More info here



“As I’m talking to you now, they’re dying.” Injured Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy gives Sky News an interview from his hospital bed. This is a really important interview. His descriptions of what’s happening in Homs are painful and terrible. He spoke of the scheduled regularity of the shelling, beginning with horrible predictability at 6:00 every morning.

I’ve worked in many war zones. I’ve never seen, or been, in shelling like this. It is a systematic … I’m an ex-artillery gunner so I can kind of follow the patterns… they’re systematically moving through neighborhoods with munitions that are used for battlefields. This is used in a couple of square kilometers. 

He described the state of fear in Homs, calling it “beyond shell shock,” and the actions of Assad’s forces “absolutely indiscriminate,” with the intensity of the bombardments increasing daily. Conroy’s detailing of the inhumane conditions and the position of the Syrian citizens and the Free Syrian Army is important, because we don’t have as many journalists who have been able to tell us what it was like to be there as we have had elsewhere. He tells us that “The time for talking is actually over. Now, the massacre and the killing is at full tilt.” 

I actually want to quote his entire interview about the people who are living without hope, food, or power and his conviction that we will look back on this massacre with incredible shame if we stand by and do nothing. In lieu of that, you must must must watch every bit of this interview.

What is wrong with people? Did we learn @#$%ing nothing from Rwanda etc? Is the international community just gonna stand by and let another massacre happen again?!

what can we do though? like, as a serious question, as an individual from a foreign nation.

I think that saying “forget the geopolitics” could be quite a dangerous thing to do, as it’s exactly that source of urgency that colonialists have used to impose long-running brutal systems of oppression in other parts of the world

obviously it’d be great if, say, the UN could intervene in literally a peace-keeping way to protect civilians and stop the fighting - but what if the Syrian army fights back against them? what if the Free Syrian Army does? how do we account for the imperialistic drives of our home countries if we’re pushing for intervention?

this is a genuine question that I want help with. I’m fine with the long-term “well the world needs to be structured like this…” but what do we practically do in the short term for the people of Syria?

(via thearabspringrevolutions)

Revolutionary Coordination Committees say more than 230 confirmed dead & 700 injured in Homs in Syria Tonight. Numbers increase every minute

today sucks



Basil Al-Sayed, Who Chronicled The Syrian Uprising, Is Dead

This was the last thing Basil al-Sayed, a citizen journalist in Syria, filmed before he was shot in the head by security forces.

According to activist Rami Jarrah, yesterday, al-Sayed succumbed to his injuries at a hospital in the restive city of Homs. He was 24.

“We have thousands of citizen journalists,” Jarrah told NPR’s Deb Amos. “But Basil was one of those who stood out.”

Jarrah said al-Sayed filmed security forces opening fire directly at protesters, and that put him at serious risk.

“He was documenting stuff that no one could actually get hold of,” Jarrah said. 

Foreign journalists have been mostly banned from entering Syria since a popular uprising against the rule of President Bashar Assad began in the country 10 months ago. In many cases, the videos uploaded to YouTube by citizen journalists have been the only way for the outside world to see the clashes that have cost more than 5,000 people their lives in Syria.

Al-Sayed documented the uprising using a small Samsung camcorder that has a red body. He uploaded hundreds of hours of footage to YouTube. He has a brother and sister, and he was the youngest in his family. He worked at an aluminum plant in Homs.

In Bab Amr, the neighborhood that has come under a heavy attack by the security forces over the past few months, the role of al-Sayed was instrumental in relaying information and getting the word out, Jarrah added.

awful news :( the regime is killing more and more each day, and not all of them have the celebrity this dude did

(via occupyonline)