Out of the “yes” or “no” crowd there is still Syrian civil society

These days I can hardly open my Twitter timeline without finding almost 90% of the tweets dealing with Syria. Everybody has turned into an expert, whether on Syria or US` politics. Everybody seems to have an opinion whether it`s good or bad to bomb Syria, as the US has threatened to do.

I`m trying to stay silent in the middle of this “yes” or “no” crowd. I`m trying to stay away from commenting Syria these days, and this is not because I dont want to take a clear stance vis-a-vis the situation. Indeed, I took a clear stance more than two years ago: I was lucky enough to be in Syria when the uprising started, and feel blessed to have witnessed the beginning of a civil society-led movement asking for dignity and freedom in the most creative ways. I`m strongly against this regime which has, since day one, repressed into blood any request for change coming from the population. I also strongly oppose US led strike on Syria which is going to lead the situation into more chaos, death, violence, and civilian casualties, and eventually to a regional bloody conflict.

But I want to say loud that I`m outraged by this “yes” or “no” situation in which they have put us. I have to look either as a pro-regime or as a pro-imperialist. I am none of them. I`m sure many others feel like myself, being forced into the weird situation of having to state “yes” or “no” , “pro” or “against” something or someone.

There was a time when we tried so hard to show the world what the Syrian uprising was about. There was a time when we hosted conferences, events, public talks, exhibitions to show the world that Syria had a mature civil society that was resisting to violence in creative ways, but needed support. We went to meet up with journalists, human rights activists, academics, students, media experts, and politicians. Politicians and diplomats looked at us, us the “Syria experts” and listened to us, smiling. They took our advice, they discussed issues with us, they kept an open dialogue in order to get “updates” from civil society through us. They said it was important to have a “micro” approach, as they were too much stuck into the “macro” geopolitical picture -what Iran would do, how Turkey will respond, what Saudi Arabia thinks, and the like- , so they needed us to “stay in touch” with civil society, to understand what views were expressed on social networks, activists` groups etc etc.

We believed them and we kept organizing talks, and more talks, and more events. Myself, together with a group of Syrian and international curators, have worked hard to gather Syrian creativity and showcase it in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, London, Milan, Vienna, everywhere. We thought this was an important thing to do, not just for the general public to admire Syrian creativity as a work of art; but to understand that it was the result of civic awareness and a will to participate into a public debate in several creative ways.

Today, a dear friend on Twitter shared this video “Creative Syrian Revolution”. Its author, Bilal Zaiter, is making an appeal on Indiegogo to raise money to make a visual book which tracks the history of the Syrian uprising and its creativity: something in order not to forget where all it started.
Yet, this broke my heart today cause we do have forgotten where it all started. When we say yes or no to intervention, when we say I am pro Assad or pro Obama, when they force us into choosing whether being a dictator-supporter or an imperialist power-supporter, we do have forgotten where it all started. We have forgotten that the most important thing is not to save Assad`s chair in name of a supposed “secularism” which he would allegedly support; nor to back Obama`s pledge to “defend humanity” just because a red-line was crossed from the US` point of view, whereas many others red lines had been crossed by this regime since long time ago. The most important thing is indeed the Syrian people, the lives of those civilians who have bravely expressed their views, and we have forgotten about them.Today we cry out our outrage for an illegitimate war which is likely  to happen: and I do it, too. But we should cry out our outrage for we have failed, we have let the Syrian people down. We have admired their works of art and resistance and civil disobedience while returning to our homes reassured, in a way, that this form of resistance would not stop. But we have done nothing to support it. We havent found any creative way to keep this creativity alive, and now this creativity has been almost killed by the “yes’ or “no” crowd.I dont want to look hopeless, although I am a bit..cause all our words and actions went in vain if they havent helped our media, politicians and public opinion to think differently about Syria. But, to those who still believe in this civil society and who are still convinced that Syria is not a “yes” or “no” situation, please do something….do something these days, urgently, to stop this war. Yes. We don`t need yet another US intervention in the region, especially if done this way. But do not only act to stop war; do act to produce a real peace which wont be the case if this regime stays and goes on with killing its own people. Mobilize your circles, make petitions to the UN, engage your politicians, do whatever you can do..but do something and remind the world that those Syrians who started the uprising as a civil society movement were imprisoned by Assad (I have many friends still held in regime`s jails..and these are not the “salafi” type, I can assure) or killed or forced into exile, and those who stayed were marginalized by the “jihadi” groups paid by foreign powers (with the US doing nothing to avoid this). Do something, whatever you can, to push our “leaders” to find a  real solution for peace, because Syria concerns all of us. If Syrian civil society dies, we also die.

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