The heady days of revolution in Syria give way to a grim reality

Amal Hanano writes: One night in mid-March, activist Rami Jarrah and I – in our typical Damascus versus Aleppo rivalry – were bickering. Our dispute was about the date of the “real” anniversary of the revolution. But as we argued, and later as we discussed the sad events of the day in Syria, there was a lightness, a slight joyfulness that we did not discuss. Yet it lingered and I knew why. We couldn’t believe we had really made it – the revolution had survived an entire year.

The feeling of elation was nothing compared to what we had felt the day the students of Aleppo University took over the campus, or the evening the brave people of Homs reclaimed Clock Square. Still, it was a revolution high.

Moments like those have become scarce, dissolving into memories. Those days when hope was enough – when a witty sign from Kafranbul could lift millions out of despair; when the spirit of the Syrian people seemed unbreakable – are over.

Now the lows exceed the highs. Now we talk about what has been lost more often than what will be gained. And the losses have been heavy: some of the people we once spoke to daily are no longer in Syria; some have abandoned the revolution; many have died. Peaceful protests have dwindled as the bombs drop onto our cities and villages. Civilians are caught in the crossfire; thousands have become refugees – outsiders just like us.

And everyone is depressed.

We are now silent witnesses, watching as our country is reduced to a headline and the opening act for the United Nations General Assembly. Syria cues endless analysis from pundits and continuous hand-wringing by world leaders. The UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi says without shame: “There is no prospect for today or tomorrow to move forward.” And our dead are a steadily growing but meaningless number.

As we crashed from euphoric highs, cracks in the revolution have appeared. Power struggles on the front lines and between the political groups exposed us as a fractured opposition. Bickering on social media sites turned activists against each other as loyalties were questioned. In contrast, the regime was steadfast, unflinching in its kill, burn and bomb strategy. Somewhere along revolution road our narratives had crossed and we wondered, was this the beginning of the end? Was the revolution dying? Or worse, the question I asked people: was the revolution dead?

On September 16, yet another massacre was reported from the village of Kafr Awayd in Idleb province. I thought I had become immune to the images of slaughtered children. I thought we had learnt lessons of detachment from Houla and Qubeir. But this time there was a little girl in a blue dress and white tights, a girl we could only imagine as pretty because she was missing her head. While I watched a man carry her like a rag doll in front of the camera, I realised we had not seen the worst yet. [Continue reading…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email