Al Jazeera reports: Ammar Kassir became a refugee to avoid killing fellow Syrians.
In 2012, as pro-democracy marches on the streets of Damascus were increasing, Kassir was a part of a police unit working under the direct control of President Bashar al-Assad. One afternoon, he was ordered to open fire on protesters marching for democracy.
“Assad told us we must kill these people who are making demonstrations. The protesters were shouting ‘Freedom! Freedom!’, and he said we must kill these people. I did not want to do that,” Kassir told Al Jazeera.
The safe choice would have been to follow the orders he was given. The policeman, who was 20-years old at the time, chose to resist, even though he knew refusing orders meant he would have to escape for his own safety.
Kassir became a refugee, one of three million Syrians who have fled their country in the past three years.
He left Damascus, heading north to his family’s home in Idlib. From there, he made his way alone to Turkey, crossing the border by foot.
Since the Syrian uprising began, 95 percent of the Syrians who fled their native country remained in the region, mainly in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.
Kassir had other plans.
He wanted to get to Europe, to reach a safer country that would give him a chance to restart his life.
Legal pathways to Europe for Syrian refugees are rare and Kassir – like many other Syrians who sought refuge in Europe – was forced onto dangerous and expensive smuggling routes. [Continue reading…]