Sunday, 20 September 2015

Syria: My Mother, the Accidental Activist

A woman farms a small plot in Aleppo’s al-Fardous neighbourhood. (Photo: Baraa Al Halabi)

 'My mother hates to be touched, and she never hugs me. To her, I am an eccentric, because I am a female activist. The first time I was arrested by the government, she scolded me in harsh words. “We aren’t as strong as them,” she said over and over again. She seemed to think that just repeating that statement would put an end to my rebellion.
Up until the end of 2013, when the government imposed a total siege on Eastern Ghouta, my mother visited the area two or three times a week. Despite the short distance between the city and Eastern Ghouta, a suburb, the journey took a whole day. Every time she got ready to go there, she would ask me, “Is this situation going to last much longer? I’m fed up!” For her, I was a reliable source of information as I was a former detainee. My mother also began to tell me stories about the arguments she used to have with her classmates at school. Some of them were oblivious to the cruelties practiced by the Assad government, while she was proud not to support criminals and murderers.
On one occasion, she almost got me arrested for a fourth time. We had met an old friend of mine who supported the government. My mother was unaware of this and gave her a meaningful nod, telling her I was an active member of the opposition. My friend told her uncle, who worked in national defence. By some miracle, I wasn’t arrested. It was only then that my mother realised she couldn’t talk freely about politics. She wasn’t happy about it and complained to me, “So why did you start a revolution?” My mother continues to follow the news so that she can give me updates over the phone. She uses simple codes when referring to the government. “You know, the people you don’t like,” she says.'

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