Friday, 13 November 2015

Letter from Douma: 'Our children are being killed'

 'It usually begins in the morning, at around 8am, and lasts all day. But recently there has been a new development: now we sometimes have air strikes at night as well. We wake up when we hear the first bomb and say Alhamdulillah (thanks to God): we are still alive.

After breakfast, I go to my office - it's located in the building I live in, which helps me to minimise how much time I have to spend out on the streets. I work for the Syrian Nonviolence Movement, a civil society NGO founded in 2011, during the early days of the uprising. In terms of food, my family are among the lucky ones, as both my wife and I work. For breakfast we have labneh (strained yoghurt) or cheese and sometimes jam. And then later we have a second meal - today we had rice and tomatoes. Sometimes we have meat.

When I arrived, the city was newly liberated and there was an atmosphere of hope. Alternative schools, which do not run the state curriculum, and new organisations such as the civil defence forces and the new Douma city council were set up. There were also new cultural centres, newspapers, magazines and FM radio stations. It felt like the regime would soon fall. By October of that year, the siege had tightened. It was really hard. There was no food in the markets, no fuel, almost nothing at all, and no smugglers bringing anything in. There was no bread, and no flour to make it, no rice or potatoes.

 I was here when the regime used chemical weapons to attack the eastern Ghouta area in August 2013, and we really thought that something would happen after that to stop things. If a chemical attack against children isn't a "red line", then what is? That was the international community giving Bashar al-Assad a licence to kill. They basically said - you can kill more, and you can even bring in other armies to kill people if you are short of weapons and soldiers. 
 The entire world is watching Syrian children and women being killed by barrel bombs and air strikes, and yet nobody is taking any action to stop this massacre. The only way I find to stay positive is by carrying on. After losing loved ones, houses, jobs, savings … people have no choice but to go on. I stick to my ideas of nonviolence. We see now how the situation is getting worse and worse with more violence. Even if it does not look like peace is coming any time soon, that doesn't mean we should support more weapons and more violence now.
 I think the international community knows what could stop the killing in Syria, but they don't seem to care about Syrian lives.'

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