Tuesday, 15 March 2016
"Doctor, Your Turn," The Young Men Who Started Syria's Revolution Speak About Daraa, Where It All Began
'Omar first heard about the graffiti at morning recess. It was winter, he was 14, in the middle of 10th grade, and his friends said it was just a prank. The day before, just after school, a handful of Omar's classmates found some red paint and scrawled, "Your turn doctor," on the school's wall. The "doctor" was Bashar al-Assad, Syria's dictator, and in Daraa, Syria, in February 2011, those words could get you killed.
It's been five years since Omar's friends wrote on their schoolyard wall; now the city of Daraa is divided between enclaves controlled by the Syrian government and parts that Omar says have been "liberated" by the Free Syrian Army. Omar avoided arrest, but his friend Yacoub, who was 14 at the time and also in the 10th grade, was not so lucky. Over the course of weeks, the police in Daraa completely brutalized Yacoub. They forced him to sleep naked on a freezing wet mattress, they strung him up on the wall and left him in stress positions for hours, and they electrocuted him with metal prods.
It was in Daraa, a mostly Sunni city well known for its well-to-do families and close military and financial links to the state and the Assad family, that the first full-blown rebellion broke out.