A Question Especially for Bashar Al Assad
Every day and at the same time at exactly noon I wait for them, I open the windows so I can hear them well and hear their chanting, “And how beautiful is freedom!” The voice of the leader of the protest or the lead chanter is raised, and he is one of the children, and the rest of the young protestors or the young adults (based on the age or the level of the participating school) answer in one voice, “How beautiful is freedom!” This is followed by other chants, inspired by their understanding of the revolution, and of course they never forget to repeat for the millionth time, “The people demand the removal of the regime,” and, “The people demand the execution of the president.”
These are the students of the new Syria…the Syria of revolution and killing- upon their dismissal from school in the day time and during the evening. These students have learned since the beginning of the revolution how to coordinate with each other to go out in a demonstration after school is dismissed, and how to assign tasks among themselves and how to protect themselves. Some specialize or are charged with the chanting of the slogans, some are charged with securing and bearing the banners, and other still organize the students when walking the protest path. Yet another group focuses on keeping an eye out, walking behind and around the demonstration, tracking its movements for fear of the arrival of security forces who will shoot them with bullets and spray them with tear gas, and the sure arrest of some of them…this is the scenario which takes place every day. It is my luck that my home is in the middle of the town, surrounded by four schools of all age and education levels, allowing me to wait behind my window at the appointed time, stealing glances at them as they go out demonstrating, either in one large demonstration if they are able, or with each school in its own demonstration.
I continue to focus greatly to see what they will do, and sometimes my heart beats quickly from the fear of the arrival of security agents and army who will unleash weapons, which lights the sky in the whole area with fear and silence. Upon their arrival the students go running with alarm into alleyways and lanes, and climbing the walls of houses and stairs, for the most important thing is to get away from the killers, if not for that then for the other thing which I fear, that I bear witness with my own eye the arrest of one of them once again…as recently I bore witness to this scene:
“Four days ago more than more than two hundred soldiers descended on and surrounded the junior high or middle school as they call it, and they grabbed a child who was eleven years old when he fell to the ground, running in front of them. He was thin and the color was withdrawn from his face. One of the soldiers caught him and began to assail him with a beating using the butt of his rifle, until more than four of the soldiers gathered to kick him and step on his back, abdomen and neck with their military boots, and cursing and using the lowest of words against him and his family and the school and the revolution. They pulled him by his hair as his wailing filled the street and the neighborhood. All of the teachers came out from the school, silently glued to the scene and looking at one another, not daring to pull the boy away from the hands of the soldiers out of fear that they would replace this boy. All of a sudden an older woman intervened and threw herself between them, saying to them, “Indeed he is my son, what are you doing, the boy is going to die between your hands, may god revoke his blessings from you and from Bashar.” She pulled the boy with all her strength from between their hands, withthe assistance of two women who happened to be passing by in the street. They disappeared quickly once they were able to free this boy…and I do not think that they are relatives, but were just passing by. It was as if the soldiers were shocked by the intervention of women and they took a step back and began to use obscene insults toward the women and people of the city.”
Praise God for the minor nature of this incident…how lucky is this child!!! He fled after being halfway to death and escaped detention. It’s not an insignificant episode, for every day dozens of students who are children are arrested for taking part in peaceful demonstrations seeking freedom. The amazing thing is that they regroup and try again and redraw plans, facing death as if it were something normal…and even now they gather to sit with each other and talk about their experience in detention and how the detainee can “escape” the hands of the interrogator, without admitting to the crime of “protesting” and some of them are still stained with blue bruises and scratches like the lines of a map drawn on their small bodies. Has history ever recorded that a child of eleven years old, or even of nine or eight years old as has been reported, is dragged to prison because he dared to walk in a demonstration? This occurs only in Assad’s Syria.
Here, I ask you, Bashar al-Assad, as you persist in murder and you think that you will be able to force the Syrian people back to the fold of your servants, and to turning back the clock … how do you think you will be able to reprogram the brains of these children who have removed the reins from their neck to forget their demand for freedom and forget that they have lost their childhood in the face of the hordes of your army? Do you think you will be able to prevent them from becoming men who follow political news and analyze the scenarios of victory and become critics of the movement and organize demonstrations after they have faced your bullets with their bare chests? I advise you as their free voices fill my ears with their chants now, as I am writing my book…to leave or commit suicide, for there is no longer a place for you or your regime or your rotten family in the maps of the minds of our young.