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Breaking the Silence from Opposition held Territory

Exclusive with Om Amran from Syria

Interview and Editing by Joanne Roberts

Following the recent chemical attacks in Douma there are many voices that are being heard. This reminds me of the beginning of the revolution back in 2011. There was mass coverage of the Arab Spring all over the Middle East. The difference with Syria was the narrative. From the very beginning Assad tried to paint a picture of him and his regime versus terrorists. These people were never called protesters. They were branded dissidents, traitors and terrorists from the beginning. The voices that were never heard in this revolution was that of the revolutionaries themselves.

As quickly as they became loud and proud they were detained, tortured, disappeared and killed. What remains now is a population who know that if they speak up they are at risk of losing their life or putting those they love at risk of harm. It is for this reason people like Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett are so dangerous. The two of them never speak up for those in opposition held territories and never give them a voice. They are happy to be puppets for the Assad regime. According to these women these voices do not matter. To me they are the most important.

We will speak with Om Amran from Opposition Held territory and see if we can spread the truth. So many people have been silenced in this conflict and for those brave enough to speak out we should give them a chance to fight back. As the saying goes "The pen is mightier than the sword".

Question 1: Looking back 7 years ago to the start of the revolution. How did you first hear about the protests? Did you and your friends ever attend?

Hafez Al Assad "the father" ruled Syria for nearly 30 years. During his rule the Country relied on the security and military devices. His rule was repressive and tyrannical. He put all the legal powers and the authority in his own hands. Any opponents were shut down and sent to prison.

When he died the Syrian constitution was amended in July, 2000 reducing the presidential age from 40 years to 34 years. This was done to enable Bashar Al Assad "the son" to run for the position in succession of his father. In spite of "the son" being open minded the Country remained under Emergency rule of the military and holistic. Nothing changed for the people of Syria. The Iron Fist remained.

The demonstrations against the regime holistic started sweeping some of the Arabian states between 2010 and 2011 (Tunisia, Egypt) and Syria was one of them. The demonstrators demanded to change the regime and make repairs constitutionally and politically.

Demonstrations in Syria began in the city of Daraa in early 2011. They soon spread to the rest of Syria. I attended many demonstrations with my friends. The demonstrations were peaceful and the demonstrators did not carry any weapons. There were men, women and university students in the demonstrations. They just wanted their right to live in a state of Democracy but security devices shot them and killed many.

Question 2: During the protests were you and your friends excited about the thought of a change in regime? Was this something the Syrian people and their youth dream about?

When my friends and I heard about demonstrations in Daraa we had met with each other and thought alot before we made the decision to join the protests. We did not make this decision for the futility. Assad "the son" and before him "the father" ruled Syria with a fist of iron and Syria stayed as a farm for the Assad family for a period of 40 years.

Most of the protesters were young and wanted Freedom and Democracy, they dreamed of a state of equality and justice such as the rest of the civilised World but the regime killed and arrested thousands of them.

Many of my friends have been arrested and still many of them are in prisons and we do not have any idea about their location until this moment.

Question 3: Were the Syrian people paid by the CIA to attend protests? Did anyone force you or your friends to attend or participate in the revolution?

This is the most strangest idea I have ever heard. The demonstrators were not looking for money they wanted Freedom.

There are several points to make this point invalid:-
a) The Protesters knew they may be killed or arrested if they participate in the demonstrations, so is it reasonable to kill themselves for any amount of money?
b) sometimes the demonstrations included thousands of protesters. In this case they need to have a large budget.
c) After more than 7 years Assad has killed thousands of people and arrested thousands of Syrians. Millions of them are displaced from their homes and he is still the president! For me this means that it is Al Assad who is receiving the support, not the poor Syrian people.

My friends and I joined the protests because we believe that Syria needs policy changes. We were subjected to prosecution and detention. We were fired from our jobs and displaced from our homes. Sometimes we found nothing to eat but that wasn't important because we believed in our idea.

Question 4: When the Assad regime started shooting at protesters. Were the Syrian people surprised by his actions? Did this deter people or inspire them to continue in their fight for Freedom?

I told you that Assad "the father" and "the son" was dependant in their rule on the security and military devices. They built many prisons and security branches in all of the Syrian provinces. Those responsible for these branches were members of the Al Assad family.

When the Assad regime started shooting at protesters they weren't shocked because they knew that the Assad family would not leave authority easily. What shocked the Syrian people was the Arabic and Foreign states position. Assad used his airforce and destroyed city after city while the world just sat watching in silence!

The rebel people at this point realised they were alone so they decided they should carry weapons to defend themselves. Unfortunately countries such as Russia and Iran supported the Syrian regime and began to say that the protesters were terrorists.

Question 5: How many times during this conflict have you been forced from your residence?

I have been displaced about 5 times but I have been forced from my home twice. The first one was in 2012 when the security devices stormed Harasta city and occupied many houses. The second time was in 2013 and I left my house because of the battles that took place between the opponents and regime forces. I have not been able to return to my house since that period.

Question 6: Have you ever heard of Vanessa Beeley from the UK? She is supposedly an independent journalist who speaks on behalf of the Syrian people. She claims that Assad does not use chemicals nor barrel bombs on his own people. What are your thoughts on that?

I have heard about her a bit. For me Vanessa is one of dozens of journalists who do not practice their profession honestly.

I want to ask Vanessa a set of questions:-

a) Have you ever been in areas beyond the control of the regime to know the truth?
b) Who destroyed the cities if the owner of the airforce is the regime and it's allies?
c) Is it logical for the opposition to kill their own children and women with chemicals?

I want to say to Vanessa and all journalists that the profession of the press must rely on truthful transfer of fact, they must have proof and true evidence.

In the end we don't care about Vanessa's opinion because history and her profession as a journalist will be held accountable because she didn't convey the facts honestly.

Question 7: Do you know who the Civil Defence (White Helmets) Are ? What is their role? Who can join? Do you know anyone in the Civil Defence?

The regime suppressed protests violently and used all kinds of weapons against the protesters. For this reason protesters created field hospitals and medical points to treat the wounded and injured. Many Doctors, Nurses and Volunteers worked in these hospitals. Later these volunteers formed the so called Civil Defence. They were able to get financial support from outside parties and to provide supplies to the wounded and injured.

Today the Civil Defence Teams (White Helmets) has spread in all areas beyond the control of the regime. They became a big organisation in both humanitarian and civil matters. Their members are comprised of volunteers and trainers both male and female.

I have friends who work in the Civil Defence the majority of them being women. These women love their jobs and they were volunteers since its inception.

Question 8: After 7 years of conflict and the suffering you have seen. Are you sorry that the Syrian people stood up to Assad?

Protesters managed to withstand a repressive regime who ruled the country with an iron fist for 40 years. They were able to bring about political, social and economic changes.

I can't say that I am sorry because the protesters stood up against Al Assad. This was the will of the people but I wish now after 7 years of suffering that the war would stop. I wish we could rebuild our Country and ourselves democratically.

Question 9: Do you feel that your Revolution and fight for Freedom was hijacked by outside interference? If so when do you think this outside interference started?

From my point of view there are two sides to the interference in Syria, one of them is positive and the other is negative.

The Positive one - I think that the intervention in some states prevented the regime from killing more people. The regime had no problem killing each and every protester against his rule. For example, In 1980 Assad "the father" killed and arrested all protesters against him in Hama City (You can search for this on the Internet). At that time there wasn't any media to tell the truth about what happened. These protesters died in silence.

We don't deny that external interference sometimes supported opponents materially and morally. This forced the regime and the opposition to sit at one table for dialogue and negotiation to end the war.

The Negative One - The most serious states, groups and militia that entered Syria and everyone was looking for their own interests. This led to a conflict between these states and groups and the Syrian people were a victim of that. On the other hand Syria was divided into regions and every region controlled by a state or group.

I can say that the external interference in Syria was a result of dividing Syria and the displacement of the Syrian people. Unfortunately the international community especially the Security Council did nothing to stop this.

Question 10: Following 7 years of suffering and wartime. Do you think that Syria will heal? Will there always be the great divide of those that support Assad and those that do not? Can you see future generations having the courage to speak up against Assad as you did?

In fact this is a difficult question to answer but I think that the war in Syria will end someday and new generations will come. Therefore we must from now on teach the new generations about tolerance and the importance of accepting other's opinions. We must stay away from vengeance. In order to get to that point Assad must leave. The political system in Syria should change. Extremist groups should leave the Country. If this does not happen the war in Syria will go on.

In my opinion the Syrian people bear pain and suffering because they demanded freedom and after 7 years they learned how to say "no" in the face of injustice.

Now we need a political solution to stop the bloodshed. Supporters and Opponents must stand together against the massive destruction of Syria.

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