Saad is 28 years old and studies in London. He was born in a small town in Syria. At the age of 18 he moved to the capital city Damascus to study his undergraduate course for roughly 5 years.
Saad, what is your opinion about the incidents in Syria? Where do you get your information (internet, blogs, newspaper)? How would you describe the current political situation in Syria?
Saad: Finding right words to express the situation in Syria at the moment is very difficult. Seeing innocent people being killed every day with uncountable number of corpses lying in the street corners in Syria, makes your heart wrenching of grief. One question arises immediately: How could the country turn upside down like this?
The Syrian people are calling for freedom; everyone was born free and has the right to live free. Why I can’t be like anyone else in this world? We have been living in this situation since the 1970’s when the current president’s father came to power and started to put restrictions on the people’s freedom. In the 1980 a revolution had begun for the same reason (freedom) in the city of Hama – more than 40 000 got killed in a matter of days! A massacre had happened but was only very little spread around the world as news and information were not as accessible as today.
When the current president came to power, the Syrian people hoped that they could forget all the sadness and bad times and move on. At the begging of his reign we had a sort of freedom and the country started to breath out the winds of changes. But unfortunately it didn’t last for long, until the last year when we couldn’t stand it anymore and exploded.
As I mentioned before, I am from a small town which has faced bombing and shelling for more than one continuous week. When the tanks left, the town seemed to be like after an earthquake had hit it. It was like a ghost town. Even public places with innocent people such as the market got looted by the army. This is a simple example which I was told from my family and friends, which shows the extent of the bad situation.
The president Assad and his regime appear to think that Syria is some kind of farm they can simply do whatever they want to do with without being questioned. The corruption and injustice are unbearable: even for simple things one has to bribe, otherwise you won’t get it. Additionally, the unemployment rate is very high, not because Syrians are uneducated, rather vice versa as every year a huge number of graduates are not able to find a job and have to leave the country to seek opportunities. I personally have cousins living everywhere: from US to Golf area. The majority of them are carrying higher degrees, but seeking for a better life had forced them to leave the country. I’m one of them, which is so very sad.
I don’t really believe in media. Finding a neutral media which brings news transparently and truly reflecting is difficult. On one hand the US media and the west media in oppositions to the regime exaggerate the news in all possible ways. On the other hand, of course the regime has itsmedia which is used to support and distort the truth. Also at the beginning of the political crisis, the regime has banned all the foreign media unless the one which is on its side, so obviously it is impossible to obtain real information from the TV or whatever. Therefore neither me nor all the Syrian rely on news but we do rely on a word of mouth and witnesses who are in the heart of the revolution.
Do you have continuous contact with your parents and/or your family? Through which medium do you have contact? (phone, Skype, Mail)? Is it difficult to get in contact with your family?
Saad: Staying in contact with friends and family in Syria is complicated, especially in terms of internet and mobile networking. The regime has stopped the mobile network in the troubled cities, thinking that this would cut down the lines of communications between the rebels. However, this plan didn’t work out as other kinds of radio communications are being used. The internet on the other hand, hasn’t been easy to connect to lately and most social media platforms have been banned like Facebook, Youtube and many more. Therefore, browsing the social media and being on Skype is not easy and special programs to break the proxy are needed to connect at all. The only way to stay in touch with family and friends is the land line, but sometimes especially when there is army trouble, the line will be cut. This is exactly what happened to me personally: when the army entered my town, I wasn’t able to contact my family for a whole month at all, not knowing what was going on. Self-speaking, this was really frightening time.
At the moment you are living in London. When was the last time you travelled to Syria? Are you afraid of going home?
Saad: The last time I went back to Syria was before the uprising in December 2010. Since then, I haven’t been able to see any of my family or friends. To be honest, I’m very afraid of going back to my country. Even my dad begs me every time we talk, not to come at all and rather stay in London or any other place than Syria. Furthermore, I didn’t want to go back during my Master because I was scared of being stuck in Syria and not being able to come back and finish my study. Right now, I don’t know where to go if the situation stays the same. Hopefully, all the Syrians will be able to go back to Syria as soon as possible because we all love our country and we don’t want replace it with any other.
Laura Kremer/Masterstudentin des Think Tank der HdM