Arrested and taken in for questioning before class was even over. It left us in a state of fear and confusion. Why was my friend being taken in for questioning when he never took part in anything even slightly suspicious and more importantly wasn’t even in the country for the past week! His teacher turned the other cheek as we showered her with questions, she said I’m not to blame it must be his friends. The shock and horror, as it was revealed that the teacher had informed the Mukhabarat to keep an eye on my friend.
As the fear in the air stifles your feelings, your thoughts, you could feel Damascus creaking under the weight of oppression and muzzled fear. It will explode. Phones switched off as hurried whispered conversations, carrying the latest news, take place, radio hosts professing their love for Bashar and their country, billboards and banners warning locals of ‘fitna’ and hotlines especially tailored against foreigners. State TV constantly bringing ‘thugs’ confessing that the Muslim Brotherhood had ordered them to attack civilians and attempt to stir a revolt. I wonder do the insane become sane here. I fear for my sanity day after day as my teachers assure me that these protests will soon be over and hopefully the ‘thugs’ causing all the trouble will be arrested. With the utmost will and conviction my translation teacher tries persuading us in class that protestors in Lattakia were protesting for street lamps not for their rights, God forbid.
However, as time rightly shows the protests are demonstrating increasing signs of an uprising. The fact that protests have been happening all over Syria and has trickled down to Damascus further proves that protests will not be quelled or intimidated by the ferocious Syrian Security forces. Monday became a cornerstone. Around 4:30pm a friend called informing us that there was a massive clash at our university campus. Pro-reform students began to protest and it wasn’t too long before security forces caved in, shot a student dead (at least) and arrested many. On Al-Ekhbaria TV and on Syrian State TV a student said that other young people “beat us with stones and they had a group of girls helping them. They wanted to provoke us to get into a fight with them so the media would depict the incident as a protest.” A Syrian friend told us moments later that they shut down our university. The next day as I made my way to the University Campus it seemed to be in its usual state minus the fact that there were security guards with guns held with their left hands and checking students ID’s with their right.
Although the number of students protesting on Monday in the Damascus University Campus consisted of only a few hundred students it is still significant enough to prove that protests in Syria are spreading, just maybe not as quickly as their neighbours, its increasing nevertheless. But then again here we must consider the liability that Syrians face compared to the successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. Such as the emergency law that gives the regime the upper hand to arrest people without charge, as well as the Mukhabarat who strike its citizens with fear and paranoia. Most importantly however, is the lack of organisation on behalf of political parties and movements. The path towards reform and political freedom may take longer than one can imagine, the question is do the Syrians have the will and determination to fight the battle to begin to embark on that path? We must wait and see what Friday may bring us.
Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East
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