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The Boy who started the Syrian War

We tell the story of Mouawiya Syasneh, the boy whose anti-Assad graffiti lit the spark that engulfed Syria.

10 Feb 2017 12:29 GMTWar & Conflict, Syria’s Civil War

Mouawiya Syasneh was just 14 when he sprayed anti-government slogans on his school wall in Deraa, Syria. It was February 2011, and he could never have imagined that such a minor act would spark a full-blown civil war.

More than half a million people have been killed in Syria since the start of the war. Mouawiya’s home city has been ravaged by street fighting, shelling and barrel bombing. The war has left scars that may never heal.

Now a young man, fighting on the frontline for the Free Syrian Army, Mouawiya admits that had he known what the consequences of his actions would be, he would never have taunted the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad.

His life has been transformed by that adolescent prank. He has lost friends and relatives, including his father. And Syria has been changed for ever.

The Boy who started the Syrian Civil War offers a glimpse into life in Deraa since the start of the conflict.

We meet Syrians trying to lead normal lives amid the chaos as well as those who have taken up arms against Assad’s forces.

FILMMAKER’S VIEW

by Emmy Award-winning producer, Jamie Doran

I was in Moscow recently, chatting to people you might have thought would have known better. Educated folk, among them an experienced journalist. I had asked them a simple question: how did the Syrian war begin?

They uniformly launched into the answer that has been peddled so often in recent times, that it has now become fact in certain circles: “It was the terrorists who started it all.”

The fact that ISIL in its current form didn’t even exist in Syria at the time, or that al-Nusra wouldn’t arrive until many months afterwards, appear to have been conveniently forgotten – not just in Moscow but in most media coverage around the world.

The surprise, even shock on their faces when I pulled out my laptop and showed them the trailer for our latest film for Al Jazeera, The Boy Who Started the Syrian War, was a wonder to behold. They simply had no idea.

They claimed they hadn’t been aware of how, for decades, dissenters towards government authority had faced the daily dread of a visit from the secret police, of torture, disappearance and extrajudicial execution.

They had apparently never heard about how fathers were frightened to allow their daughters to be alone on the streets for fear of abduction, rape and murder at the hands of the Shabiha, Assad-family militias that operated with virtual impunity.

And they were totally unaware that it was a mischievous prank by adolescent schoolchildren that lit the fuse that set a country ablaze.

Early in 2016, I was sitting in Books@Cafe, a hangout for liberally minded Jordanians on Al-Khattab Street, Amman, with cameraman and filmmaker Abo Bakr Al Haj Ali. He was busily puffing away on his narghile (hookah), as we discussed how Deraa, the city which had given birth to the revolution, had been virtually ignored by the media in recent years.

One of the reasons it had been overlooked was that the Jordanians wouldn’t let any Western journalists cross from their side. Almost the only other option was an official tour of government-controlled areas via Damascus that didn’t appeal to me at all, even if they had let me in, which was rather unlikely.

I’d spent the previous week sitting on the border, just an hour’s drive from Deraa, having established an agreement with the Jordanian military which would have made me the first Westerner allowed to cross over in three years.

READ MORE: Syria’s Civil War Explained

There I was, in the border compound about to leave Jordanian soil, when a call came to the post. Moments later, I was very politely placed in a saloon car … and driven back to Amman. I later found out that the representative of the British intelligence agency, MI6, in Amman had advised the Jordanian government that it would be a bad idea to let me cross … even though I was travelling on an Irish passport!

So, back at Books@Cafe, Bakr and I sat chatting about how we could make a film about Deraa without my physical presence. It’s his home town. His territory.

“So, who do you know, who was there at the very beginning?” I asked.

“I know the commander, Marouf Abood, who set up the very first people’s militia, after government troops attacked his village,” he responded.

“Interesting. And who else?”

He went on to reel off half a dozen names; commander this, commander that.

“Come on, Bakr. You must know someone else, someone different. Someone fresh,” I said.

Continuing to drag deeply on the narghile, deep in thought, he told me that there was no one else that was really very interesting.

And then he added: “Well, I suppose there’s the boy who scrawled the anti-Assad graffiti on his school wall that started the war.”

It was one of those moments where you could have knocked my 90 kilos over with a feather.

The boy who started the Syrian war! Think about it. It wasn’t ISIL, nor al-Nusra, nor any other terrorist group. It was an act of defiance, a moment of youthful rebelliousness, if you like, that led to an uprising which has seen more than half a million people killed and a country torn to shreds.

It wasn’t, of course, the fault of this 14-year-old boy and his three friends who joined him in this moment of adolescent disobedience – a prank which would have enormous consequences beyond their understanding. But when they were arrested by the police and tortured in a most horrendous way, a line was crossed from which there would be no turning back.

When their parents and families arrived at the police station to plead for their freedom, they were told: “Forget these children. Go home to your wives and make some more. If you can’t manage, send us your wives and we’ll do it for you.”

Anger rose. The fuse had been lit and, when police started randomly killing marchers in the demonstrations that followed, armed resistance became an inevitability.

READ MORE: The Syrian conflict does not end here

For me personally, this film has taken on an importance beyond many that I have made in the past. To be able to remind (and, in some cases, inform) a massive global audience of the true origins of the Syrian civil war, is an enormous privilege for a filmmaker.

For those directly involved in those origins, however, our film has provided an opportunity for reflection. So many have suffered greatly and sacrificed so much for a revolution which, by any calculation, is and will remain incomplete, no matter what the outcome of negotiations.

Mouawiya Syasneh, The boy who started the Syrian War, is now a young man who, like so many other young men in Deraa, carries a Kalashnikov rather than a satchel these days. As viewers will discover, his own family has paid a dreadful price for the events that followed his actions back in February 2011.

His own reflections are now a matter of record for the first time.

Article from: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/specialseries/2017/02/boy-started-syrian-war-170208093451538.html

Video from Al Jazeera English:

Published on Feb 10, 2017

SPECIAL SERIESSYRIA’S CIVIL WAR
The Boy Who Started the Syrian War
We tell the story of Mouawiya Syasneh, the boy whose anti-Assad graffiti lit the spark that engulfed Syria.
09 Feb 2017 10:22 GMT Syria’s Civil War, War & Conflict

Mouawiya Syasneh was just 14 when he sprayed anti-government slogans on his school wall in Deraa, Syria. It was February 2011, and he could never have imagined that such a minor act would spark a full-blown civil war.

More than half a million people have been killed in Syria since the start of the war. Mouawiya’s home city has been ravaged by street fighting, shelling and barrel bombing. The war has left scars that may never heal.

Now a young man, fighting on the frontline for the Free Syrian Army, Mouawiya admits that had he known what the consequences of his actions would be, he would never have taunted the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad.

His life has been transformed by that adolescent prank. He has lost friends and relatives, including his father. And Syria has been changed forever.

The Boy Who Started the Syrian Civil War offers a glimpse into life in Deraa since the start of the conflict.

We meet Syrians trying to lead normal lives amid the chaos as well as those who have taken up arms against Assad’s forces.

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Barrel Bombs Assad’s ‘Latest Barbaric Act’ Attack on Syria

Syrian government dropped barrel bombs on a displaced persons camp in the northwestern province of Idlib.

“It’s a massacre of refugees!” “Let the whole world see this, they are displaced people. Look at them, they are civilians, unarmed displaced civilians.”

6000+ Barrel Bombs had been dropped by the Assad’s regime on different populated cities to punish his own people since the 2011 uprising.

Syria Bashar al-Assad Regime Atrocities Crime against humanity

Article: http://australiaplus.com/international/2014-10-30/refugee-camp-barrel-bomb-massacre-footage-shows-horrific-aftermath-of-attack-in-syria/1384805

Syria’s Children: A Generation Lost to War?

The trauma-filled tragedy of Syria’s child refugees
The Syrian civil war is creating a generation of traumatized, isolated and under-educated children, child Breadwinners who are vulnerable to exploitation.

Hundreds of thousands have been uprooted to flee with their families, frequently witnessing death, destruction, Airplanes drop bombs, Soldiers fire guns at civilians, Houses are consumed by flames, Tanks roll down streets lined with flowers.

It will be years before anyone knows if the emotional wounds caused by the conflict will leave permanent scars.

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie said, “The world must act to save a generation of traumatized, isolated and suffering Syrian children from catastrophe.”.

Syrian children tortured by Assad Regime

Articles:
Syria War Creates Generation of 1.1 Million Lost Children
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-29/syria-war-creates-generation-of-1-1-million-lost-children.html

Syria’s traumatized refugee children will be the ones to rebuild their country
http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/23/opinion/syria-million-child-refugees-mercy-corps/

Syrian war leaves children traumatized
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/syrian-war-leaves-children-traumatized/2013/01/01/5dfd668a-4a9e-11e2-b709-667035ff9029_story.html

#Syria #ASSAD #AssadCrimes #AssadWarcrimes #AssadGenocide #AssadHolocaust #syria_crisis #syria_conflict #syriacivilwar #torture #syrian_torture #syrian_refugees #childrenofsyria #Damascus #Aleppo #homs #Idlib #UN #NO2VETO

They beat, whipped, burned, shot, and castrated a 13 year old boy

People who brutally tortured and killed a child are not human!
Where are the human rights committees?
Where is the International Criminal Court?

Sadism of the Assad Regime’s Violence:
1) Male and child rape
2) Practice of sexual torture used on male detainees
3) Detainees were raped in front of their family
4) Their wives and daughters would also be raped
5) Some stated that they had been anally raped with batons
6) Beatings of genitals
7) Forced oral sex
8) Electroshocks
9) Cigarette burns to the anus…

The Syrian authorities are brutally torturing and killing prisoners simply for being involved in political protests.

13-year-old, Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, disappeared on 29 April during protests against the siege of Dera’a. The boy was later found dead with apparent blunt force injuries and a severed penis.

The body of another victim, Tariq Ziad Abd al-Qadr, from Homs, was returned to his family on 16 June. His family were horrified to learn the extent of his injuries, which included ripped-out hair, marks to the neck and penis possibly caused by electric shocks, an apparent cigarette burn, whipping marks, stab wounds and burns.

The body of Dr Sakher Hallak, who ran an eating disorders clinic in Aleppo, was discovered by the side of a road a few days after his arrest on 25 May. Sources said his injuries included broken ribs, arms and fingers, gouged eyes and mutilated genitals.

Hamza al-Khateeb

Read more articles:

Tortured and killed: Hamza al-Khateeb, age 13
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/05/201153185927813389.html

We’ve Never Seen Such Horror” – Human Rights Watch

http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/syria0611webwcover.pdf

Deadly detention – Amnesty International
http://www.amnesty.org/es/library/asset/MDE24/035/2011/en/874dfa1c-2041-4681-a610-dffe1aa1421c/mde240352011en.pdf

A 16 year old describes being arrested by Assad’s forces: “Once, I was arrested along with hundreds of other people. They separated out the children and I was the oldest at 16. … There was a group of small children with us whose parents were ‘wanted’. There were perhaps 13 children in total. They weren’t allowed food or water. When it was time for us to eat, their group was surrounded by armed men who stopped anyone giving them food. These children were too weak to even cry. They just lay on the floor. They were also subjected to repeated beating with sticks, worse than us. I knew a boy called Ala’a. He was part of that group. He was only six years old. He didn’t understand what was happening. His dad was told that his child would die unless he gave himself up. I’d say that this six-year-old boy was tortured more than anyone else in that room. He wasn’t given food or water for three days, and he was so weak he used to faint all the time. He was beaten regularly. I watched him die. He only survived for three days and then he simply died. He was terrified all the time.”

This story is not from Nazi-occupied Europe in World War Two. This is from Assad’s Syria in 2011-12.

Nerve gas attack in a Damascus by the Syrian Government

The brutal civil war in Syria, in its fourth year, is one of the world’s most urgent humanitarian crises!

Help Syrian Refugees Today

The deadly conflict in Syria

Read more articles:
Syria Civil War Fast Facts
http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/27/world/meast/syria-civil-war-fast-facts/

Save Syria’s bombed buildings from the Unesco ruin fetishists
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/17/save-syria-bombed-buildings-unesco-ruin

Emergency Medical Aid Arrives as Syria Crisis Grows More Deadly
http://www.americares.org/who-we-are/newsroom/news/new-medical-aid-underway-as-crisis-in-syria-intensifies.html?gclid=Cj0KEQjwtb6hBRC_57Pvyfn66LsBEiQAtlFVu2lGj8yM7DVwD85J7ZIqA46Y82f5LJ6uq3mNWXMSgJgaAqIQ8P8HAQ

Deadly Syria Crisis: Shipment of Nerve Gas Treatment Underway
http://www.americares.org/who-we-are/newsroom/news/deadly-syria-crisis-nerve-gas-treatment-underway.html