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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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Enforced Disappearance in Syria by Assad Regime

A prisoner’s Dream

I dream of seeing my family even if only for one hour.
I want to kiss my kdis and make sure they are alive.
Even if I come back to die, I don’t mind.
_____________________________________________________________

I dream of getting out of here.
I don’t wanna waste my life here.
If I am released now, I may still be able to catch up with my
University exams…
Maybe, I wouldn’t lose that much then…

_____________________________________________________________

I dream of an antibiotic pill to cure the skin inflammation
and dimples that are eating me up.
I want to get rid of the humiliation and the ugliness of my
“scales-like” skin so that those who carry my body for burial
would not be disgusted and my cell-mates are not repulsed by
the rotting smell.

_____________________________________________________________

I am craving for a piece of pistachio sweets.

_____________________________________________________________

Detained doctor: ‘Prisoners just want to die to end the pain’


Save The Rest
Published on Sep 22, 2015

This is what’s happening in Assad’s prisons #SaveTheRest … They deserve to live freely!
هذا جزء مما يحصل في سجون الأسد : ورود سوريا وخيرة أبناء سوريا وبناتها تغتال بصمت… أنقذوا البقية .. لأننا نحتاجهم .. لأنهم يستحقون الحياة

Syria Assad Regime Military Retaliation – Houla Massacre

According to the United Nations, 108 people were killed, including 34 women and 49 children, they were killed in the attack overnight between 25 and 26 May 2012, most knifed or shot at close range. Most of the massacre’s victims had been “summarily executed in two separate incidents and an “entire families were shot in their houses” in the village of Taldo.

Video later emerged on the Internet showing the bloodstained bodies of many children huddled on a floor in the dark, some with their skulls split open, some with their throats cut, and others knifed or shot to death.

The video also featured a man’s voice screaming, “These are all children! Watch, you dogs, you Arabs, you animals – look at these children, watch, just watch!”

UN investigators have reported that most of the dead were summarily executed, the consistent testimonies of victims and witnesses with direct knowledge of the events stated that the massacre was committed by pro-government Shabiha.

Channel 4 news reported that Houla residents stated that the Syrian military and government-hired Shabiha were the perpetrators of the massacre, as claimed by opposition groups. Townspeople described how Shabiha, who were thought to be men from Shia/Alawite villages to the south and west of Houla (Kabu and Felleh were named repeatedly) entered the town after several hours of shelling. According to one eyewitness, the killers had written Shia slogans on their foreheads (the Alawi faith is a Shia sect).

An elected president free to kill his own citizens and nobody would stop him! Innocent unarmed civilians: men, women, children and infants were brutally slashed, hacked to death with knives or shot at close range in their own home. This manifestation of the sectarian hatred fomenting within the country.

“What happened in Houla and elsewhere (in Syria) are brutal massacres which even MONSTERS would not have carried out,” Mr Assad said in the televised address.

Syria Assad carry out Al Houla Massacre on May 25, 2012

Houla Massacre: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houla_massacre

Syria crisis: Assad denies role in Houla massacre:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-18313129

Syria President Bashar al-Assad
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bashar_al-Assad

Syria Assad army dropped vacuum bomb on school in Aleppo

Syrian Civil Defence sources, at least 10 people, including students and teachers were killed by vacuum bomb attack on an elementary school Saad Al-Ansari in the northern city of Aleppo on April 12, 2015.


Published on Apr 12, 2015

Read more Articles:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/12/us-mideast-crisis-syria-idUSKBN0N30I020150412

http://www.worldbulletin.net/headlines/157755/assad-army-dropped-vacuum-bomb-on-school

The impact of war on children-Syrian Refugee Crisis

Published on Mar 6, 2014

Syrian children need our help. The impacts of war are devastating and this conflict has already consumed three long years. Let’s speak up: Don’t let the #childrenofsyria lose another year to bloodshed and suffering. #NOlostgeneration

How you can help:
-Learn more and donate to the Syrian Refugee Crisis appeal at http://www.worldvision.com.au/syria
-Sign the petition http://wva.me/petition4syria

Syrian Refugee Ibrahim’s Story

Ibrahim is a Syrian boy living in Zaatari refugee camp, in Jordan. This is his story.

Published on May 15, 2014

Syria Assad Regime – The Silent Ethnic Cleansing

Syrians: Blood fills our streets, our eyes and our hearts!

This is (photos) what Bahar al-Assad does to peaceful protestors, political prisoners, army defectors, political activists, students, medical personnels, journalists… A defector code-named Caesar smuggled this and thousands of other photos depicting the systematic slaughter of over 11,000 detainees in Assad’s prisoners. He asserts that over 150,000 detainees are at risk of liquidation. The State Department has independently verified Caesar claims and its officials compared Assad’s atrocities to Nazi policies.

Assad regime’s industrial-scale slaughtering reminiscent of the Nazi concentration camps is being carried by its security apparatuses! The Cruel Ruler was merciless in a war against a predominantly Sunni cities. Somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 perished, and thousands disappeared. Estimated 250,000+ die during the 4 years civil war.

The World community is content to be bystanders and look the other way!

The Syrians have a stark reading of their condition: they fight alone. No NATO planes are coming to the rescue, and no Arab cavalry. In the Western democracies, there is embarrassed frustration with Bashar, but a resigned admission that no help is forthcoming for this embattled population. If Bashar has wondered about the risks his terrible slaughter might incur, the “international community” has told him there is nothing to fear. But the story does not end with the heavy odds faced by the Syrian people. There is the rebellion, with all its dignity and fearlessness. And this surely will matter for the kind of Syria that will emerge from the struggle.

syria Assad Regime extreme cruelty to prisoner

As Syrians Rise In Revolt, Assad Emulates His Father’s Cruelty

http://www.newsweek.com/syrians-rise-revolt-assad-emulates-his-fathers-cruelty-67119