Documenting #SyriaCrisis: Part 1- Individuals

Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.~Anne Frank, Author “The Diary of Anne Frank”

We remember reading “the Diary of Anne Frank” as part of our required elementary school reading list.  For many of us, her diary first exposed us to the terms: ‘hostages’,’Gestapo’, ‘They’re being gassed’; the concept of ‘Genocide’, ‘Gestapo’, and ‘political persecution’; and the narratives of ‘Holocaust’.  During World War II, Frank’s diary was not shared in real time.  She died in a German concentration camp before her diary was published.   Over fifty years later, Syrian civilians experience most–if not all–of the above dangers via political imprisonment and mustard gassing by Assad regime; the Syrian police force equivalent of Gestapo–Shabeeha and Mukhabarat; and their most recent #AleppoSiege, as the Hama Massacre reverberates in memories throughout neighboring Syrian towns.

PITAPOLICY’s new year’s resolution was to help document individual accounts from Syrians on the ground share what they are experiencing and witnessing.  After following a young girl from Aleppo, Syria, Bana Alabed (@AlabedBana) on Twitter, (thanks to her mom, Fatemah) many of us can stop pretending that pundits are the only sources of a reality experienced by Syrian civilians living in Syria.  Like Anne Frank, Bana chronicled her story of being held hostage by a repressive regime.  Unlike Anne Frank, Bana still lives.  But both survive through sharing her narrative: Anne through a written diary; Bana through typed tweets.

What?

We all agree that the Syria crisis has cost over 400,00 Syrian lives and wrought destruction leaving half of its 21 million citizens internally displaced, or seeking refugee outside of Syria.  Reporters and human rights watchers have documented in short and long form coverage.  But in one generation, the tragic events will have to be pieced together –and the historical narrative will largely depend on “who won?”– even though millions would have lost their homes, loved ones, or lives.

Why?

One of the reasons why the Holocaust narrative has become so mainstream is because a young girl’s diary documented the struggle to stay alive in Europe after the Nazi rise and the resulting concentration camps imprisoned Jews, Slavic people, Political dissidents (e.g. communists), Gays, and the Rumi people.  Because of Frank’s  persistence and discipline to keep a journal, publishers translated her diary in over 67 languages with over 30 million copies sold.  Her diary is what first introduced Generation X and Millennials growing up in North America and Western Europe to the Holocaust–as we learned about the related tragic events of WWII. Our most memorable quote:

“What is done cannot be undone, but one can prevent it happening again.”

illustrates how important it is document a narrative:  to remember tragedy, and work to avoid repeating those mistakes.  Clearly, we have not learned from her diary as the Assad regime violates his own people’s human rights every day, as he learned from his father, Bashar al-Assad, since 1970.

By no means are we discounting the power of civil society and the work that organizations provide as the Assad-led government has failed in its duty to protect its citizens (in particular those engaged in civil dissent).   But, individuals function as the building unit of an organization.  So before we talk about growing or regrowing the unit of ‘organizing’ via organizations, we believe we need to identify the basic unit of organizing first: the voice…and that voice comes from the individual… be it citizen, refugee, or political prisoner.

Objective: To emulate “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” and document a collection of civilian Syrian voices experiencing, or who escaped, the Syria crisis.

How To Meet Objective?

We realize that tracking Syrian voices on social media is a huge project. It will require various organized efforts.  Challenge 1: Identify how many social media outlets to cover, e.g. include Facebook postings by Syrians in Syria.

Challenge 2: Recognize that the Syria blackouts and electricity disruption has nearly eliminated many moments of narrative.

Challenge 3: Translate from Arabic to English since many authentic voices will only share in native Arabic.

Challenge 4: Verify social media accounts.

We recognize these challenges.  But in the meantime, we will take one small step by tabulating  at least one young Syrian girl’s story through her tweets on this page posting.

  1. PITAPOLICY commits to adding any suggested Syrian civilian social media account that is verified.
  2. PITAPOLICYwill support and help fund a Syrian Diaspora effort that also wishes to see Bana’s story published that will be part of a classroom reading list.

Perhaps the next generation will do a better job of respecting and enforcing human rights than our generation did.

Digital Diaries of Syrian Civilians

Digital Diary of Fatemah AlAbed– Started in December 2016

I hope you all loved apologies for anyone I didn’t answer for. I hope you all enjoyed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • I am just crying.. innocent kid dead. Why? Why? Today I need the world’s support to end the Syrian war. PLEASE I beg u, we do something.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Seriously for some people. seems that American shooting wasn’t a terrorist attack after attacker identified to be a white person.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Russian trolls & Assad supporters begging for unblock now. One says he enjoyed the amount of RT & likes he got under my tweets

 

 

 

 

  • I understand now Assad supporters are the worst people who can’t take even simple evidence. They are all about imagination thinking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • About the Internet in East Aleppo, u don’t know how many videos we didn’t tweet because of the net. All those we tweeted were difficult

 

 

  • For those wondering how can 7 year old tweet, I help her compose the tweets while she’s with me. I let her read all the replies & she enjoys

 

 

  • Yes speaking English is difficult for me & Bana. But when writing we research & also know what we know. I hope you understand now. Thank u

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • I can’t express my gratitude to you all when many of u said your happiest moment of 2016 was when “we got out of Aleppo” . God bless u all

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digital Diary of Bana Alabed

“I am very sad. No one is helping Syrian children. Please please please evacuate all of them out of the war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • They use to hide from the bombs. We are not hiding anymore. Peace is very new to us & we love everything right now.

 

 

  • No more bombing.. I have 20 days of peace in my life. I thought the world was just like Aleppo & bombing was normal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • I am a refugee, we are refugees. But we shall overcome this someday because i even overcame the Aleppo siege.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Because so many confused, I am setting up my own account. This account will only be about Bana & promise u it will be her own words.-Fatemah

 

 

 

 

  • I beg u to spread this. Mom in Syria countryside need urgent cardiologist & medical care. We will pay expenses. any doctor? Mention.-Fatemah

 

 

  • A mom inside Syria needs urgent cardiologist & care but denied so far. She’s pregnant & endured months of Aleppo siege. – Fatemah

 

 

  • Together we can change the suffering of people in conflicts around the world. Like u Aleppo, cry for Yemen, Iraq, Libya.. Etc – Fatemah

 

 

  • One of my friends wasn’t lucky to escape like me. One night she was killed in bombing. The world didn’t help her. – Bana

 

 

  • Hello my friends, how are you? I am missing my friends who were killed & buried in Aleppo. I am very sad tonight. – Bana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • People who were evacuated from East Aleppo are living in hell life in countryside. Can we support them? They need us right now. – Fatemah

 

 

 

 

 


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