Note: On January 7th, the U.S. Senate will hold another hearing on the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Senator Durbin, (D-IL) will preside as Syrian activists provide testimony.
We are live-blogging and live-tweeting The Coalition for a Democratic Syria (CDS), which is proud to present “Voices of Hope From Syria”. The event features special Syrian guest speakers from Kafranbel. As the organizers state, the strategy for sharing the voices of the Syrian people must shift and to represent the structural changes that have emerged since the revolution in Syria first started. The tour has traveled to 10 cities.
Specifically, CDS recognizes the changing focus from political protests to development and support of Syrian civil society. The strengths of Syrian expatriates living outside Syria boil down to “Capacity Building”, which means helping Syrians help themselves. Kafranbel serves as an example.
Raed Fares, Kafranbel’s Artistic Mastermind and Media Office Director (Kafranbel is a small town in Idlib Province)
- Town of 30,000 transformation: resurgance of civil society work as of Jan. 3, 2014 revamped revolution?
In Kafranbel, it isn’t true, there are 30K heroes.
The 23 million of Syria are a people who have been enslaved in service for a single family.
- 22nd of May, 2011 Syrian regime forces arrested 40 activists around 4 am and burned down homes.
- 4th of July, 2011: Assad regime sent tanks -entered Kafranbel and installed checkpoints and occupied towns. People first protested in front of tanks, but realized it wasn’t sustainable. So they started protesting outside the village so that the firing tanks couldn’t reach them–in orchards 300 meters outside of Kafranbel… the tanks would follow the next day, followed by the moving target of protests. Ironically, the protests drew the tanks further away. Later, ISIS entered, and protests restarted. (ISIS is on the side of the Assad regime.)
- February 2012, first formed Kafranbel battalion.
- Several massacres occurred, but specifically Nov. 5, 2012: a Russian fighter jet conduced mock raids on Kafrabnel. (Video in on Youtube, which is in Arabic.)
- Revolutionaries realized that they didn’t have the capacity to govern Kafranbel, so they recruited technocrats: engineers and doctors. Rather than rebuild the town, after destruction by regimes forces, needed to rebuild citizenship.
- Parallel government in place, which explains Kafranbel’s success for two reasons: 1) Organization by the people to demonstrate, record, and disseminate — which eventually coalesced into a Coordinating Committee; and 2) Persistence.
- About a year after, Kafranbel held elections and started to pay salaries for those working in the civil organizing capacity/staffing the office (3,000 Syrian pounds for individuals, 5,000 Syrian pounds for families).
- Vision is a Syrian state regardless of sect, religion or other traits. This state will provide for the dignity of the citizens first envisioned with the onset of the revolution. Sumud will bring freedom and liberation for all.
- The power of radio: alerts Kafranbel residents when regime fighter jets are approaching. It’s about a 20 to 50 km radius from Kafranbel’s radio station. Walkie Talkies cost $150, so not every person can afford to have one. Radio replaces this need.
- Aside from a media office, Kabranbel has a women’s center. First aid and language training, a program for women. Sewing and knitting for women to come and participate.
- ISIS attacks compound the challenges that Kafranbel faces as regimes forces conduct “operations”, e.g. 4 activists and a Editor-in-Chief of local magazine abducted.
- Makes a humble appeal to Syrian Americans to get more organized. Surprised that Obama wasn’t ready to attack after 70% of Americans were against striking Syria “as if Syria was a free country”. “Failure to deliver message to key decision-makers” in the U.S. by Syrian Americans. The American public should know what it going on in Syria. Shouldn’t be just organizing around a critical decision, but ongoing effort to organize so that the decision isn’t left to 11th hour.
@ramahkudaimi: Raed concludes Syrians dont want anything from US, but Syrians here failing when discourse of regime fighting terrorism is what dominates.
Razan Ghazzawi (@RedRazan)
- “Civil society activists have mostly left Damascus b/c we’ve been targeted by
- In the last 40 yrs, we didn’t have those skills to practice versus “how to recruit people” (knowledge transfer)
- There are some things that only students on campuses can do that would support outreach.
Wittiest Tweet of the Evening from @RamahKudaimi:
Razan sharing different acts of the revolution she has been a part of, all nonviolent civil resistance (white male leftists take note)