Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Syrian people and the yearning for freedom

photo courtesy of AFP/Getty and the Guardian
"The freedom within us is larger than the prison that holds us"
The terrible crises in Syria worsens. Protests by the Syrian people seeking an end to President Bashar al-Assad's authoritarian rule have been met by a brutal crackdown with the regime intensifying attempts to crush the revolt by killing 535 of its own people in the last few days.

The Guardian published this eye witness account of the regime's crackdown in one Syrian town.

The UK Guardian reports that:
"the Syrian regime has banned all foreign media and restricted access to trouble spots, making it almost impossible to confirm the dramatic events shaking one of the most authoritarian regimes in the Arab world....."

"....Friday was the second deadliest day since the uprising began in mid-March in Deraa, sparked by the arrest of a group of teenagers who scrawled anti-government graffiti on a wall. The protest movement quickly spread and is now posing the gravest threat to the 40-year rule of the Assad family"
 The Sunday Observer carries this piece by Zaki Shehab on the potential fallout of regime change in Syria across the Middle East:
The international consequences of regime change in Syria are many and complex. The fallout will be particularly marked in Lebanon and Palestine, and there will also be impacts on the country's alliances with Iran, Turkey, and Iraq, and, perhaps most importantly, on its relationship with Israel.

With their allies in Egypt overthrown, Israel may not welcome yet more regime change so close by.
Upheaval in Syria will not only affect its immediate neighbours – it will reshape the balance of power in the Middle East more than any event in the Arab Spring thus far.
It is remarkable to see the courage of the Syrian people who continue to come out onto the streets to resist and protest another authoritarian regime, despite the brutal crackdown. 

As Tariq Ali points out in this piece in the Guardian what is happening in Syria is an attempt to crush or contain genuine uprisings and protest. Ali argues that despite the West's pronouncements of its support for democracy in Libya, it continues to support dictators and despots in Iraq, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Syria, where Ali believes the West and Israel prefer that the Assad regime remain.
The Syrian poet Faraj Bayraqdar spent  over 17 years in Syrian prisons because of his political activity. He was released in 2000. His poetry speaks of the yearning for freedom in Syria. The extract below is from one of his poems.
Extracts from "Groans" 
Here I am you alone
In this mad, gaping
Here I am you alone and death altogether
With its predators and its seers and the informers
Perhaps I am arriving at
The limit of my possibilities
For you to arrive at the last
Flare up until you see me and
Become complete until I see you
My rose between two fires
Inflaming me
Hopefully I am inciting wisdom
In this ruin
I have tried
To the end of the flower and the fire,
Then, how have they isolated my voice
And your silence?
Have you leaned on a belated
Or have I been exchanged--one absence for another?!
With thorns the guard caresses
Your sparrows
And the state bestows upon you
A precautionary death,
And enough of the darkness
For you to go -so go
You are aware of the insanity of death,
Thus the music breaks out
And your myths are shaken
his other body is in the arena,
Are you asking me
Who has splattered a name . .
And the throne with blood . . . ?
No time . . .
This other body
Who has taken it from me
And who has taken me from it?
And who testifies that death
Has grown weary?
The obscure caresses its vacancies
with wires and blasphemy
I have tried often. . .
As the constellation has mourned the horizon of a poem
I said I have tried often
And with lilac, I have caressed
your night
I have not yet handed over my directions
To the judgment of the sand . . .
Behind me a time
Ashamed of the deceits of geography . . .
Thanks to the sparrow
That built a nest on the other
Window and flew.
Breaker of my back
Your shadow is now a spent tomorrow
Upon which I disperse my thoughts
And I call to you with what is in the spirit
From the groan of the horse . . .
Do you hear me . . . ?
I am calling
I am not searching for a collective grave
Rather . . . for my country
February 1993

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