Time and Revolution
In the past weeks and months we at Peace X Peace have become more and more troubled by the violence playing out in Syria. This week we repost an article by Razan Ghazzawi, a Syrian writer and photographer who has been detained for her work. We hope that you enjoy this reflection on the revolution and share your thoughts in the comments.
People who do not live in a country that is living a revolution may not know that time is revolutionaries’ biggest enemy.
I have a 10-to-5 job, and after that I go to do some other work till 9, sometimes till 11. I get home to check my email and Facebook to discover new massacres, new statements, and further escalations on many levels.
In Damascus, civil society activists are powerful. They weren’t perhaps in 2011, but in 2012, they’re getting more organized, focused, and one thing you hear commonly among them these days is: “We won’t do the same mistakes we did in 2011.”
But we get home and check the news, mostly our Facebook, because not all videos are broadcasted by AJA or Al-Arabiya, not all demonstrations are mentioned by AJA, especially those carried out by “minorities.” Facebook has become the only non-censored news outlet for Syrians. The Local Coordination Committee (LCC) is run by seculars, hence we know for sure that if protesters from “minority” conventional communities took the streets or issued a statement, we won’t be hearing about it on AJA, but definitely on LCC.
Yesterday I got home at 11 pm. In my attempt to check my Facebook, I discovered that a massacre occurred in Karm Al-Zeitoun leaving eight children martyred.
I am one of those people who are against including children in protests. At times of revolutions, children should stay home, especially in cities like Homs and Idleb. But the children martyred last night in Karm El-Zeitoun were home, and that did not protect them; rather, it killed them. Yesterday the regime’s army bombed the neighborhood of Karm El- Zeitoun in the city of Homs and destroyed several buildings. Two whole streets were evacuated, and 27 civilians killed; many were injured.
I did not hear about it at work, I did not hear about it when I met other activists later on. We were busy with the revolution, but the regime’s violence keeps surprising us. Last night when I saw this picture I froze for a moment before I ‘shared’ it on my wall. I didn’t cry, I didn’t have room for more anger, I just felt helpless. I felt time was, is, not on my side.
I did not plan to wake up Friday morning and sit down to write this post. I had other plans for my Friday, but last night’s massacre changed my plans for today, and might well change them for the whole week. Because this Friday’s name, “The Right To Self-Defense Friday,” was not elected democratically [AR], but with cheating. Yet, and after last night’s massacre, Syrians now feel more outraged and will cry for the right to self-defense, even if they didn’t agree with the term the day before. That’s precisely how regime violence is pushing the country to more violence. That’s precisely how time moves very rapidly, and leaves you back in history.
In a country where people have been deprived for decades, decades, to organize, to initiate, to improvise, add to that the heavy police control over people’s lives, activists were left with one option: to organize secretly, quietly, and slowly, so that you don’t do mistakes, so that you don’t ruin crucial steps.
But time waits for no one.
So here’s the picture of how I am feeling: I move. With time, my movement becomes history when time moves too. In a present moment, I feel like I am living in the past, in history.
Which brings me to a term that in my opinion, is discussed inaccurately: “The Syrian Street.”
We’re talking about the same country, same regime and same revolution. But people assume that time moves linearly across Syria, and it doesn’t. It moves rapidly in Idleb, Homs, Harasta, Douma, and in other cities, but in the capitol, Damascus, where there is the biggest civil movement, the loudest secular discourse and the heaviest intelligence control, time moves very slowly for revolutionaries. That’s precisely why the term “street” is inaccurate.
The street, in cities that are witnessing heavy violence, like bombing, snipers, army besieging neighborhoods and many times whole cities, is living a whole different experience with the regime and hence with the revolution. Time to revolutionaries in these cities means: shortage of blood, of medical supplies, of food and milk to children, of doctors, of surgical tools, of places to hide safely. And sometimes it means “too late,” when you’re hiding in a place that’s being bombed, and you look at the faces near you and then realize, within seconds, this is the last thing your eyes will see in this world.
In cities like Damascus, where shooting did take place, protesters were targeted and killed, like in Kafarsouseh, Midan, and Barzeh neighborhoods. But Damascus does not witness such violence on a daily basis. Many were detained, but not one detainee was killed by torture in the Syrian capital. Those killed under torture were from the Damascus suburbs and other Syrian cities.
“The street” in Damascus, then, has a different experience with time. And accordingly, there is no one “street” inside Syria. There are several. If my time is moving slowly, for others it is moving very rapidly. Their time shocks me and them, but the shock I feel is different from theirs.
I am losing focus now, I am not sure if I am making sense or where I am going with this discussion. What I want to say is that time is not one at times of revolution. Even if we’re living on the same land, under the same regime, time differs, and instead of appearing as “one,” which many activists in Damascus are advocating for, I think we should rather enhance this difference.
The guilt we feel while witnessing the violence our people are suffering from in other cities should not be an excuse to silence our own voices that emerge out of different times and contexts.
There is no “authentic” street. There is no “authentic” voice. All protestors cried for “peace” in the first three months, but it’s now changed due to regime violence. In this context, here is a quote from an interview published today, conducted by human rights lawyer and activist Razan Zeitounah and a leader in the Syrian Free Army, Malek Ashtar, who said:
I say to the advocates of peaceful demonstrations to continue in their belief as long as there is hope for a peaceful solution, because the shedding of blood is not easy, even if peaceful solution will take a longer time, it is much better. I say to the advocates of militarism, beware of sectarianism, because the regime is playing with this card, and remember to be just to everyone, regardless of religion or sect, and don’t draw your weapon against anyone unless it is used to help people from injustice, there is no difference between a Muslim and a Christian and an Alawite or Kurd … We are Syrian, and our cause is one. This is not meant for advertising, this is what should be done if we want to actually reach the goals of our revolution.
According to LCC, 65 people were martyred on January 26th in Syria, including ten children, four women, and eight army defectors. Thirty two were martyred in Homs, twelve in Hama, four in the Damascus suburbs, three in both Idleb and Daraa, and one martyr in Damascus.
The names of children killed by the regime in Karm El-Zeitoun Massacre 26-1-2012 are:
6-Abdel Ghani Bahader
May your souls rest in peace. No words can describe what most of us are feeling today.
Read more of Razan’s work on her blog, Razaniyyat – رزانيّــــات
The views and opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Peace X Peace.