Friday, June 22, 2012

My brother's story with the revolution

This post contains the full interview of my brother Abdulla Al-Assil with the with the Brazilian (R7) News in English:
My brother was arrested in the first few weeks of the revolution in Syria and then he fled the country in November 2011.

 1-First of all, I wanted you to talk a little about what happened to you last year. You've been arrested, right? By whom? What was your accusation? How long did you stay in prison? How did they treat you there? Why and how did they release from the prison?

I've been arrested in the first of April, 2011 after participating in a peaceful demonstration.. our chants were not directed the president, not even to the regime ..all the chants were a kind of  solidarity and support to  with the other Syrian cities where  there were  dead ( or Martyrs as we do call referring to our religion).. and the rest of the chants were about  the peaceful movements and that the Syrian people are together whatever the sect, you belong to, whatever the ethnic group you are from…
Actually, I was arrested by civilians..While I was trying to withdraw from the demonstration, heading to my car to go back home, a man caught me and dragged me brutally from my clothes.
 I tried to run away, but he took off my shirt and beat with a thick stick on my thigh , at that moment I lost my balance and fell down, after that 7 other men came into sight… and started kicking me with their hands, legs and electrical sticks…they hit me with electrical sticks many times..
Moreover, when they were heading to security branch they forced me to commend on my knees, twisted my hand behind my back and dragged me on the street about 600 meters in that way they asked me brutally to do , insulting me and they keep beating me too…
Whilst  we were walking in our way, we passed by a march that support the regime , they threw me there, all of sudden supporters started kicking me , and I’m still remembering that someone of them hit me on my head with a wooden picture of the president…
When we reached the security branch, I was introduced to a high ranking officer…they told him that I was filming the demonstrations…all of sudden, I said in angry way: I didn’t take any videos, you can make sure from my mobile…
So he asked to give him my mobile, and I was surprised that one of the men took it from me outside and when I told him that he said: don’t be afraid, everything is going to be okay.
I asked him to stop hitting me, and he said: no one will hit you, don’t be afraid!
Suddenly he asked them to take me, they took me and started beating me once again raising my shirt on my face, so I couldn’t see anything…
 After that they took me to the basement, there was place like a reception, where they torture the detainees and then they took them to the dormitory…
 There, it was another place to find out, there was a 10 years boy and a man in the 40s, he was saying: I used to love Bashar Alasad, but after his last speech, I discovered that he is a liar and I hate him…so they keep beating him till the blood covered his face and his whole body, till he swoon…

After 9 hours, they called me in order to have an investigation….they asked me about what happened me , and I answered : I just participated in a peaceful demonstration…then I was forced to a sign a pledge that I will never participate in any demonstration otherwise I will face tough troubles…I signed the pledge and I was released…
In fact, the intervention of several people from family and friend and who were more known in the government have helped me to be released…

2-How did you decide to move to Kuala Lumpur? Is your family living there with you? How is your life now?

 After I was detained, I stayed in Damascus for seven month and half, yet I noticed that a number of detectives kept following me at university, after a while an order came from the security to my university to be fired from the whole universities in my county, because I am against the regime. one day before I left,  I heard that the security have come to my university looking after me and also came to my neighborhood asking my neighbors and  vendors their about me ..I was obliged to leave the country and travel to many countries in order  to continue my education… passing by  Lebanon,  Jordan, Spain, and France until I settle down in Malaysia because I can continue my studies here within terms , as well too Malaysia is more lenient  in procedures to get the visa…
I am alone  in Malaysia without my family..I came here and I don’t know anyone here…now after 3 months I start to get used to the life in Kuala Lumpur, but honestly  I am not happy, I am looking forward to going back to my country….and I keep saying: thanks god, because my situation is more better than a lot of Syrian refugees

 3- You put some videos on Youtube talking about the uprising in Syria. What's your objective with this videos?

I played a role in two short movies about the Syrian revolution.
In addition, I participated in (wroting) and directeing the first one of them
I launched a series called 'Nonsence' in which I conducted some messages about mistakes and wrong actions by Syrian oppositions in order to avoid it. I highlighted the shining sides of the revolution and stressed on the civilzed actions to reach a just and dignified state. I talked in it about the danger of promoting sectarian and extrimisim ideas and I tried to reject any hate speach that could ruin the revolution
I also kept criticizing the pro-regime people who are still supporting the killers as if they live in a different country from where killing is taking place

4-What do you think about ONU and Kofi Annan efforts to bring back peace in Syria?

I don’t have to think about it..obviously Anna plan failed in Syria.. we need more  tangible  support in the ground .. Anan plan didn’t do anything else than provide the Syrian with international monitors, and we  don’t need more monitors, we need effective actions .. Observing the situation will change nothing than more bloodshed in the area..we need real tangible support to change the balance of the power in the ground..recently many countries have expelled the Syrian ambassadors  and it’s considered as a good indicator and we are demanding for more steps.

5-Do you think Assad can stand or is just a matter of time for his resignation?

No doubts for anyone that Assad will resist till the infinity .. Assad will definitely topple.. Syrian citizens are not going to surrender till they will get back their freedom…it’s just a matter  of time…however the real fear is the cost of the bloodshed  that we are going  to pay until the collapse of Syrian regime…

6-Are you making plans to get back to Syria?

Every day I wish I could go back to Syria, yet it’s getting harder and complicated, as I am wanted for the special security, and they have told to my detained friends that many accusations have been assigned to me, such as I am with the armed  Militia and which is not absolutely true… I am amongst people that call for peaceful movements through my writings and youtube messages,…so if the situation is going to be as it is right now, I will think to sneak through any neighbor country border after finishing my studies…because I can’t wait more than this, even if it will cost my life, it doesn’t matter…yet for the moment, I think it’s still early to talk about it today….

7-Can you describe how was the life in Syria before and after the uprising?

It’s true that the life was quit and totally routine but it was dipped with the humility.. No one was able to say even a small criticize for the  smallest person in the government …the intellectual life was shut and prohibited except few things were allowed …any opposition idea leads Its owner to the Coercive disappearing for years and years and none could do anything for him.
The life after the upraising..I think the people have learnt how to put their opinions and discuss its … now we aren’t afraid to say what we are thinking about, we have broken that barriers of fear..but since the revolution erupted more than a year ago,  no day has come without hearing the sound of shootings..And since the third day of revolution no day came without watching the blood image and everyday we announce numbers of Martyrs… on news they become like the stock market, and the day when we have few martyrs, it’s the good day..Now we reached 15thousand martyrs and the number still increasing. Syria became colonized, divided and filled with dead….
No one knows when he will get An insidious bullet or dying in an explosion or slaughtered like a sheep….

8- Do you consider yourself a refugee? Did you ask for help in Kuala Lumpur?

 I am not a refugee, I live on my father expenses, and I didn't get any help from any government, whether Malysia or any other country. sometimes I wonder, am I really a refugee because I cannot go back to my country? and even if the goverment is not affording me any help from any country?... I am trying to escape from this sad feeling in order to reconcile with my self and keep in my mind that l the whole earth is a homeland for the human-being...

9- How is your day in Kuala Lumpur? Do you have friends? Do you use to talk with your family?

-Actually my days are usually boring...and I am trying to get accustomed with the new situation...I have a close friend here, and I started having new friendships with many people here...and I hope to find more friends because they will help in mitigating this feeling of loneliness...As you know that I am living far away from my country, so automatically there will be a culture-shock (different habits), 
In addition to this, I do rarely talk with my family due to communication issues in Syria, and even its interruption in most of times...

Photo: February 2012 - France, Sette.
Source: His Facebook Page

Thursday, May 31, 2012

My visit to Amnesty International

It has been a while since I last blogged in English. I have been using my Arabic blog on Wordpress in the last year to blog about the Syrian Spring. Anyway, I wanted to share with you my experience visiting the Amnesty International HQ in London last week.

Before I start, I have to tell that I am a member in the Syrian Non-Violence Movement SNVM which is a group of Syrian youths that believe in peaceful struggle and civil resistance as a way to achieve change. One of our biggest projects is called "Freedom Days" which is in co-operation with other non-violent groups. And we participated in organising the biggest strike in Syria "Karamah (Dignity) Strike"
Visit our Facebook page:

I was invited to attend the launch of the annual report 2012 of the Amnesty International as a Syrian activist. There was a press conference to launch the report officially and they wanted some activists to be available there to meet the media. This report is one of the most important reports in the world for human rights and it is published in May of each year. What is special in this report is that it is the 50th report of Amnesty and it comes after a significant year in human rights struggle especially in Arab world. Arab Spring was present significantly in the report of this year.

I arrived at the Amnesty HQ in London and met the team who was responsible for this press conference.  They introduced me to many other teams in AI. They were all very nice and helpful and they spent some time with me to explain what will happen next. After that I recorded an interview with the Amnesty news writer and it was published on their website titled: Exiled Syrian activist calls for international pressure on Assad. I talked about myself and the Syrian Non Violence Movement. I explained our objectives and how we see things should go in Syria. In addition, I talked about some projects and campaigns that we did till now.

After that the press conference was about to start so we headed to the press room and there I met Salil Shetty the Secretary General of the Amnesty International. I met as well two other activists; one from Ecuador and the other from Zimbabwe who were invited by AI to participate in this conf. We were introduced to the media as example of activists who worked with AI on human rights issues during the last year.

After the press conference I had some interview with the media including CNN, BBC, Euronews and others. I talked about the situation in Syria, about my family and the story of my brothers detention and about the Syrian Non Violence Movement. I talked as well about the International Community and its role in the Syrian situation. After we finished I went to the BBC World Service to record an interview for The World Today programme. Below you can find some of the links to media coverage of this events and my interviews with it.

Amnesty International Website:
CNN Website:
BBC World Service @36:00min:
IPS Inter Press Service new agency:
Catalonia TV 3/24:
Amnesty International Arabic Version (منظمة العفو الدولية):
ناشط سوري في المنفى يدعو إلى مواصلة الضغط الدولي على الأسد - عمر الأصيل
And couple of interviews which I don't have link to it.