AntiNote: The following article, written almost exactly two years ago, has special significance to us for several reasons, primary among them of course the subject matter—the gas attack in the outskirts of Damascus whose second anniversary was just observed by Syrian liberation activists and allies around the world—and the author.
Razan Zeitouneh is an award-winning Syrian human rights lawyer and activist who was abducted along with her spouse and two colleagues just a few months after writing this heartbreaking eyewitness account of the Ghouta massacre. Her story is one that should be far more widely known, and that provides a glimpse of the shape that the civil society movement took (though the assumption is widespread that it disappeared completely) after the Assad regime decided to counter the uprisings of 2011 with barbarous violence. Efforts to find her and secure her release have not ended.
Resources in English about the movement of which Razan Zeitouneh was a part and the context in which she worked are relatively rare but not inexistent. A good place to start is a medium-length documentary in Spanish and Arabic (with English subtitles), Ecos del Desgarro, which we recently shared in the Cinema Utopia section of this site.
“We have grown accustomed to the fact that anything is possible in this war and that the sole means to confront it is to prepare for anything.”
East Ghouta, Syria
I am trying to replay that day in slow motion in the hope of bursting into tears as any “normal” person is supposed to do. I am terrified by this numbness in my chest and the fuzziness of images running around in my mind. This is no normal reaction after a long day of tripping on bodies lined up side-by-side in long and dark hallways. Bodies are shrouded in white linen, and old blankets show only faces that have turned blue, dried foam edging their mouths, and sometimes, a string of blood that mixes with the foam. Foreheads or shrouds bear a number, a name, or the word “unknown.”
On Monday, 20 July 2015, the ultra-reactionary movement Daesh (known as the self-proclaimed Islamic State) targeted a cultural center in Amara (in the district of Suruç, Turkey) which was hosting a meeting of 300 young Kurdish leftists, members of the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF). They were preparing to go to the nearby town of Kobanê in Syria, in order to participate in its reconstruction.
These young revolutionaries had left Istanbul the day before, to present themselves as “Children of Gezi”—children of the protest movement that began in Istanbul in June 2013. In a video for their campaign, a socialist youth of the SGDF said: “We will plant five hundred trees in the name of revolutionaries who were killed in the resistance against the Islamic State in Kobanê. We will also plant fruit trees in the name of Berkin Elvan [who was killed during the Gezi protests at the age of fifteen], reconstruct the war museum in Kobanê, rebuild the library and nursery at the cultural center, build a playground, and join the cleaning efforts in the city center of Kobanê.”
These young people were bringing books, toys, and clothes, as well as young trees to plant. The terrorist attack caused the death of more than thirty of them, and injured over one hundred.
The frenzied world-wide front is expanding Mercy to no one, no one, no one!Stanza from 1989 Russian anarchists’ song Vintovka – eto prazdnik (The Rifle is a Holiday) by the Russian punk band Grazhdanskaya Oborona (Civil Defense)
By Aleksandr Volodarsky, originally published by Chetvyortaya Vlast’ and
The annexation of Crimea, the “Novorossiya” project, and the fight against the “Kyiv junta” are not supported in Russia alone. There are political forces around the world, both marginal and relatively respectable, which voice their support for the separatists in the Donbass. At times, activists themselves travel to the war zone as volunteers, but they mostly hold demonstrations in support of the separatist republics and pressure their governments to renounce their support for Ukraine and “stop the aggression against Russia.”