If you’re reading this right this moment it means that you should be down here in 517 Hamilton Hall! Seriously, we got seats itching for bums and fantastic speakers laying down the truth. Call it a study break, you deserve it, don’t you?
Well, if you somehow can’t make it (and tsk tsk) the Cub Pub has you covered, as always. It’s live-blogging time!
8:12 New Jersey Mayor Mohamed T. Khairullah is discussing how the Assad family gained political power in Syria, ultimately resulting in the Corrective Revolution where Assad’s father took power by force (1970s).
8:16 After taking power, Assad senior started provoking the Sunni Muslims, leading the Muslim Brotherhood to take arms against him. This starts a string of massacres by Assad forces in retaliation throughout the early 80s.
8:19 due to all these atrocities, violent attacks at the slightest provokation, many fled Syria. Kept people in check with “intimidation and bullying.”
8:21 There are 21 branches of Syrian Intelligence agencies. You need the permission of an agency to get married, open a business, etc. They can also make you disappear.
8:26 You have a national ID card in Syria, which is marked with a punch card when you vote. If you don’t vote you don’t receive food ration. Assad (the father still) is the only candidate on the ticket, so your options are “yes” or “no”. But if you choose “no” then you’re good as disappeared, that’s why Assad received more than 99% of the vote every year. “That’s the nonsense the Syrian people have to deal with.”
8:29 Assad (the son) also won in a puppet election (with 99.7% of the vote).
8:35 The revolution started after a few teenagers in a local school spray painted peace slogans (graffiti) on their school wall and were brutally tortured for it, causing mass outrage. “It’s an uprising for the dignity of the Syrian people.”
8:38 Not only has there been horrible violence, women and young girls have been violently raped, being passed down the chain of command. These atrocities are just some of the reasons that the opposition is unwilling to compromise with Assad’s forces.
8:41 Assad has told various Islamic groups that if he is deposed then the Sunnis will attack them next. This is building tensions between Islamic groups in Syria.
8:43 The floor has been yielded to Mr. Sarab Al-Jijakli, who’s sharing his personal story about Syria. Damascus is one of the oldest capitals in the world, there are vital ties between Syrian history and world history!
8:47 Utter brutality is used to suppress free speech: torture, gunfire… 23 million people live in Syria, and there have been 11,000 murders as part of the uprising. 100,000 have disappeared. 25,000 have become refugees.
8:50 Three common “NO”s that the protestors have agreed to: NO to violence, No to sectarianism (not being separated by religious order), No to foreign military intervention.
8:53 Rape is being used a weapon to suppress people. Men and women alike have been raped, especially in prisons. The military will also kill donkeys and other assets used for transportation and agriculture to take away power from the people. They try to separate people using sectarian tactics that pit groups against each other, such as burning Qurans and destroying churches.
9:00 Electronic warfare is being used as well. A network of pro-regime hackers seek to silence anyone who speaks out against Assad rule, including Columbia’s Facebook page. Of course, the resistance has their own hackers too. However, about half of Assad’s hackers are prisoners of war being forced to work on threat of death.
9:04 Bashar cannot stop or step down. He’s only one part of the “mafia” that rules Syria and the organization will not let him leave since it threatens the power of all of them.
9:07 An industry of murder is growing in Syria. Regime thugs are paid by the number of resistance people they kill. But then the resistance pays for any video footage taken of Assad regime violence, so these thugs can collect two paychecks by recording the violence they cause and then selling it off.
9:16 There are a lot of bigger players who want to see Assad remain in power. Russia has been a key ally of the Syrian regime for years since it’s Russia’s key alley in the Middle East. Russia sells Syria its weapons and Russia’s one military base in the Middle East is located in Syria.
9:19 Turkey has supported the revolution, allowing refugees to come in and political opposition to build. But Turkey gets its oil from Russia and Iran (Syria has no rich oil reserves), which limits the extent in which it can lend a hand to its neighbor.
9:23 For the United States and NATO this has been the revolution that “just won’t go away.” The US “has been wishy washy,” not wanting to get caught up into it. While some media has been covering the story, the west seems to have no appetite to confront this issue and tackle its political complexities.
9:27 Syrians have started asking the west to just remotely attack Assad’s forces, saying that with a little effort they will crumble. However , doing that would mean coming into opposition with Russia. That’s especially unsavory in the US’s election year.
9:32 In the last few months Assad’s forces have been taking revenge on the opposition, throwing everything they have at them in hopes that the rebellion will collapse. There has supposedly been a ceasefire but the death toll continues to rise. Things look bleak.
9:35 The Syrian people can only move forward. No longer will they whisper political dissonance out of earshot of the media. Syrians want to speak out and be heard. It’s a fundamental political shift, and ultimately the Syrian regime can’t afford to brutalize its own people forever. “It’s been an awe inspiring 14 months, just the amount of humanity’s courage…and the revolution will ultimately succeed.”
Thanks again to our panelists, Mohamed T. Khairullah and Sarab Al-Jijakli, for coming and speaking to the Columbia Political Union!