A Syrian activist living in the UK spoke to Ed Maltby
Organisation began in March when the regime kidnapped some children in Daa’ra and refused to release them.
That ignited lots of anger in Daa’ra, and that spirit went over the whole country. People responded in Damascus and all over the country, out of solidarity.
But there are no real organizations, just normal people going out to express their anger. There is no ideology, people just want to revolt against the regime and the things it is doing.
Every week, a focus or a slogan is decided over the internet. International media is not allowed into Syria, and communications are controlled so people cannot contact each other. So people have to talk to each other over twitter and Facebook.
The revolution demands the removal of the President who has killed and tortured so many people.
People test the mood of the movement and agree a common slogan every week: “Challenge” has been one; “Anger” has been another.
Oppression has been going on for decades —low pay, high unemployment, the highest in the world, so the government didn’t have to care about retirement policies, or workers’ safety in the factories, or minimum wage. There are children under 15 years old working full-time in factories. They don’t go to school, because they need to support their families. The situation is so miserable under Ba’th Party rule. Workers joined the people in the revolution because they share the same suffering.
There have been calls for strikes in many cities. There were strikes in Daa’ra, in Homs, in Hama, in some suburbs of Damascus. But the government won’t let strikes take place in Damascus or Aleppo. If you don’t show up to work they will come to your house and take your wife, husband, brother sister.
There are strikes in textiles, factories, the service sector, the banking sector.
In Syria the trade unions are controlled by the government, and do not act independently. They have been infiltrated by the security services. They have lists of all the members, and they pass workers’ details to the security services. So these strikes have just been normal workers taking action.
We wanted diplomatic pressure and political pressure, but we don’t want military pressure at this moment in time. People are asking for the imposition of protection, of a no-fly zone. We have defected officers who can fight this regime, but they can’t act because we know the regime can attack from the air.
Some people are asking for international intervention because what is happening in Syria is a crime against humanity. Syria is a member of the United Nations and the UN should help set Syria and its people free.
On the NATO intervention in Libya — the people of Libya needed help. The people of Syria need help now. So what solution the left had in opposing NATO intervention, I don’t know. If you oppose something, you need to provide a different solution to help the people who need help, who are suffering.
We went to the Lib Dem conference, the Labour conference and we will go to the Conservative conference, to let members of these parties know what is happening. We are printing leaflets with statistics of the massacres, detentions and arrests.
We really need people to put pressure on the UK government to have a new stance about what’s going on in Syria. Britain is supposed to promote human rights and women’s rights — but why not in Syria? Time means lives now. Every hour someone is killed and every half an hour someone is being arrested and detained. We need real support.
I don’t know why the Syrian embassy is still allowed to be London still, and I don’t know what the UK ambassador is doing in Syria. Why isn’t he putting on more pressure?