Massacro nella Ghuta. Il racconto di Razan Zeitune

Razan ZeitungRazan Zeitune (foto) non gode della fama che meriterebbe né in Europa né in Nordamerica. Quindi nemmeno Italia.

Eppure questa giovane avvocato siriana, da anni impegnata nella difesa dei diritti umani, non è fuggita all’estero, non ha gonfiato le liste dei dissidenti in esilio che hanno aderito a quel consiglio o a quella piattaforma di una sedicente opposizione incapace di andare oltre la retorica.

Razan Zeitune è rimasta a lavorare per monitorare le violazioni commesse in Siria. Ha 36 anni. Il marito è stato arrestato nel 2011, all’inizio della repressione. Lei è rimasta in clandestinità. Nella Ghuta, la regione a est e a sud di Damasco da più di un anno roccaforte della ribellione anti-Asad.

E dal suo privilegiato – ma rischiosissimo –  punto di osservazione è stata una testimone unica del massacro compiuto contro centinaia di civili con ancora non meglio precisate sostanze tossiche nella notte tra il 20 e il 21 agosto scorsi in alcune zone della Ghuta stessa (si veda il rapporto dettagliato del Centro di documentazione delle violazioni in Siria, Vdc).

E’ una testimone unica perché conosce,  meglio di molti altri attivisti locali, come documentare le violazioni, come segnalarle all’estero, come raccontarle. Anche per questo nel 2011 è stata insignita del premio Sakharov e del premio Politkovskaya, l’anno successivo le è stato conferito il premio Ibn Rushd (Averroè) per la libertà di pensiero e quest’anno il premio Women of Courage.

Qui di seguito il racconto, tradotto in inglese dall’arabo dal portale libanese NowLebanon e pubblicato il 23 agosto 2013, di Razan Zeitune su quanto da lei visto subito dopo il massacro della Ghuta.

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.”

The same stories and images are repeated across each medical outpost in Ghouta towns, which welcomes those martyred and wounded. Medics, the majority of whom have been affected by the poisonous gases, tell over and over again how they yanked doors open and entered houses where they found children sleeping quietly and peacefully in their beds. A few reached medical outposts and benefited from first aid. But the most pressing image is that of whole families dead: a father, a mother, and all of their children who were taken from their beds straight to mass graves. 

A father is standing by a seemingly endless long grave in Zamalka, where his wife and child are buried by the side of numerous other families. I thought he must be secretly envying the families whose members all went to these narrow graves, leaving behind no one to feel the pangs of loss.

Clashes are still heavy and near, but no one cares. Everyone is busy digging and sprinkling dirt over loved ones. One person overseeing the burial operation explains how 140 bodies are put side-by-side in this little grave. 

Take pictures, he says, before listing the names of whole families buried here and there. We wait as if we are supposed to meet the family, greet the parents, and play with the children; but all we see is some uneven dirt and a few twigs scattered randomly over it. 

Families flock to search for their children in hallways lined with bodies in each town. An old lady comes in, imploring those present to lead her to the bodies of her sons and brethren if they have been martyred. Young men help her to lift covers off the faces of unknown martyrs waiting for someone to identify them. She goes from one face to another, gasping at one point when mistakenly seeing a face she thought she knew. The search ends and she starts praising Allah in her quavering voice as the odds of one of her loved ones being dead is now smaller after inspecting one medical outpost. 

In most cases, families were scattered over medical outposts throughout Ghouta. Those who were treated and regained their strength begin the journey of looking for family members from one town to another. And for those people who did not find their loved ones in hallways lined with the wounded or martyred, or among the list of deceased that administrative staff managed to record, most could barely control their anger and sadness – often collapsing in tears as a result.  This article is a translation of the original Arabic