Siria, le donne della rivoluzione

Rima Fleihan (foto) è una siriana qualunque. Che per il suo impegno a fianco di dissidenti e attivisti che chiedono la fine del regime degli al Asad è ricercata dalle autorità del suo Paese e vive all’estero.

Nei giorni scorsi è intervenuta di fronte al Parlamento europeo a Strasburgo. Qui di seguito il testo in inglese del suo discorso.

[…] On March 15, 2011, Syrians came out in Damascus, like the sun, to shout, “The Syrian people will not be humiliated!” after they had nearly drowned in the darkness of the silence imposed upon them by the 40-year-old kingdom, first with Assad the elder and then his son.

In my country, a revolution for dignity started…a revolution for freedom…but most of all, a revolution for humanity.

The Syrian Revolution is not just about the Syrian people. Not at all. The success of the Revolution will be a success for humanity and proof of the power of the people over everything else; and that peaceful resistance can overcome violence and repression and daily killing.

Because this Revolution is one of freedom, equality, and justice, Syrian women have participated side-by-side with men. The Syrian woman is sometimes the protester, sometimes the leader, and sometimes the coordinator. Other times, she participates in the media, or is a human rights expert, or a doctor, nurse, writer, artist, or politician. Most importantly, she is a mother.

In her heart, the mother always accompanies her children as they march along the path to freedom, hoping that they return, alive, from my country’s streets of life and death.

Because every time a protest starts in my country, it could mean arrest or death…With this in mind, today, in my country, the mothers who do not go out in protest push their children to do so, because patriotism and dignity trump everything.

The mothers in my country hide the sons of other mothers, as if they were their own. They risk their own children’s detention, rather than risk those hiding in the back rooms of homes when security operatives conduct raids searching for escaped demonstrators.

In my country, Umm Ahmad, an 80-year-old woman, goes out to shout at the Shabiha thugs, waving them back with her walking stick to protect the youth activists protesting for freedom.

In my country, we share our children and our mothers, because we are united for freedom and we are united in that which blossomed in the Arab Spring.

During the demonstrations, mothers, sons, brothers, sisters – single people, married people – all share the same feeling, at the very same moment.

We also share the pain in the basements of security branches and torture chambers. We share death, and take bullets for each other.

The Syrian woman has participated since the very first day of this Revolution, during which so many names have become famous, including that of my dear friend Razan Zaitouneh, co-founder of the Local Coordination Committees in Syria (LCC), who has received many international awards for her work in the legal and media fields. 

She is still in Syria, despite the danger. She continues the struggle for freedom through the LCC, in addition to silently documenting the Syrian regime’s human rights violations under threat of detention, and what could follow, at any given moment.

Moreover, names like Samar Yazbek, May Skaf, Suhair Atassi, Khawla Dunya, Fadwa Soleiman, and many others who I have not mentioned. Some I have met, and so many I have not – by they are all revolutionaries and activists who have given, and who are still sacrificing for this Revolution.

A few days in my country, a group of young women stood in front of the Syrian Parliament and many public places, carrying banners that read, “Stop the Killing…We Want to Build a Country for All Syrians.” The result was their detention, including young Rima Al-Dali, who stood in front of the Parliament.

This is our Revolution…a civilian youth movement that dreams of a country for all Syrians. This is our crime: trying to achieve the dream of democracy. We are paying for that dream with our lives, in detention, through torture, destruction of our homes, and the displacement of so many of us from our homes and country.

The facts convey the truth. The following are some of the LCC-documented statistics:

Number of Female Children Martyred: 377

Number of Women Martyred: 208

There have been also thousands of detentions of women and young girls. There are thousands of female refugees everywhere. Women and children have been raped by security agents and Shabiha in several revolutionary areas.

As women who have given so much during the Revolution, we will make sure of a future in which we enjoy full equality to men. We will demand the implementation of the CEDAW Convention without reservation, and we will seek to ensure that Family Law assures equality among men’s, women’s, and children’s rights, in line with all relevant international agreements. We are eager to create an environment that nurtures active civil society by demanding laws that facilitate the creation of civil society organizations, which will work in this field as well as those of Law and Human Rights.

For years, the Syrian woman has suffered a lack of equal rights in law and society, and political and economic empowerment.

For a long time, we have struggled to amend articles in the Penal Code that are not equal for women and men. For instance, the Penal Code legitimizes honor crimes, and therefore the killing of women. In addition, we have been struggling continuously to amend the laws surrounding personal status and nationality, so that Syrian women might be granted equal opportunities to pass on Syrian citizenship to their children.

We have been working on changing labor laws and social taboos, where the regime’s corruption is a major contributing factor to the administration of laws that allow minors to drop out of school for marriage. Currently, domestic violence is not covered under any law; this has led to dropped charges and led many unprosecuted cases.

In addition to suppressing any association seeking to secure women’s rights, the regime abolished licensure for women’s associations and security forces prosecuted activists.

A close observation of the current state of other Arab Spring countries gives us some unease. However, we remain confident that democracy will allow us to make the civil movement more feasible to organize, and civil society organizations easier to establish. Further, the people who revolt and overthrow a dictatorship can rise again to take back their rights should they be trampled on by the new regime.

The international community continues to reiterate its commitment to women’s rights. I contend that Syria’s liberation from our tyrannical regime will allow us to more easily assure human rights. Our liberation will provide us activists with valuable tools that are otherwise unavailable under the repressive regime.

Looking forward positively, our future vision of equal rights for women is taking shape through the wonderful work of many activists – women and men. We are working toward several developmental, civil rights, and civil society projects.

Finally, in a country currently struggling for its freedom and paying for it with dear blood, we will not compromise, in the future, on any human rights violations. Our new homeland will treat all of its people solely on the basis of citizenship. Syria will care equally for all of its sons and daughters, regardless of their religion or ethnicity.

Freedom for Syria and thanks to all who stand with the Syrian people in their struggle for dignity and rebirth.

Thank you.