From the May-June 2014 issue of News & Letters:
Third anniversary of the Syrian Revolution
Washington, D.C.—Two busloads of people from Chicago joined thousands gathered here on March 15 to mark the third anniversary of the Syrian Revolution. Spirits were high, with the singing of revolutionary songs, much discussion and little sleep.
This was part of a week of commemoration in D.C. and around the world. From March 12 to March 15, across from the White House, volunteers had continuously read out the names of the over 100,000 dead as an “oral memorial.” “How many more?” we asked.
The main demonstration was held in Lafayette Park. Demonstrators marched there with chants like “There is only one solution! Revolution! Revolution!” After three years, that’s the reality. Not because it makes a good slogan, but because it’s what Syrians have lived.
Here were people who have given their lives for freedom. Many have put their schooling, jobs and families on hold. Others who came to D.C. from Syria have risked everything: Qusai Zakarya, Raed Fares, Ameenah Sawwan, and other heroes and witnesses.
A highlight, for me, was the moment when activists from Russia, China and Iran—whose governments are Assad’s main supporters—took the stage, along with a Ukrainian activist, to express the solidarity that the people of those countries have with the Syrian Revolution.
The world’s silence and inaction have been maddening, but it is also a little misleading. Millions of people, around the world, are watching and thinking about events in Syria. The unprecedented way Assad has been allowed to destroy the country’s major cities and commit genocide against the people, creating the century’s largest refugee crisis—no one can imagine that their own future isn’t implicated in this.
There were many young people in the crowd, and I had a moment of shock in realizing that I have watched some of them grow up in these three years of revolutionary activism. If time is the space for human development, how very precious a gift it has been to see the world through their eyes, to grasp that this world needs to change at its root. Both a gift, and a tremendous responsibility toward the future.
—Syrian Revolution supporter