Message from a man in Hama, August 2011
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Message from a man in Hama, August 2011

Protesters carry giant Syrian flag in al-Assi Square in Hama on 22 July 201. (AP)
Orient Net - Syrian Archives
Date: 2016-01-13 15:53
When the revolution began in March 2011, it was not a premeditated occurrence. 

Sure there were those who hoped and dreamed that such a thing would happen as they watched the uprisings in other Arab countries during what came to be known as the “Arab Spring,” but everyone who had ever lived in Syria knew that the Assad regime had zero tolerance for such things. 

After all, the current Assad’s "daddy" had leveled a good portion of the city of Hama and killed tens of thousands of innocent people in the 80s in order to rid Syria of a group of political dissidents who were growing in popularity. Many of those who joined the revolution in 2011 had become orphans during that massacre.

But when that first small group of men hit the streets of Daraa after Friday prayer on March 18, 2011 to protest the detention and torture of neighborhood children, they had no plans for sparking a revolution of monumental proportions let alone taking up arms. 

But planned or not, they provided the spark that ignited a fire under a multitude of Syrians who had held their tongues about the shadow of oppression and corruption they had been living under for 40+ years. 

Assad claimed from the beginning that he was fighting armed terrorists but his lie was simply an attempt to justify the gunning down of unarmed civilians. When the assassins failed to stop the protests that were sweeping across Syria, regime forces began raiding homes and terrorizing citizens. Men were brutally beaten in front of their families and hauled off to detention centers while women were raped in front of their husbands and fathers as a form of punishment. No one was safe from the regime in the cities and towns that had finally found their voices after decades of silence in the face of arrogance, corruption and brutality.

On June 3, more than 70 people were killed in the city of Hama after three trucks with large guns opened fire on protesters returning from Friday prayers.The front row of men, bearing their chests and shouting "peacefully, peacefully!" to show they were unarmed, were felled and more followed. Assad ordered tanks to surround the city to put an end to the demonstrations that continued to grow in spite of the steadily increasing number of martyrs.

On July 22, nearly half a million people marched through the streets of Hama to al-Assi Square calling for the downfall of the regime as its tanks sat outside the city limits waiting for further orders. 

Nine days later, the order to attack was given. In what came to be known as the “Ramadan Massacre” tanks and soldiers and security forces advanced on the unarmed city. Those manning the city’s checkpoints tried to defend themselves with stones and bars but they were no match for tanks and gunfire.

On August 2, two days after the siege began, we received this anonymous Facebook message from inside Syria:

“A message from a free (man) inside the city of Hama,
We hear the sound of an artillery shell, look to the roof of the room and say, ‘Will this shell fall on the roof of our room or the next room?’
My 7 years old daughter holds me and pushes her head into my chest, hoping to enter it to feel safe.
I look to my wife and imagine that if they stormed my house, what will they do to her?
I wonder, will they shoot me in front of my daughter and son, and they see the death of who used to protect them?
I’m thinking a lot now --- should I buy a weapon to prevent them from storming my home? Should I prepare the gas jar to explode it before they reach my wife?
The toughest thing in life --- to be innocent, to know you are innocent, and to fear very much!
The toughest thing in life --- not being able to do anything against these possibilities.
Oh human wherever you are --- what if it were you? What if it was your daughter? What if it was your wife?
Is there a human on Earth left to see this call from a man in Hama just like other men in Hama?
These are not a writer’s imaginative thoughts or a poet’s emotions --- this is the truth.”

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