Syria’s opposition, divided on many fronts, was united this week in mourning. Wissam Sara, the son of prominent opposition figure Fayez Sara, was killed under torture in the dungeons of the Assad regime.
“After all that befell us, and our people - between murder, destruction and exile - today we were told that our son Wissam was killed under torture in the Military Security Branch in Damascus, two months after his arrest. Wissam, a 27-year old father of two, joins a long list of Syrian martyrs.” Thus announced Wissam’s griefing father on his Facebook page. The news, fueled by the recent revelations of the thousands of victims meticulously murdered in Assad’s jails, soon went viral, and was shared by scores of angry Syrians of different media.
The condolences came in from all figures of the Syrian opposition, many of whom had shared prison cells with the father. Riad Darar, a member of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) wrote: “Dear Fayez: your steadfastness is of most importance to our cause, and the life of Wissam will serve as yet another beacon for the revolution.”
The head of the NCC in exile Haytham Manna said: “There is no greater pain than that of losing another youthful son in the struggle for democracy and against tyranny. The price of freedom is great, but the painful tears will remain in our eyes and in our hearts. We will never let go of our right to resist death, violence and oppression. Because our fight is one for life and dignity, each death is like losing a part of our soul. And today, all Syrian families have lost a candle. I wish you, and our greater Syrian family, peace and fortitude.”
Rima Fleihan, a member of the Syrian National Coalition, also offered her condolences: “I try to escape from looking our dear Wissam in the eyes. His eyes question the world: is it not time for this killing to stop? is it not time for this oppression to stop? is it not time for these jails to be closed? and is it not time for this tyrant to leave?”
Walid al-Bunni called on the opposition to leave the Geneva conference and refuse to negotiate with the regime, so long as detainees are being murdered in its dungeons: “Barrels falling on civilian neighborhoods, detainees murdered under torture - and Wissam is only the last of these heros.”
Al-Bunni then asks: “How could it be possible for those who murder in such cold blood in Syria, to become partners in peace in Geneva? Is there greater humiliation than having to ask the murderer for the killing to stop before entering negotiations about our and their future? This must become a deafening voice in the face of those dragging us to the negotiations table. Do not negotiate before the killing is stopped, those detained are released, and those besieged are set free.”
Syrian artists were also present to express their own pain and solidarity. Sculptor Assem al-Basha said: “I don’t know Fayez Sara personally, but I know what it means to lose someone. We will remember Wissam, as well as all of those whose names weren’t published; all of those who died for us.”
Iyad Sharbaji praised the noble fortitude of the father saying: “In my many years of knowing Fayez Sara, he had never mentioned the fact that his son was participating in demonstrations or that his family were paying such a hefty price. I think he believed that to be only natural, and not even worthy of mention. I say this to those who often mocked his insistence on nonviolence, only to be rewarded by the regime by murdering his son under torture.”
The killing of Wissam Sara also brought to the fore the debate about nonviolence and militarization highlighted by Syrian artist Samih Shuqair: “Let those who still refuse to believe hear this: nonviolent activists are what the regime considers its real enemies. They are the ones it goes after, killing and torturing them in the thousands. The terrorists, are but an excuse and everyday we find new evidence on their connections to the regime. The terrorists are the regime’s prophecy and its own creation.”
Shuqair continues: “Just hours ago another nonviolent activist, Wissam Sara, was murdered under torture. He’s not the last of them, for while writing these words there are probably countless others being murdered. To those who still support this regime I can offer nothing but sorrow, for they will find out what happened eventually, but after the fact, and their pains will not bring back the thousands of wonderful Syrians who had died.”
The tragic murder under torture of Wissam, a Christian himself, also comes to uncover another fig leaf often peddled by the regime portraying itself as the “protector of the minorities.” Kinan Koja writes: “Fayez Sara might be one of the few Syrians who, after three years of the revolution, still doesn’t identify himself with his religious background, but rather as Syrian. There’s no fitting condolences for your loss dear Fayez, except the freedom Wissam died for.”
Finally, Khodr al-Agha reflects on the world’s responsibility for the continuous murder: “When the family of the victim is forced to sign a paper stating that their son was killed by ‘terrorist gangs’, and the world keeps silent, then that’s enough reason to disown this world. World, there’s a personal vendetta between me and you.”