Worldwide Solidarity With the Syrian Uprising

22 June 2013

Syrian and international activists marked March 31, 2013 as the "Global Day of Solidarity With the Syrian Revolution." People in more than 40 countries gathered in support of the revolution, which is now in its third year. They held demonstrations, sit-ins, hunger strikes and educational activities with the attendance of renowned intellectuals.

The idea for the solidarity campaign was born at the World Social Forum meeting in Tunis last April. Participants discussed ways in which they could support the Syrian uprising, affirm "the Syrian people's right to defend themselves against tyranny and dictatorship," and "re-establish the Syrian revolution in the broader context of the struggle against oppression and authoritarianism."

Among the countries that participated in the campaign are Turkey, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, Finland, Canada, France, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the United States, Brazil, Costa Rica, Peru and Argentina. Various types of activities were held in solidarity with the Syrian people, including sit-ins, seminars, creative forums and candlelight vigils. If nothing else, the campaign reaffirmed the fact that it is human nature to stand against oppression, regardless of language. This worldwide solidarity with Syria is just a small example. 

The organizers of the campaign created a petition, which was signed by intellectuals, academicians, artists and activists from more than 30 countries, hoping to remind the world that the Syrian struggle is that of a people fighting for their freedom and dignity. The petition was accompanied by an invitation to join the Global Day of Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution, asking "various groups in cities across the globe to organize protests, educational events and other symbolic gestures in public squares and in front of Syrian embassies, in addition to online activities." The organizers also created a Facebook page dedicated to organizing the events, communicating with activists, and distributing work among those involved. 

The ultimate goal of the campaign was to place the Syrian uprising on the general public's radars. It succeeded partially in shedding light on the fact that Syrians are revolting against an oppressive regime. However, attendance was low at some events, and people in some countries did not respond to the organizers' calls for action. 

In Palestine, activists gathered in the town of Al-Thahreya, which is south of the city of Khalil in Ramallah, near Martyr Yasser Arafat Roundabout. In the occupied Golan Heights, a group known as Sada (Echo) staged a sit-in in Martyrs' Square

The Beirut branch of the Union of Free Syrian Students held a sit-in in front of the National Museum in Al-Mathaf area. One of the activists who attended told us, "The level of participation was not very high, but that was expected considering the security situation in Beirut." He thought the campaign "did not fully realize its goals," though he considered it to be "a step toward delivering the message of the Syrian struggle to countries and people unaware of what is going on. It served as clarification that what is happening is a revolution for freedom and dignity, and not a civil war." He added that the campaign was "a type of challenge against Hezbollah and supporters of the Syrian regime." 

 Events in the city of Cairo were below expectations. According to one activist, Cairo's participation in the campaign was a failure. "There was no true Syrian representation," she said. I arrived thirty minutes after the protest was set to begin. There were four Syrians, and five or six Egyptians." Attendance in the Egyptian city of Suez was higher than in Cairo, with activists holding a banner that read, "Our road is long, but we will arrive."

The activist, who refused to reveal her name, said she participated despite her misgivings. "I lost much hope in protests outside Syria," she said. "But I decided to attended the protest for two main reasons: I wanted to get a better idea of Syrian revolutionary activities in Egypt, as the day of the protest was my first day in Egypt, and I wanted to take some photos of the demonstration."

One activist inside Syria, a member of the Syrian Revolutionary Youth group, commented on the campaign. "We held a number of different activities globally. But here in Damascus, we are still at the heart of the movements. We are defending our demands and the demands of the Syrian people, starting with the downfall of the regime and all figures associated with it. We will continue resisting for the sake of freedom, until we building a country for all Syrians." His statement reflected the approval of people inside Syria on the global campaign, despite its limited effectiveness. 

Spain-based Syrian activist Leila Nachawati attended the event in Madrid. "About 200 people gathered to watch the film 'The Grapes of My Country,' and 'Yarmouk Camp.' We reached out to activists in Damascus and Yarmouk via Skype, and also spoke to Santiago Alba, who is a Spanish intellectual who has followed movements in the Middle East and North Africa since their onset." 

As for the reason she attended the event, Nachawati said, "I believe that now, more than ever, Syrians are in need of people standing in solidarity with them."

Nachawati relayed one of the messages Alba gave to the attendees through their Skype call. "A large group of leftists across the globe have turned their back on Syrians, claiming that the Syrian struggle is 'very complicated.' It is true that it is complicated, but the fact that some people are trying to take advantage of its complexity does not make Syrians' demands for freedom and justice any less legitimate. And this is why 200 people have gathered in Madrid, to show our solidarity with the Syrian people, who are in dire need of our support."

The participation of writers and intellectuals such as Alba in various countries helped accomplish one of the most crucial goals of the campaign, which was drawing attention to the Syrian people who are facing off against the most ruthless regime in the region. The campaign tried to appeal to the global conscience, since the conscience of international governments and organizations has already failed the Syrian people. 



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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad