In order to activate the civil society movement and peaceful resistance in the city of Aleppo, a team of youth founded the Checkmate group in January 2012.
The group's main goal is to spread the concept of nonviolence. Their first project was to document the most relevant events of the uprising in 2011, through what they called “Freedom Calendar.” Attached to each month is a famous freedom quote, by renowned Syrian poets and intellectuals such as Nizar Qabbani, Saad Allah Wannus, Mohammad al-Maghout. One of such quotes reads: “These regimes have shrunk the laws and constitutions to guarantee their stability and interest. And still, they will take any opportunity to side-step and violate the law, taking pleasure in their own power”.
Checkmate has also launched and participated in several campaigns, such as Eulogy For Fear, and Don’t Try to Promote I Won’t Vote, which was a response to the regime’s proposal for a constitutional referendum while its tanks and armed forces were killing civilians. The group also boycotted parliamentary elections, and took part in demonstrations and campaigns such as My Country, I Dream..
Among its grassroots activities were a festival for children in the neighborhood of Bustan al-Qasr, several cleaning campaigns, a new school named Martyr Mustafa Qurman, and psychological support for children under distress, in addition to distributing leaflets, participating in strikes and organizing demonstrations with other groups.
The group works in collaboration with other groups, such as the Days Of Freedom, Pulse, Free Youth of Bustan al-Qasr, Salah al-Din Rebels and Grandchildren of Kawakbi, and took part in campaigns such as A Human’s Revolution For Life and Loaf Of Bread, among several other projects.
Due to the increasingly dramatic situation civilians face in the country, many of the group’s activists have turned to humanitarian aid, while others have been forced to leave the country. Despite the pain caused by the loss of members of the group, Checkmate remains hopeful and optimistic. “Seeing the kids' reaction during actvities like the children festival makes it all worth it. We also laugh a lot while we work."
Checkmate activists aim to keep working after the fall of the regime, focusing on grassroots projects, while they finally take in the freedom they have pursued for so long.
Find out more about Checkmate group on their Facebook site.