Between Militarization and Activism: The Story of One Syrian Man

08 April 2014

The afforestation campaign, organized in the town of Maarrat Misrin, to commemorate the revolution’s third anniversary saw a moment of unity between the young nonviolent activist behind the campaign and the fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) stationed in the town. Hand in hand, the two groups, despite their many differences, worked to plant trees and bring new life to a land devastated by war.

Such symbolic gestures only give more credence to the complex and interrelated world and history of the Syria revolution, over the monotone and simplistic dichotomy of the pacifist vs. violent uprising. SyriaUntold brought many questions to Hassan Doush, one of the FSA fighters who took part in the event, in an attempt to shed more light on the dynamic relationship between the pacifist and militaristic elements in the revolution.

Doush, originally from Idlib, admits that when the revolution began in 2011 he didn’t have the courage to “even leave the house.” When the 22-year old received the first invitations for the “day of anger”, he did not participate out of fear. Doush was not convinced that Syrians had the strength to take that first step, himself included, because of their long and heavy history of tyranny. It took only days for him to find out how wrong he had been.

By the time the demonstrations spread around the country and reached the University of Aleppo, where he was studying French Literature, Doush’s hesitation had completely evaporated. His first demonstration came in mid-April 2011 and was organized in the dormitories of the university. “I felt a strength in me that I had never seen,” Doush recounts of that day.

The demonstration ended with the arrest of tens of students from the university, but not before doing away with any remnants of fear in Doush’s mind. He started participating in all the demonstrations in Aleppo while he was there. On weekends, he would leave back to Idlib to be with his parents, and to participate in the demonstrations there. Doush’s activism however, quickly led to his name being put on the regime’s wanted lists, and he soon dropped his studies and went underground in his hometown.

“On one demonstration in Idlib, the man next to me, Muhammad Sayyed Issa, was shot and killed. He was the first victim in Idlib, and my clothes were washed with his blood. On that day I felt all fear in my heart died,” recounts Doush, “and that was when I decided to buy a gun.”

صورة للناشط حسان دوش اثناء حملة للسلاح ... المصدر : خاص سيريا ان تولد

In September 2011, and without the knowledge of even his friends and family, Hassan bought his first rifle. He didn’t use it until the regime’s army entered Idlib on March 10, 2012. “On that day, we fought desperately until we ran out of ammunition, and we had to retreat to the outskirts of town,” says Doush.

Nevertheless, Doush was never able to extricate himself completely of civil activism: “I was never able to just become a fighter, I had to continue my activism in both the fields of media and documentation. It is like breathing air to me.”

When asked whether he regrets carrying arms, Douche answers emphatically: “I will never regret a single thing I did, because I believe that my aims were true, and I will sacrifice my life for that cause.” That cause to him is the Syria of the future: “This is more than just words. Syria is a land, a people and a state. We have given everything we have for her and we shall continue till the end, and we shall rebuild it however much the cost may be. Syria is dear, very dear.”

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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad