The Free Students of Salamiyeh

12 February 2016

At the end of 2011, six students from different high schools began to meet and debate. They created a new organization, the Free Students of Salamiyeh, the purpose of which is to organize student affairs and develop revolutionary activities. According to the student Ahmed, the group was responsible for organizing several student demonstrations.

According to various testimonies, the group was responsible for many of the events and activities in the town. The student movement’s activists put the flags of the revolution in various public areas. For example, they flew the revolution flag over the national hospital in the city, and they changed the flags at schools in the city to the flags of the revolution. They also distributed various flyers with anti-Assad slogans on them at the schools and in the streets of the city.

Others in the movement graffitied and spraypainted slogans on the walls of the city. They also contributed documented the violations that they faced at the hands of the shabiha, according to the testimony of activist A. H., a college student who was arrested and fled Syria shortly after his release.

The activities of the free students were extremely varied, reflected in the movement’s diverse body made up of men and women of diverse backgrounds. In addition to the aforementioned activities, they also participated in relief work providing aid to the displaced people in the city and coordinating with the Local Coordination Committees. They in particular cared for the affairs of the displaced students, aiding them in obtaining the necessary paperwork in order to continue their studies.

The students of Salamiyeh formed strong relationships with the displaced students, which allowed for the movement to spread to Hama. In Hama, they provided aid to the displaced people and aided the displaced students in obtaining the required paperwork in order to continue their studies. They built strong relationships with the displaced students, which allowed the Free Student movement to connect and collaborate with the Federation of Free Students in Hama.

The Free Students of Salamiyeh movement inspired many young people at the prime of their life. According to Ahmad, one of the founding members, the revolutionary student body was extremely inspiring to the young students. “We presented a positive image of the youth through our presence in the streets. Our interest in public affairs and our desire for freedom and dignity was apparent. Many times during the demonstrations, we would be out in the streets and loyalists and neutrals would be standing by, watching. When the security forces would come and attack us, they would sympathize with us and some even changed their positions due to the repression and arrests that they witnessed during our peaceful protests.”

These brave young activists suffered greatly from harassment and repression at the hands of the security forces and Shabiha. They were subjected to pressure from their schools, at the hands of their teachers and the administrations which threatened them with expulsion. Many were prevented from pursuing their educations at state schools. Because of the repression, the Free Students of Salamiyeh were unable to continue working past 2013.


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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad