So That We Don't Forget campaign

05 June 2013

On April 24, 2012, several grassroots groups in Aleppo launched a campaign called So That We Don’t Forget.

In response to the brutal arrests the Syrian regime has been carrying out, the activity aimed to cast light on the issue of the detainees and demand their release. It meant to build pressure on the regime by exposing its actions at a national and international level.

Activist Wael Salqini, who played a prominent role in the campaign, said, “We want to alleviate the suffering of the detainees’ relatives, show them that we stand in solidarity with them and that will never forget the pain and tears shed by the mothers of detainees.”

At the time it was launched, the campaign made use of the parliamentary electoral campaign to remind the Syrian people of the detainees. The activists printed photos of the detainees and martyrs, depicting them as candidates for parliament and hanging their pictures on the city walls.

As to how the idea was born, Salqini told Syria Untold, “How can I give my vote to the thug Shaban Berry, while I know that Dr. Mohammad Arab is in jail? What is this paradox? Parliamentary elections organized by the regime are a complete farce.”

“Choose Your Detainee Candidate,” and “Choose Your Martyr Candidate” were part of the campaign in reaction to the regime's rigged polls.

As part of the effort, a number of young people launched campaigns that included painting graffiti for the detainees and martyrs in many Syrian districts, like Bustan al-Qasr, Al-Ashrafiya, Sheikh Maqsud, Salaheddin and more.  

The activity included brief videos filmed within the same context and with the same goals. Four videos shed light on some detainees who had imprisoned for a long time, such as university student Nour Hallaq, Dr. Mohammad Arab, Jalal Noufal (who is now out of jail), scenarist Adnan Zraei, Ali Othman, and female detainees such as Razan Ghazzawi and Salama Keila, who are both no longer incarcerated.

Salqini commented on the outcome of the campaign. “We strived to mobilize the popular opinion to cast light on the suffering of these detainees to pressure the regime,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we found that all our attempts went nowhere because the regime did not give in to our pressures, as if we were tilting at windmills like Don Quixote.”

He still viewed the experience as useful, saying that those were great days full of vitality and hard work. “It is sufficient for me to have seen love in the eyes of the participants, which forms the bedrock for any upcoming action.”

Speaking about the future of these activities and the efforts of activists who stood behind this campaign, Wael said, “We now see that we are fighting a war where there is no room to move against the regime that showed its true color. But we still believe that it is civil action that builds democracy and makes us feel free. We can revive these kinds of initiatives in the face of those who militarize the revolution, ‘so that we don´t forget’ the principles and stands of our revolution.”

Wael concluded by saying, “We will not forget that our revolution started peacefully, with the aim of achieving democracy and justice in our beloved country, Syria. We will do this again."


This work is under a Creative Commons license. Attribution: Non commercial - ShareAlike 4.0. International license

Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad