Below is an article by a Syrian journalist who has put light on the lives people of Syria are living in fear. Bashar al Asad like his father is a tyrant and he seems to be the modern version of Nazi leadership. People should raise their voices all over the world and support the freedom and justice loving people in any manner they can.
Confessions of an ‘agent’ in Syria–>DAWN News Article
by Maryam Hasan (Pen name)
Whether it’s a call on my phone or at the door, I feel scared to death. I mentally prepare myself for the worst, assuming that “they” are here to take me.
But then, when I find a friend at the door or a homeless compatriot asking for food, I realise that it is not my day yet, it is someone else’s.
Despite being unusually lucky, my nightmares don’t end. I rather prepare myself to deal with a situation when Bashar’s sleuths would come to pick me up for writing about the misery of Syrian taxpayers and democracy-lovers.
Regardless of our terrible conditions, we do greet each other daily with ‘sabah al-khair’ or good morning but with little hope for the same.
When I hear stories of torture and disfigured bodies of the missing Syrians and journalists alike, my only prayer to Allah remains, “I am ready for it but ease it on me and my people please.”
We write with pen names and log on the Internet using proxies, thinking we are safe. The reality is otherwise. My missing journalist friends and bloggers had no time to say bye to their loved ones inside the very home they were abducted from. Al-mokhabarat or intelligence agents, just plucked them away, mostly in the dark of the night.
They may discover me sooner or later but I make it a point to erase all my cell phone logs of call and text messages, clear my browser history and empty my laptop’s trash bin. Thinking that I might have forgotten something, sometimes I repeat the act many times a night.
Of late, my personal fear of being kidnapped by government sleuths has been overshadowed by a big, bloodier development. Every day, I see uploaded YouTube videos of the best of Soviet and Russian arsenal knocking down bustling neighborhoods first in Dara’a, then Hama and now Homs.
While I still fear the footsteps of sleuths on my door, I am not being searched as minutely as before.
Instead of looking out for activists and undercover journalists, Bashar’s military is wiping out entire cities from world maps, over suspicions of treason against the Alawite regime.
What started as massacre has duly transformed into genocide. My editors abroad insist on sending my stories with real names, concrete evidence and versions from both sides. I have been in double jeopardy since the first eight months of the uprising when the world only knew about Tahrir square kind of protests.
I, sometimes, wonder if the top-notch media watchdog bodies really know what a faceless and nameless journalist in Syria goes through, at the hands of sleuths as well as the very editors known as gatekeepers.
When making a phone call can risk not only yours and your families’ lives but also the person answering the phone, calling a government source is simply suicidal. Even the most naïve journalist here knows that cellular and landline phone companies are not only owned by the regime’s front-men but also bugged and monitored.
Simultaneously, Syria is a busy place for journalists where one cannot choose which story angle to focus on any given day i.e. massacres in Homs, protests in Damascus and Idlib, Russian FM’s visit to Bashar, or statements from Washington echoing only fake promises.
But in the end the choice won’t be mine! The media company decides which one suits its agenda and its geopolitical context. Mostly, the easy bet is to bank on the wire service, ignoring the at-risk on-ground journalist who for them is a mere ‘stringer’!
I felt proud of my profession when I first saw stories by foreign journalists covering Syria from their high risk abodes and makeshift media centers. Though the world would not have believed a Syrian journalist like me for the Bab Amar massacre or siege of Homs but I hope they won’t ignore the outsiders’ testimony.
The natural but tragic death of Anthony Shadid, a Lebanon-born journalist for The New York Times, weighed very heavy on Syrian people’s hearts and the battered country’s image. Syria was referred to as home of death.
Besides dozens if not hundreds of slain Syrian journalists, the uprising has claimed two French media-men, and the one and only Marie Colvin died in more familiar way. Their heartrending deaths came in solidarity with local fellow professionals whose names and faces may be known when the tyrant falls and conscience rules in Syria.
Unluckily, I have many pen names for it is hard to write with a real one. Death of Marie Colvin was personally embarrassing to me. Should I still use pen names when my star colleagues are writing with their warm blood?
I am a single woman with no liabilities except a widowed mother and siblings. One simple story with my real name appearing on an Arabic language blog or English-language website has greater probability of leading sleuths to my home.
Now even my family rarely knows which pen name I use and where in the world, my work publishes. Not that I don’t trust my family but the regime’s four decades of fear can easily cause a Freudian slip.
A year ago, I proudly showed off my byline in international dailies but now we are writing for our lives and not for pride.
I rarely get internet access good enough to open my emails and send my stories in time. I must admit that overall depressing conditions too result in my missing deadlines. Ironically, stories featuring Syrians’ bloodbath are never stale and the desk accepts them more often.
When I work on my laptop, my siblings and mother spy on me to see what I am doing or writing. My eldest sister advised me last September, “I can’t stop a journalist from writing but she should not forget the fate her younger brothers may face if they (mokhabarat) find out.”
One of my university fellows was picked up for writing a blog about a missing seven-year-old in Dara’a. Her brother went to a police station to lodge a report but never returned home. Three weeks later, their mother was asked to receive her son’s body from the same police office. She not only got the body of her 20-year-old son but also discovered the disfigured corpse of her blogger daughter.
Earlier, I hoped to change the world’s opinion with my writings but now, I am only recording testimonies of massacres and detailing current history.
Long after they have taken me to die in their dark cells, my stories will serve as credible evidence to try Bashar and his advisors for crimes against humanity.
Like journalism, we are learning survival techniques on our own, the hard way. Whenever a couple of us sit together away from our parents and the listening walls, we talk about the best ways in dealing with the worst.
I usually tell my colleagues, “Why do you think they would wait for us to admit or defend ourselves. Our charge-sheets are already there with no room for defense or discussion . . . Agents we are! . . . Agents of change!”
Maryam Hasan is a young journalist, whose family struggled against Hafiz Al-Assad’s tyrannical rule and policies. She is using a pen-name due to security reasons.
This seems really pathetic. there is no room for these type of actions neither in constitution nor in Islam. forceful conversion is not allowed and directly against Quran. I think human rights organizations especially some of rich or political class hindu community member can raise the issue in high court or supreme court or even in Sharia Court as it is a direct violation of Islamic law as well. Only conversion allowed is voluntary conversion by heart. Also I believe Islamic organizations can help in this as it is a direct insult and misuse of Islam.
“Even after a year of `marriage’ I am not used to my new name. I was called Radha before,” she told IRIN on a rare occasion when she was allowed to go to the corner shop on her own to buy vegetables.
Ameena, or Radha as she still calls herself, was abducted from Karachi about 13 months ago by a group of young men who offered her ice-cream and a ride in their car. Before she knew what was happening, she was dragged into a larger van, and driven to an area she did not know.
She was then pressured into signing forms which she later found meant she was married to Ahmed Salim, 25; she was converted to a Muslim after being asked to recite some verses in front of a cleric. She was obliged to wear a veil. Seven months ago, Ameena, who has not seen her parents or three siblings since then and “misses them a lot”, moved with her new family to southern Punjab.
“The abduction and kidnapping of Hindu girls is becoming more and more common,” Amarnath Motumal, a lawyer and leader of Karachi’s Hindu community, told IRIN. “This trend has been growing over the past four or five years, and it is getting worse day by day.”
He said there were at least 15-20 forced abductions and conversions of young girls from Karachi each month, mainly from the multi-ethnic Lyari area. The fact that more and more people were moving to Karachi from the interior of Sindh Province added to the dangers, as there were now more Hindus in Karachi, he said.
“They come to search for better schooling, for work and to escape growing extremism,” said Motumal who believes Muslim religious schools are involved in the conversion business.
“Hindus are non-believers. They believe in many gods, not one, and are heretics. So they should be converted,” said Abdul Mannan, 20, a Muslim student. He said he would be willing to marry a Hindu girl, if asked to by his teachers, “because conversions brought big rewards from Allah [God]. But later I will marry a `real’ Muslim girl as my second wife,” he said.
According to local law, a Muslim man can take more than one wife, but rights activists argue that the law infringes the rights of women and needs to be altered.
Motumal says Hindu organizations are concerned only with the “forced conversion” of girls under 18. “Adult women are of course free to choose,” he said.
Sunil Sushmt, 40, who lives in a village close to the city of Mirpurkhas in central Sindh Province, said his 14-year-old daughter was “lured away” by an older neighbour and, her parents believe, forcibly converted after marriage to a Muslim. “She was a child. What choice did she have?” her father asked. He said her mother still cries for her “almost daily” a year after the event.
According to official figures, Hindus based mainly in Sindh make up 2 percent of Pakistan’s total population of 165 million. “We believe this figure could be higher,” Motumal said.
“My family has lived in Sindh for generations,” Parvati Devi, 70, told IRIN. “But now I worry for the future of my granddaughters and their children. Maybe we too should leave,” she said. “The entire family is seriously considering this.”
*not her real name
First that feudal bitch insulted the APO and now she has forced her to defend her. We need the toppling of this feudal/military/corporatist hold on our country to move ahead with prosperity and dignity.
We need to get rid of these feudal scum bags and their strangle hold on our country. These feudals along with military junta have damaged our country and they are holding our freedom as their captive. We need to take all back from them and kick them out of the corridors of powers. If we don’t do it then our future generations will be right to curse us for our lack of interest in defending our future.
Also I would like to ask those so called liberal NGOs who advocate women rights only when it suits their agenda to come forward and take the lead on the issue.
I would also like to appeal Election Commission of Pakistan and Supreme Court of Pakistan to cancel the registration of Waheeda Shah.
Slapped APO defends Waheeda Shah at press conference
TANDO MUHAMMAD KHAN: Waheeda Shah, the Pakistan People’s Party’s candidate who slapped an Assistant Presiding Officer (APO) in a polling station Saturday, held a press conference and got the humiliated officer to speak in her favor, Geo News reported.
Waheeda Shah had the APO accompany her to the press conference held today and got the latter to give a statement in the former’s support.
However, the people from Waheeda Shah’s own constituency said the woman in Burqa was not the one who was slapped and humiliated yesterday.
Nothing could be said with certainty whether the woman at press conference was the same woman who was subjected to the ill treatment on Saturday. Even if it is believed the woman was the same, her defending the wrongdoer may lay bare the helplessness of the officer but it cannot give Waheeda Shah a clean chit.
It clearly appears to be a case of the powerful Waheeda Shah, a big landlord of the area, getting the poor teacher named Shagufta to give a statement against the herself (Shagufta) and in the former’s defence.
Perhaps Shagufta would have thought that if Waheeda Shah could beat her in front of cameras what worse she must be capable of doing in their absence.
I hope people who support agencies on missing persons issue will either get hidayat or suffer the same in this world to see how it goes.
There were people in Nazi Germany who suppored such acts and supported Hitler’s crimes in the name of nationalism. It is surprising to see our nationalists also claim for Pakistan as “Islam ka Qila” and forget the principles of justice and humanity given in Quran and Sunnah.
Most of these nationalists like fake liberals support these acts due to their sectarian and social class prejudices. The only thing is that they add nationalist flavor to it.
This nationalism and worship of army cannot be associated with any country using the words “Islamic Republic” and I see it as another form of Shirk as teachings of Allah are being sidelined for new Gods like State, Army etc. Iqbal righly said:
In taza khudaon main baRa sab se watan hai
Jo pairhan iss ka hai, woh mazhab ka kafan hai
Yeh bott keh tarasheeda-e-tahzeeb-i-navi hai
Gharat gar-e-khashan-e-deen-i-nabawi hai
Baazu tira tawheed ki quwwat se qawi hai
Islam tira dais he, tu Mustafawi hai!
I often criticize the hypocrisy of fake liberals but today I want to remind those nationalists who consider Pakistan as Islam Ka Qila that Islam doesn’t allow these type of unjust actions and violations of human rights. If some of these missing persons have done some crimes then even in that case army, government and security agencies cannot deny them of their rights including the right to defend themselves in court. If they believe in Islam and consider Pakistan as Islamic Republic then they should know what are the principles of justice in Islam. Islam doesn’t allow injustice with worst enemies of Islam:
“O ye who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity, and let not hatred of any people seduce you that ye deal not justly. Deal justly, that is nearer to your duty. Observe your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is Informed of what ye do.” [Quran : Al-maeda ,8]
Who is Aafia Siddiqui’s husband? Majid Khan or Ammar al-Baluchi? –> More US media lies and deceptions on the issue.
Just read a news on reuters about aafia siddiqui, 5 feet week lady, allegedly linked with al-qaida and serving 86 years imprisonment for snatching a gun from 3 strong marines in prison and in the process getting herself shot without having any finger prints on the gun (according to trial reports and testimony of fbi agent in the court). First USA media was saying Ammar Al-Baluchi is Aafia’s husband and now they are saying Majid Khan is her husband? We also need an open trial in Pakistan to see who is her husband? It seems they are not consistent in their 9/11 lies and deception.
Even the bogus wikipedia entry on her still says Al-baluchi as her husband and many US media sources of that time (though her family denies any of these reports). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aafia_Siddiqui
Justice, humanity and peace loving people in USA should raise their voice on the issue.
Something relevant to current times, written in Nazi days by Pastor Martin Niemoller :
First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
Update : Reuters have recognized their mistake and have now edited the story with a note at the end : (In para 12, removes incorrect description of Aafia Siddiqui as Khan’s wife; she is not his wife)
Transparency International Pakistan says Gilani tenure has given a loss of Rs 8,500 billions in corruption so far. Still nincompoos and corrupts in government expect people to pay taxes like “responsible” citizens. Yes, people like us who pay taxes despite corruption are responsible and they are responsible for beeing ignorant.
People should go for a collective boycott of taxes and take back the country from these evil ruling elite.
by Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has lost an unbelievably high amount, more than Rs8,500 billion (Rs8.5 trillion or US$94 billion), in corruption, tax evasion and bad governance during the last four years of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s tenure, Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) claims.
The TIP advisor, Adil Gillani, told The News that the real impact of corruption in the country’s economy is far more than what is generally estimated or what is formally uncovered. He believes that Pakistan does not need even a single penny from the outside world if it effectively checks the menace of corruption and ensures good governance.
It is generally believed that the four years of the present regime under Gilani had been the worst in terms of corruption and bad governance in the country’s history. Past records of corruption were broken and Pakistan started rising in the ranks of the most corrupt nations of the world.
There has been no check on corruption as the anti-corruption institutions like the National Accountability Bureau and Federal Investigation Agency instead of checking corruption have been siding with the corrupt.
These institutions have been helping the corrupt to get off the hook by distorting and mutilating the evidence in favour of the influential accused.
Adil Gillani, the TIP representative, who too has been haunted by the government during these years for producing corruption reports, explained that the TIP pointed out corruption of Rs390 billion in 2008, Rs450 billion in 2009, Rs825 billion in 2010 and Rs1,100 billion in 2011 under the present regime. The total of these identified cases of corruption is Rs2,765 billion.
In addition to this, he explained the following:
The minister of finance of the present regime himself confirmed corruption in FBR of over Rs500 billon per year, which makes the total Rs2,000 billion; Auditor General of Pakistan pointed out Rs315 billion corruption in 2010; Public Accounts Committee recovered Rs115 billion in 30 months till 2011; circular debt is Rs190 million; KESC was given Rs55 billion illegal benefits per annum since 2008; state-owned enterprises like PSO, PIA, Pakistan Steel, Railways, SSGC, SNGC are eating away Rs150-300 billion per annum; tax to GDP ratio in 2008 was 11%, which in 2011 has reduced to 9.1% instead of being increased.
Gillani explained that Pakistan’s Gross Domestic Product is worth US$175 billion and in the light of this the drop of 1.9% in the tax GDP means annual loss of US$ 3.3 billion. This confirms that FBR is losing Rs300 million per annum, which is annual additional loss since 2008 and stands at Rs1,200 billon in four years
The TIP adviser added that India’s tax-GDP ratio is 18%, and at that rate, Pakistan’s tax evasion/corruption in FBR is 9% of $175 billion, which is US$15.5 billion per year, i.e. Rs1,400 billion per year.
It is worth mentioning here that it is not only the Transparency International but there have been different international bodies including the World Bank and world capitals, which have been showing their concern over rising trend of corruption in Pakistan under the Gilani’s regime. It was mounting corruption and extremely bad governance, which even dithered the outside world to offer cash to Pakistan during 2010 and 2011 floods, which devastated different parts of Pakistan and affected millions of people.
At home the corruption became a fashion in such a shameless manner that even the cabinet ministers started openly pointing fingers at each other and even at the highest levels including the prime minister. Some even approached the Supreme Court but despite all this, corruption remained the hallmark of the present regime, which instead of curbing it started defending it in the name of democracy.