Confessions of an ‘agent’ in Syria–>DAWN News Article

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 (Pen name)

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2012/02/28/confessions-of-an-agent-in-syria.html

 

 

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.

 

Why War Fails–>By Howard Zinn

Below is an article by late Howard Zinn on the issue of war and its role in achieving any good desired goals. A good read for those who are interested in understanding the view other than the one presented by governments fighting this criminal war.

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Why War Fails

By Howard Zinn

Source : http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15395.htm

10/23/06 ” The Progressive” –I suggest there is something important to be learned from the recent experience of the United States and Israel in the Middle East: that massive military attacks are not only morally reprehensible but useless in achieving the stated aims of those who carry them out.

In the three years of the Iraq War, which began with shock-and-awe bombardment and goes on with day-to-day violence and chaos, the United States has failed utterly in its claimed objective of bringing democracy and stability to Iraq. American soldiers and civilians, fearful of going into the neighborhoods of Baghdad, are huddled inside the Green Zone, where the largest embassy in the world is being built, covering 104 acres and closed off from the world outside its walls.

I remember John Hersey’s novel The War Lover, in which a macho American pilot, who loves to drop bombs on people, and also to boast about his sexual conquests, turns out to be impotent. George Bush, strutting in his flight jacket on an aircraft carrier, and announcing victory in Iraq, has turned out to be an embodiment of the Hersey character, his words equally boastful, his military machine equally impotent.

The Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon has not brought security to Israel. Indeed, it has increased the number of its enemies, whether in Hezbollah or Hamas, or among Arabs who belong to neither of those groups.

That failure of massive force goes so deep into history that Israeli leaders must have been extraordinarily obtuse, or blindly fanatic, to miss it. The memory is not lost to Professor Ze’ev Maoz at Tel Aviv University, writing recently in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz about a previous Israeli invasion of Lebanon: “Approximately 14,000 civilians were killed between June and September of 1982, according to a conservative estimate.” The result, aside from the physical and human devastation, was the rise of Hezbollah, whose rockets provoked another desperate exercise of massive force.

The history of wars fought since the end of World War II reveals the futility of large-scale violence. The United States and the Soviet Union, despite their enormous firepower, were unable to defeat resistance movements in small, weak nations. Even though the United States dropped more bombs in the Vietnam War than in all of World War II, it was still forced to withdraw. The Soviet Union, trying for a decade to conquer Afghanistan, in a war that caused a million deaths, became bogged down and also finally withdrew.

Even the supposed triumphs of great military powers turn out to be elusive. After attacking and invading Afghanistan, President Bush boasted that the Taliban were defeated. But five years later, Afghanistan is rife with violence, and the Taliban are active in much of the country. Last May, there were riots in Kabul, after a runaway American military truck killed five Afghans. When U.S. soldiers fired into the crowd, four more people were killed.

After the brief, apparently victorious war against Iraq in 1991, George Bush Sr. declared (in a moment of rare eloquence): “The specter of Vietnam has been buried forever in the desert sands of the Arabian peninsula.” Those sands are bloody once more.

The same George Bush presided over the military attack on Panama in 1989, which killed thousands and destroyed entire neighborhoods, justified by the “war on drugs.” Another victory, but in a few years, the drug trade in Panama was thriving as before.

The nations of Eastern Europe, despite Soviet occupation, developed resistance movements that eventually compelled the Soviet military to leave. The United States, which had its way in Latin America for a hundred years, has been unable, despite a long history of military interventions, to control events in Cuba, or Venezuela, or Brazil, or Bolivia.

Overwhelming Israeli military power, while occupying the West Bank and Gaza, has not been able to stop the resistance movement of Palestinians. Israel has not made itself more secure by its continued use of massive force. The United States, despite two successive wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, is not more secure.

More important than the futility of armed force, and ultimately more important, is the fact that war in our time always results in the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of people. To put it more bluntly, war is terrorism. That is why a “war on terrorism” is a contradiction in terms.

The repeated excuse for war, and its toll on civilians-and this has been uttered by Pentagon spokespersons as well as by Israeli officials-is that terrorists hide among civilians. Therefore the killing of innocent people (in Iraq, in Lebanon) is “accidental” whereas the deaths caused by terrorists (9/11, Hezbollah rockets) are deliberate.

This is a false distinction. If a bomb is deliberately dropped on a house or a vehicle on the ground that a “suspected terrorist” is inside (note the frequent use of the word “suspected” as evidence of the uncertainty surrounding targets), it is argued that the resulting deaths of women and children is not intended, therefore “accidental.” The deaths of innocent people in bombing may not be intentional. Neither are they accidental. The proper description is “inevitable.”

So if an action will inevitably kill innocent people, it is as immoral as a “deliberate” attack on civilians. And when you consider that the number of people dying inevitably in “accidental” events has been far greater than all the deaths of innocent people deliberately caused by terrorists, one must reconsider the morality of war, any war in our time.

It is a supreme irony that the “war on terrorism” has brought a higher death toll among innocent civilians than the hijackings of 9/11, which killed up to 3,000 people. The United States reacted to 9/11 by invading and bombing Afghanistan. In that operation, at least 3,000 civilians were killed, and hundreds of thousands were forced to flee their homes and villages, terrorized by what was supposed to be a war on terror. Bush’s Iraq War, which he keeps linking to the “war on terror,” has killed between 40,000 and 140,000 civilians.

More than a million civilians in Vietnam were killed by U.S. bombs, presumably by “accident.” Add up all the terrorist attacks throughout the world in the twentieth century and they do not equal that awful toll.

If reacting to terrorist attacks by war is inevitably immoral, then we must look for ways other than war to end terrorism.

And if military retaliation for terrorism is not only immoral but futile, then political leaders, however cold-blooded their calculations, must reconsider their policies. When such practical considerations are joined to a rising popular revulsion against war, perhaps the long era of mass murder may be brought to an end.