By Mónica G. Prieto, Homs (Siria)
Translation: Blanca G. Bertolaza
A drum’s rhythmic beat sets the pace of the protesters. A young man, 23 year old construction worker until the revolution, chants songs echoed by the others. “What a shame Bashar, that you remain president being a criminal”. “Go away, Bashar”, the crowd shouts back. Among cries and chants, a male voice comes through a speaker. “Stay away from the checkpoints specially. They shoot to kill, so we repeat over and over again: do not go close to them”. Futile advice: the population of Homs has learnt to avoid, as much as possible, these checkpoints, as well as the avenues, where snipers fire indiscriminately at anyone who moves.
Until the bombings became constant, protests were still being held all over Homs. On Fridays, thousands of people went out on the street; the rest of the week, hundreds gathered in the neighborhoods, isolated from one another by military posts, to chant slogans against Bashar al Assad’s regime and show signs urging the international community to act.
“Freedom for our brothers and sons in prison”. “Stop the massacre”. “Where is the Arab League?”. “We are not Shiite, Alaouite or Sunni: we are all Syrian”. Muted cried in a revolution whose legitimacy is questioned by many, driven by the propaganda that labels as terrorists a civil population united in its call for freedom regardless of their social class, age and religion. A population determined to carry on until the end, because each new crime the regime commits renews their strength.
There are no weapons in sight at the protests, unless someone might try to consider as such the loudspeakers carried by the ones who direct them. None of the supposed terrorists Bashar al Assad claims to be fighting either, just men, women, teenagers and small children, ubiquitous in the marches and with the firm will to expose what is going on in Syria.