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By Mónica G. Prieto (Homs, Syria)

Translation: Blanca G. Bertolaza

  • Fifth chapter of the “Syrian Chronicles”, written this Christmas in the besieged city of Homs, in Syria.
  • Standing on top of a platform, Mohamed al Dalaub, 23 year old construction worker, begins to sing a song. Men, women and children are his choir and start dancing as if it were a party. Except that this party, like in all of Syria, can end drenched in blood.
  • “When freedom knocks on your door, fear disappears”. That is Al Dalaub’s explanation for the continuation of the protests.

The Baba Amr singers during a protest in Homs. (Mónica G. Prieto/Periodismo Humano)

Standing on top of a platform, Mohamed al Dalaub, 23 year old construction worker, starts a songs that the hundreds who almost daily attend the demonstrations in the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs have already learnt by heart. “Come on, Bashar, what you are doing is wrong. Leave and leave Syria alone”. Men, women and children are his choir, dancing to the rhythm of the drum played by Mohamed Darmush, 23 year old painter, and start dancing as if they were attending a party. Except that this party, like in all the rest of Syria, can end up drenched in blood because the Security Forces, for the last nine months, have been trying to silence the cries that demand freedom with their weapons.

Young women at a protest in Baba Amr, Homs. December 2011. (Mónica G. Prieto/Periodismo Humano)

Protests in Homs begin with songs and usually end with shots. Each neighborhood in this city, which has been under siege for five months, holds rallies against the regime every night. They are not as marked by improvisation as in the beginning, and the main example is that each one has its own revolutionary singer-songwriter, such as Al Dalaub or Zakiah Ahmad, a 22 year old construction worker who spend their days writing and rehearsing in a humble home with Darmoush the songs they will sing by night. Leer más

By Mónica G. Prieto, Homs (Siria)
Translation: Blanca G. Bertolaza

Demonstration in Homs, Syria. December 2011 (Mónica G. Prieto / Periodismo Humano)

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.

Demonstration in Homs, December 2011 (M. G. P. / Periodismo Humano)

“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.

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