Monday, September 09, 2013
NON-VIOLENCE IS ALIVE IN SYRIA, STILL
AlJazeera today has an article about the non-violent movement in Syria -- Yes, a non-violent movement. Who knew?
by Rania Khalek
AlJazeera September 9, 2013 4:30AM ET
The Syrian Non Violence Movement continues, despite being largely ignored in the conversation about Syria.Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images
…. Typically ignored ... are the voices of the non-violent opposition movement that took to the streets to challenge Assad in March 2011, and which has persisted against great odds.
"No matter how beleaguered it is, civil resistance continues," says Mohja Kahf, a Professor of Middle East studies and literature at the University of Arkansas and a member of the Syrian Non Violence Movement (SNVM). A network of peaceful groups remains active in opposition to the regime inside Syria, their activities plotted by SNVM on an interactive map that can be viewed online.
Although it was the activists in such groups that originally drove the nationwide uprising against the Assad regime, these days much of their activity involves triage, mitigating the impact of the civil war and building the capacity for self-governance in towns no longer under regime control.
[There is] … a flourishing alternative media infrastructure [in Syria, with] grassroots councils to run local government [that] organize humanitarian relief in areas vacated by the regime, and projects such as the Karama Bus -- or "bus of dignity" -- which travels around Idlib province offering psycho-social support for internally displaced children. "For Syrians living in Syria, just surviving and engaging in daily activities is a form of opposition, a form of activism," said Salahi.
Many such efforts are funded by the Syrian diaspora. Rafif Jouejati, a Syrian-American activist organizing solidarity work describes its results as including schools in Idlib, media centers in Aleppo, relief-distribution in Homs and a planned water-treatment facility in Deir Ezzor.
And while many Syrians who first engaged in peaceful protest later turned to arms in the face of the regime's crackdown, others continue to do non-violent political work.