"To the impartial eye, the world not only seems an unlikely one-off phenomenon, but a constant strain on reason. If reason exists, that is, if a neutral reason exists. So speaks the voice from within. So speaks Joker's voice." - Jostein Gaarder

Monday, April 30, 2007

Remembering our bravest

This is a letter that has been sent from our freedom fighters behind bars in Adra Prison in Damascus...

It has been republished around the blogsphere...

From the Prisoners of Conscience in Damascus Central Prison Al Adra

We are prisoners of conscience and opinion in Damascus Central Prison, lawyer Anwar Al Bunni, writer Michel Kilo, Dr. Kamal Labwani, activists Mahmoud Issa, and Faek Al Mir, and Professor Aref Dalila who could not be reached as he spends his sixth year in solitary confinement. After the sentencing of lawyer Anwar Al Bunni on 24 April 2007, we would like to say thank you and greet our families, friends, and all the people, groups, committees, organizations, associations, parties and political assemblies of Arabs, Kurds and Assyrians in Syria and the Arab world. We thank and greet the official representatives, countries, media and websites that support us by protesting our trials and arrests, and denying the accusations against our colleague Anwar Al Bunni.

We would like to send our heartfelt greetings and thanks to all of you and hope that your noble and brave attitude will not stop only with denying these accusations and supporting our cause. Our case as prisoners of conscience is part of the continuing crisis of basic freedoms and human rights in Syria that began with the Emergency Law 44 years ago. This crisis reached its height in the 1980s and again today by an increase in tyranny, arrests and the suppression of fundamental freedoms.

Tens of thousands of Syrians have paid a horrible price, some with their lives, others with the loss of years and youth from inhumane prison conditions and cruel torture. Still more have suffered by being forced to escape the tyranny or enter into voluntary exile, another difficult experience. Other Syrians stayed, throwing salt on their wounds and binding their tongues to save themselves pain. Those that couldn’t live with their tongues tied faced a future in prison, homeless and alone. For the few people that climbed to the top of the tyranny and darkened Syrian society, they have contributed to the corruption, theft and poverty that have strangled the necks of the people.

The denial of fundamental human rights in Syria is the main case that we work for and your support for prisoners of conscience is part of this fight. Fighting for the release of these prisoners is a duty, not only to decrease their suffering and their families’ pain, but also to encourage others by knowing they are not alone. We must give society hope, making sure its doors and streets are not closed. With the power of hope it is possible to fight the crisis of freedom and human rights in Syria in a peaceful way.

Terrorism is the enemy of mankind and civilization itself. It flourishes in societies that lack freedom and close doors to peaceful expression, leaving violence as a way of expressing oneself. Inside these societies suffering from poverty, where they find no well being on earth they will turn to the heavens and the answers that it may provide them. The lack of basic freedoms and human rights coupled with poverty are two faces of the same coin in the Third World. Syria is at the forefront of totalitarian countries, ruled from an isolated point of view with its citizens either idle passengers or doomed to be labeled traitors

The lack of freedom, means of expression, political participation and accountability leads to the growth of corruption, despotism, looting of public funds, rampant poverty and the collapse of moral values. The real fight against terrorism must not only be about combating extremist ideas. These ideas have existed throughout history, though they will always remain on the periphery, isolated and shunned, unless they find fertile soil to take root and grow. If they are allowed to develop in the soil of society, they will spread like toxic plants, poisoning communities and innocent people.

Addressing the root causes of terrorism requires opening up pathways to free expression and the peaceful exchange of ideas. By giving people unfettered freedom we can blunt the sword of injustice, oppression and domination to grant full political participation, a hand in future decision-making, accountability, the preservation of equality and a life of dignity. This would make the world a safer place and improve international security.

Syrians have paid a high price for their rights and freedom and we hope to be the last group forced to pay this price to help the great Syrian people. To do this we need more than your solidarity and denunciations. We need constant and tireless efforts to compel Syrian authorities to respect human rights, international law and the treaties and agreements it has signed which demand freedom of expression and opinion. The release of political prisoners is a necessary first step, including the abolition of the State Emergency Law and other such laws like Decree 49 signed in 1980 or the Hasakah Accountability Decree of 1962. Syria must abolish the State Security Court, compensate those that have suffered, create an independent judiciary, end torture and hold perpetrators responsible. They must stop political arrests and ensure the freedom of the press, allowing political participation and the formation of parties, organizations and civil society.

They must stop the looting of public funds and policies of impoverishment and domination. However, these steps are just the beginning necessary to put Syria on the path to security and move towards development, progress and the protection of national unity that now suffers from division and tension. These rifts and divisions are now impossible to conceal, despite the dancing and celebrations and empty rhetoric about a healthy society that in reality is sick and suffering. As prisoners of conscience and opinion we are apprehensive about the future of our homeland, our children and our very decision to shape Syria’s future. However, we will not be deterred by threats, intimidation, and the repression of long years of imprisonment that we face to save our country and ourselves

Adra Prison. 28-4-2007

And the Arabic translation, from ME Transparent:

من معتقلي الرأي في سجن دمشق المركزيإننا معتقلو الرأي والضمير في سجن دمشق المركزي /عدرا/، المحامي أنور البني والكاتب ميشيل كيلو والدكتور كمال اللبواني والناشطين محمود عيسى وفائق المير والبروفسور عارف دليلة الذي لم نتمكن من الاتصال به والذي يمضي سنته السادسة في زنزانة منفردة، وبعد الحكم الذي صدر على المحامي أنور البني بتاريخ 24-4-2007، فإننا نود أن نتوجه بالشكر والتحية لعائلاتنا وأهلنا وأصدقائنا وجميع الأشخاص والمجموعات والهيئات والمنظمات والجمعيات والأحزاب والتجمعات السياسية في سوريا من عرب وأكراد وآثوريين وفي البلاد العربية في مختلف أنحاء العالم والممثلين الرسميين والاعتباريين والدول ووسائل الإعلام ومواقع الانترنت وكل الذين تضاموا معنا واحتجوا على اعتقالنا ومحاكمتنا ونددوا واستنكروا الحكم الصادر بحق زميلنا المحامي أنور البني الناشط في مجال حقوق الانسان.

نتوجه بالشكر والتحية لكل فرد منكم من كل قلوبنا ونتمنى أن لا يقف هذا الموقف النبيل والشجاع عند حدود اللحظة والمناسبة والتضامن والاستنكار فقط.

إن قضيتنا كمعتقلي رأي وضمير في سوريا هي جزء واستمرار لأزمة الحريات العامة وحقوق الانسان في سوريا بدأت مع إعلان فرض حالة الطوارئ منذ أربع وأربعين عاما قاسية وشهدت ذروة حادة في الثمانينيات وهاهي تشهد ذروة حادة أخرى بزيادة وتصاعد القمع والاعتقال ومصادرة الحريات

لقد دفع عشرات الألوف من السوريين ثمنا غاليا طوال تلك الفترة فمنهم من قضى نحبه ودفع كل حياته ومنهم من دفع سنوات طويلة من

زهرة عمره وريعان شبابه في ظروف لا إنسانية في السجون والمعتقلات وعانى التعذيب الوحشي ومنهم من هرب من البطش والقمع إلى من الغربة مختارا النفي الطوعي وتجربة قسرية ومعاناة بشكل مختلف وبقية السوريين فرض عليهم الانكفاء إلى ذواتهم ووضع الملح على الجرح والمعاناة والعض على الألسنة هربا من البطش. ومن لم يستطع احتمال زمن القهر الطويل فانفلت عقال لسانه أو عقله كان مصيره السجن أو التنكيل أو التشريد، والقلة القليلة تسلقت قمة القهر والقمع والتسلط التي خيمت على المجتمع السوري فعاثت فسادا ونهبا وإفقارا وتسلطا على رقاب البلاد والعباد.

هذه هي القضية الأساسية التي ينبغي دائم العمل من أجلها. وتضامنكم مع المعتقلين هو جزء من هذا الفعل والعمل لإطلاق سراحهم هو خطوة واجبة ليس فقط من أجل تخفيف معاناة المعتقل وعائلته بل هو ضروري لتشجيع الآخرين وإحساسهم بأنهم ليسوا وحدهم في هذه المعركة ولأجل إعطاء أمل للمجتمع بأن الأبواب ليست مغلقة نهائيا والطريق ليست مسدودة نهائيا وأن هناك قوة أمل حقيقي أن تصل أزمة الحريات وحقوق الانسان في سوريا إلى حل سلمي آمن.

إن الإرهاب عدو البشرية والإنسانية والحضارة الأول، يلقى الدعم والأرض الخصبة في التجمعات التي تعاني أزمة حريات وتغلق أبواب وطرق التعبير السلمي مما يفتح الأبواب لطريق التعبير العنفية والتجمعات التي تعاني من فقر شديد حيث لا يجد الانسان ما يملكه أبدا في الأرض فيسعى تحت تأثير الأفكار المتطرفة الخاطئة إلى ملكيته في السماء وما يوعدون.

إن انعدام الحريات العامة وانتهاك حقوق الإنسان والفقر الشديد وجهان لعملة واحدة في بلدان العالم الثالث وسوريا في مقدمة هذه الدول خاصة وأنها من الدول الشمولية التي تحكمها وجهة النظر الواحدة والرأي الواحد والآخرون مارقون وخونة.فغياب الحريات ووسائل التعبير والمشاركة السياسية والرتابة والمحاسبة يؤدي على نمو الفساد والإفساد والتسلط والإفقار ونهب الأموال العامة ويستشري الفقر وتنهار القيم الأخلاقية والإنسانية.

إن محاربة الإرهاب الحقيقية لا يجب أن يكون هدفها فقط محاربة الأفكار المتطرفة فهذه على أهميتها فإنها موجودة عبر التاريخ ولكنها معزولة ومنبوذة وليست ذات تأثير إذا لم تجد التربة الخصبة لزراعة أفكارها بل يجب أن يتوجه إلى تجفيف هذه التربة التي تتلقى هذه البذور لتحويلها إلى نباتات سامة تجتاح مساحات أوسع فأوسع من المجتمعات وتنقلب على أفكار إجرامية تطال الأبرياء والمجتمع ككل. إن معالجة أسباب الإرهاب يتطلب فتح أبواب وطرق التعبير السلمية وتبادل الآراء وإعطاء الشعوب حريتها المسلوبة منها ورفع سيف الظلم والقهر والتسلط عنها ومنحها حق المشاركة السياسية الكاملة برسم مستقبلها وصنع القرار وصنع القرار والقرابة والمحاسبة وحفظ حقها بالمساواة والعيش الكريم. وهذه مسؤولية دولية عامة لأن الأمن أصبح في العالم أمنا واحدا.

إن الشعب السوري دفع أثمان غالية للحصول على حقوقه وحرياته ونأمل أن نكون نحن آخر دفعة من هذا الثمن الغالي والكبير الذي يستحق الشعب السوري بعده أن يسترد حقوقه وحريته.إننا نحتاج إلى أكثر من تضامنكم واستنكاركم. إننا نحتاج إلى عملكم المستمر والدؤوب لإلزام السلطات السورية باحترام حقوق الانسان والقوانين والاتفاقيات الدولية التي التزمت بها وتطبيقها فعلا وإطلاق حرية التعبير والرأي والعمل السياسي ولعل إطلاق سراح المعتقلين السياسيين هو الخطوة الأولى الضرورية لذلك.بالإضافة إلى إلغاء حالة الطوارئ والقوانين الاستثنائية وعلى رأسها المرسوم 49 لعام 1980 ومرسوم الإحصاء الاستثنائي في محافظة الحسكة عام 1962 والمحاكم الاستثنائية وفي مقدمتها محكمة أمن الدولة والمحاكم الميدانية وإلغاء أحكامها والتعويض على المتضررين منه وإعطاء القضاء استقلاله الكامل ووقف ومنع التعذيب ومحاسبة مرتكبيه وإلغاء الاعتقال السياسي وإطلاق حرية الصحافة والإعلام والسماح بالمشاركة السياسية وتشكيل الأحزاب والمنظمات وجمعيات المجتمع المدني خارج الوصاية الرسمية ووقف نهب المال العام وسياسة الإفقار والتسلط والهيمنة.

إن هذه الخطوات تشكل فقط البداية الضرورية لوضع سوريا على سكة الأمان وبالاتجاه الصحيح للتطور والتقدم وتحمي الوحدة الوطنية التي تعاني من الشروخ والانقسامات والأزمات والاحتقانات التي تعصف بها ولم يعد ممكنا إخفائها بالأهازيج والمهرجانات والدبكات والتصاريح الجوفاء الفارغة حول صحة المجتمع الذي يعاني أمراض عدة شديدة .

إننا كمعتقلي رأي وضمير خائفون على مستقبل الوطن الذي نتمسك به وعلى مستقبل أطفالنا ومن حقنا المشاركة بصنع هذا المستقبل ولولا إبداء رأينا ولن نأل جهدا من أجل تحقيق مستقبل أفضل لهذا الوطن ولن يرهقنا التهديد والوعيد والقمع والقهر لا سنوات السجن الطويلة عن الاستمرار بما آمنا به وندرنا نفسنا له

سجن عدرا 28-4-2007

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A quick note of democracy...

Anwar al-Bunni sentenced to 5 years in prison for "endangering internal security"...

Shame on every one of those who will step into the parliament next week...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

3eed al-Jala2

April 17th. National Independence Day.

The last French forces depart from Syria in 1946 and President Shukri al-Quwatli declares Syria independent from the French Mandate. Quwatli makes the day the national “Independence Day” of Syria, formally ending 26-years of the French Mandate. The first celebration of independence was marked with grand festivities all throughout Syria. At 9:300 am on April 17, 1946, a 21-gun salute was fired from all the castles surrounding Damascus, indicating that the last French troops had formally evacuated. Before the thousands that assembled in front of government headquarters in the Marjeh Square, President Quwatli appeared with Arab officials and Syrian nationalists who came to celebrate Syria’s Independence Day. By his side was former President Hashim al-Atasi, who had led the nationalist movement during the years of the Mandate, and ruled Syria in 1936-1939. The first secretary-general of the Arab League, Abdul Rahman Azzam Pasha, was also present, and so was Lebanese Prime Minister Sami al-Sulh, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faysal (later king) Ibn Abdul-Aziz, and King Farouk’s special envoy Abdul-Latif Talaat Pasha. The long awaited Syrian Army paraded through the streets of Damascus, and was accompanied by troops from the Lebanese, Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, and Iraqi armies. Following the Syrian Army came the Syrian Boy Scouts, then the Maysaloun Troops, carrying a huge portrait of General Yusuf al-Azma, the Minister of War who had died while fighting the French when they entered Damascus in 1920. Representatives of every Syrian city came to Quwatli and presented him with a small silk sack containing the soil of every Syrian province, telling him that he was the leader of all of Syria and not only Damascus. Quwatli led the procession to Maysaloun, the site where Yusuf al-Azma had been killed in 1920. Collectively, they commemorated him as the first Syrian official to fall while fighting the French Army.

Source: Syrian History.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


بغيبتك نزل الشتي, قومي اطلعي عالبال
في فوق سجادة الصلاة, واللي عم بيصلوا قلال
صوتن متل مصر المرا, ويعليك الرجال
عا كتر ما طلع العشب بيناتنا بيرعى الغزال

وديت مع راعي حمام, يشفلي الطقس شمال
قلي السنة جايي هوا, بيوقع الخيال
يا ريت لا سرجت الفرس, ولا بعتت هالمرسال
مرسيل خليفة - قومي اطلعي عاليال
شعر... طلال حيدر

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Monday, April 09, 2007


Too many stuff to put in one post, but it is here anyway.. I'm just gonna write and post when i get my internet.


So, what has been happening in the last few weeks...

I would only describe it in the amount of confusion mounting up inside of me.

There are so many people that I wanna write about right now, so many pages have been written and flipped over with the new spring.

So many obsessions, so many small papers I've kept in a safe place, and so many more memories of everyone, of May, of Zeid, of Maad, of Alisa, Tamara, Farhad, Tanya, Laura, My teacher who came to me and toast me a glass of wine on my graduation... all the way through the many airports I dragged myself through, all of them saw me both, hopeful and depressed, from tokyo to seoul to cairo to moscow to damascus... and back to tokyo, all the hours I've spent in Keio trains and Tokyo metro, Roppongi Hills, Shibuya a place in which I fell in love with, of the first dawn of 2007 on the Latakia cool seaside...

Just like how the sakura explodes in ur eyes once u look at it, Nature, God recreates the world again in these 7 days of sakura, and you can see it, and you can sit there and let your heart skip a beat, two, three beats... the way it renders the smooth sun rays into your eyes leaves you in the confusion between reality and all the pictures flashing in your mind, all these people you have had to say goodbye to, the sweet laughter coming from a person walking next to you, the glorious feeling of intimidation towards the brush strokes of a Da Vinci original masterpiece, the smell of the ground, the rain drops, the sounds of the train driver telling you to stand behind the yellow line, and the laziness in ur steps walking down from tobitakyu station to your dorm at 7am on a saturday morning... the amount of knowledge, pure knowledge, pure happiness, pure sadness, nostalgia, ache and laughter, that one year can hold... The same confusion that you felt staring from the campus cirlce to the sakura trees one spring ago... only with a lot more of everything, and a lot more to come.

Nagoya, I fell in love with this city the first day, maybe because I had already decided to, or maybe just because it is beatiful...
Nothing so special about it, no huge crossings, few impressive skyscrapers, nothing too fancy, except a laughter that you can see everywhere, people laugh here, people chat on the train, they gesture with their hands and talk to you, they use different voice tones, and frown when they dont like something, they talk to you in bars, on a bench waiting for ur turn at a bank, in trains and shops...

They say Good Morning in the elevator.

the beauty of having the whole world close to your fingertips, the taste of Azerbaijani wine and the sound of a Georgian laughter, the way "Californians" believe in Google as the new god [Admit it Alisa, you do], The sound of a hourse-cart strolling through a Cairo cool summer night, and the taste of Syrian well made Bamieh in the midst of an afternoon Nagoya...

I understand just now why it is such a magical thing for the japanese, I realize how beautiful it is to have only beginings... To begin a new year, but never end one...


When you look back at your life, how will you decide that u have led a good one...?
I said, among other stuff, When I think of an old love, I wanna be able to smile in nostalgia and still enjoy the memory.

I still dont understand the simple ways in which i function.


I listened to an old conversation about pain, qouting Jubran from the prophet... As much as pain carves down ur spirit, it creates space to contain joy... its easy to romanticize this, i do. But she'd say, "I dont want this pain, this joy is not mine anyway..."

I know nothing about pain.

I've read about it, I've romanticized it, I sympathized with people in pain, I might've helped some at some point... but I've never really experienced pain, I always crack down even before I get to the point where pain is.

"There is no such point where you stop feeling pain, it will always be more painful each second... there is no threshold...", 3ammo Hassan. someone who had to go through "pain" for years in mukhabarat basements...

How do you ease people's pain when you know nothing about it. you simply can't.


I'm more and more growing into another George Costanza, I need to figure out what my instinct is telling me about anything, and then, go the exact opposite way. It might make life much easier for me, and for those around.
90% of the decisions that I had made conciously throughout those last 2 years have come back to haunt me one way or the other...

Now, I'm stuck in a whole new city, in an apartment that I have to leave within the month, with the cost of moving into a new apartment exceeding $2000 that we both have $400 out of it, a dorm is not a possibility [one of those decisions that come back to haunt me] I have just subscribed to the phone and internet that I have to move yet again to my new place. And yet, I have another guy stuck in the same shit, because of what my stupid instinct have told me.

and now I have to chose my electives for this year, I am seriously considering chosing the things that I would never usually think of, because according to the new "Theory" it would be the right thing to do...

Personally, it's a whole different story... it's a life of deliberatly chosing the wrong thing to say over anything else... I've hit my head against so many different walls, so many different times because of the level of idiocy this theory works through...
I was just checking some old conversations with May, and the whole time, I was in somekind state of sarcastic disbelief of what i have taken myself to write there...

maybe its a disease... what do u say?


That being said,
Waking up in the early morning to go to kyoto, stealing ur roommate's iPod and and taking a walk to chikusa station at 7am with Fairouz drawing the widest smile on ur face, saying goodmorning to the smiling faces staring at you... is still a genuine happy moment...

I am still alright.



Wednesday, April 04, 2007

al-3alam ekhwat sharmota, ya 7akeem

I still dont have internet, probably on friday with more updates on Sakura and Nagoya... but for nowm I just need to scream my heart out...

Why the fuck is it that always the third question I get from Syrians [after whats ur name, and where are u from] is, *Men wen ballah, men al-lad2ieh nafsa walla men al-reef?*

3ala 2olet ziad,
al-3alam ekhwat sharmota, ya 7akeem