By Ashley Charles
Western Sun staff writer
It has been a year since the people of Syria took to the streets to protest the long-ruling regime of al-Bashar Assad. The Syrian people, historically oppressed and silenced, were inspired by neighboring nations calling for their own leaders to step down. Four dictators have been relieved of power in surrounding countires, but not without the bloodshed of thousands of citizens.
“They are demanding freedom and dignity,” said Safa, a Syrian student at Golden West College majoring in chemistry.
She, and many other Syrians, fear harsh consequences for speaking out against the Assad regime, even in the U.S.
With the one-year anniversary passing, Syrians continue to stand strong and call for the ousting of their leader. Meanwhile, Assad still has a steady grip on his power.
Safa described the uprising as “a massacre, a genocide, but not a war” recalling the little-known history of crimes against humanity committed by the elder Assad in the 1980’s.
“He killed [meaning through orders given to his army] so many of his own people and they were living in fear. They couldn’t say anything because they would be kidnapped, tortured, and killed.”
Many of Safa’s relatives are still in Syria, including her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. “They, too, support the revolution and are waiting for freedom and justice to prevail,” she said. Communication with her family in Syria is scarce because electricity and phone lines have been cut off.
“They told us that the condition is very bad there,” she said, “many have fled the country as refugees to nearby countries. Unfortunately the phone lines are tapped and as a result, we do not always get detailed answers to the questions we ask them.”
Safa could more accurately paint the conditions in her home country as, “a father who leaves his house to get a loaf of bread writes a will and kisses his family goodbye, because there is a high chance he might not return.”