A member of Bashar al-Assad’s death squad — the Shabiha (Arabic for ‘ghosts’) — describes one rape he had committed. This behavior is “normal,” he said. (via Women Under Siege Project.)
They were like monsters. They had huge muscles, big bellies, big beards. They were all very tall and frightening, and took steroids to pump up their bodies.
I had to talk to them like children, because the Shabiha likes people with low intelligence. But that is what makes them so terrifying – the combination of brute strength and blind allegiance to the regime.
Rape carried out by Bashar al-Assad’s forces and allies against women, men, and children (read: 11-year-old-boy raped by three of Bashar al-Assad’s security services officers, PDF) is widespread in Syria and is not just the result of abuse of power but also is used as a tool to spread fear among the revolution:
Late one night, ten ‘shabiha’ broke into the bedroom where she and her daughters were asleep.
"They tore at my nightgown trying to strip me. I started screaming. My daughter was crying," said Hadija. "They were taking videos and photos on their phones". The men only fled when neighbours who heard the commotion intervened.
A week later four of them returned. “I promised that my husband would hand himself him,” said Hadija. “They said; ‘Tell your husband that we have seen your breasts and we have stripped you. Next time we are going to rape you and we film it and air it everywhere’”. Terrified, she gathered her children and fled to stay with relatives on the outskirts of the city, never staying in one home for more than a few days.
"They [security forces] did the same with many others. It became known that the sister, wife, or daughter of anyone who was fighting might be raped, and many were," said Hadija. "Now those who are wanted take their wives and daughters with them."
A reccuring mention in victims’ testimonies is the use of mice and rats. In one instance:
He inserted a rat in her vagina. She was screaming. Afterwards we saw blood on the floor. He told her: ‘Is this good enough for you?’ They were mocking her. It was obvious she was in agony. We could see her. After that she no longer moved.
The Shabiha are better known for their massacres, one of the most notable was carried out in Houla, where 108 people were killed, including 34 women and 49 children.
The U.N. reported that “entire families were shot in their houses”, and videos emerged of children with their skulls split open. Others had been shot or knifed to death, some with their throats cut:
Clothing drive for Syrian refugees this Saturday in Beirut, if you are in Lebanon please donate any clothes you may have and if you know people in Lebanon please tell them to do so.
Dear all, yesterday a child in Homs in Syria died because of the cold freezing weather. To add insult to the injury, Syria has been hit by some of the worst snowy storms in the region for the last 50 years. We are collecting duvets, blankets, hats, gloves, jackets and jumpers (EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND). Please search in your heart and make a Syrian child keep warm this winter by adding one item to you Christmas shopping list. Best regards, Manhal Alnasser 07941896111 (via http://in-the-midst-of-winter)
Elena Dorfman. Syria’s Lost Generation.
Syria’s Lost Generation is a powerful portrait series by photographer Elena Dorfman that takes a look at Syrian teens who have been forced to live in refugee camps due to the state of their native country, currently amidst a civil war. The portraits, accompanied by brief descriptions about each photographed individual, provides insight into the lives of these displaced teens who represent a generation in their culture that feels like it’s losing hope.
Dorfman spent six months covering the harrowing situations that Syrian refugees have endured during this time of crisis for theUnited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), focusing her coverage on the plight of teenagers relocated to camps in Lebanon and Iragi Kurdistan. Adolescence is hard enough on its own, but these youths have the added obstacle of living and coming of age in less than desirable conditions with little to encourage their development.
The teenage refugees face difficulties on all fronts, whether you look at it from a social, economic, or personal standpoint. Ultimately, they’re in an unfortunate position that has waned their ambitions for greater opportunities and any solid hope of returning to their home in Syria. They are left feeling lost both culturally and physically as displaced individuals in a foreign land.
I’tmad, 17, Lebanon. Iman’s younger sister. Also stays inside the camp most days and misses her old life filled with classmates and books.
Abdallah, 18, Domiz refugee camp in Iraqi Kurdistan
Lives in a “singles” section (an area for men who arrive with no family). After taking part in demonstrations and refusing to join the Syrian army, he was forced into exile to avoid grave consequences. He had to leave his mother and sister in Syria whom he’s had no contact with since his departure.
Bathoul, 18, Lebanon
Lives with her large family in a windowless cement shell on the side of the road; her home in Syria was destroyed. Had hopes of becoming an architect but now focuses on helping her mother and sister find food and clothing.
Dua’a, 17, northern Lebanon. Lives with her older brother. The rest of her family was unable to join her as the war intensified and became too dangerous.
Iman, 19, Lebanon
Shares a single room with her extended family at a shelter that houses seven hundred refugees. Her husband is back in Syria. She is wearing the only clothes she owns and stays inside all day.
Ziad, 14, Za-atari refugee camp in Jordan
Lives with his family. Has hope that he can return to Syria one day and rebuild their country.
Tarak, 18, northern Lebanon
Lives with his mother and siblings; his father was killed. Covers his face from fear of being recognized by Syrian officials.
Mariam “Al-Astrolabiya” Al-Ijliya: Why she kicks ass
- She lived in the tenth century in Aleppo, Syria and was a famous scientist who designed and constructed astrolabes.
- Astrolabes were global positioning instruments that determine the position of the sun and planets, so they were used in the fields of astronomy, astrology and horoscopes. They were also used to tell time and for navigation by finding location by latitude and longitude. They were also used to find the Qibla, prayer times, and determine starting days for Ramadan and Eid.
- Mariam Al-Ijliya came from a family of engineers and manufacturers, like her father and many engineers, she was a student of a certain Bitolus, who was a well known manufacturer of astrolabes in Baghdad and she in turn became his student. Her hand-crafted designs were so intricate and innovative that she was employed by the ruler of the city, Sayf Al Dawla, from 944 AD until 967 AD.
I went to the main event at the ISNA convention tonight and walked out when Andre Carson, after giving a glowing speech espousing blatantly liberal values, introduced a pre-filmed clip of Obama giving the convention his blessing, investing in the tokenism that diverts attention from his imperialistic foreign policy and mollifies gullible Muslims. The same tactic for which Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize was employed here—pretty words fulfilling the multiculturalism quota as he drones, bombs and invades our countries.
I haven’t felt so sickened in a long time. Obama currently prepares to airstrike Syria, but it feels as if the people around here are unaware of this reality. No scholar, no speaker, uttered Syria’s name. The US declares impending war on a Muslim country in upheaval and not a word is said about it. Where’s the analysis? Where’s the dissent? Where the fuck are our leaders?
Are Muslims so occupied with their personal success that they close their eyes to Obama’s victims? Are Muslims so afraid of FBI informers that we betray the people of Syria? Are we so consumed with assimilation that we forget our global southern brethren?
The narrative was not challenged or mitigated when Sherman Jackson took the stage. He only enforced it. He denounced 9/11, made a definite, absolute statement, “Violence is an ineffective solution” with inevitable parallels to MLK. It’s been twelve years. I’m tired of apologizing for 9/11. I’m tired of mollifying bigoted Americans because I’m viewed as a security threat. I’m tired of violent resistance being demonized when the American government is killing my people, when their deaths are normalized and deemed necessary to the War on Terror, when theory in favor of violent resistance preexisted MLK, when the Prophet (PBUH) engaged in violent resistance. I’m tired of a religion the majority of whose participants are post colonized peoples being softened to appease non-Muslim Americans. I’m tired of American Muslims’ fear and complacency obscuring the truth we naturally deviate towards. And it saddens me precisely because we know better, because I know that Sherman Jackson knows better.
As an Ummah we need a lot of fucking work, and reconciliation with our oppressors is not part of that.
Not yet. I sat down a few hours ago for the first time to get shit done in the last two weeks and what pretty much happened was this (thus the asking for help). I’m going to take everything with a grain of salt, like always, and I’m going to look up the papers you suggested too. (Thank you).
….I ‘ve been so busy with everything that it’s all slipped past me and don’t understand anything on syria except that everything’s fucked up right now. And that I don’t know where to start on figuring this out.
First of all, add Ajax in Iraq to the list of plays Zilvia should read.
Second this is the article I used to do my homework, it is in no way comprehensive. (Which is what I needed, and I feel like it may be a good jumping point.)
Okay, thank you!