'We are condemned to hope. And what's happening now can't be the end of history.'" Saadallah Wannous, a Syrian playwright, once wrote. And that's exactly what keeps us going. Hope.
One year ago, we were certain the almost impossible dream of a Syrian revolution would have a heavy price. Even so, people were struck by the atrocities and massacres that surpassed their imagination. Quite a few people believed that the western educated ophthalmologist would retake the route of his late father of crushing dissent. People believed the handsome, young president would defend global human rights. They believed he would answer the demands of the people, and undertake a serious reform plan to transform Syria into an inclusive democratic state where citizens' rights were respected and all political views could compete peacefully.
We believed he would win our hearts, but he chose not to.
In his first speech on 30 March 2011, Bashar al-Assad resorted to the means of his father, and no one can blame him. He had spent much of his life as a son of Hafez al-Assad who had killed tens of thousands of his own people as well. Why would the few years he lived in England make him any different? Why would he be any different from Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, who studied in England as well?
Bashar al-Assad blames the aspirations of his people on a foreign conspiracy. The conspiracies inflated into cosmic conspiracies because everyone or anything that goes against him is a conspiracy. He perfected the Dictators 101 pocketbook that expertly plays on the differences, divisions and fears of everyone inside and outside Syria.
The world, humanity to be precise, is watching the Syrian people die while paying the very heavy price of freedom. But humanity is doing nothing, other than talking, to relieve the pain and loses. There is no help coming in the near horizon, and now we've realised it. Syria will be added to the shame list of humanity, after Rwanda, Bosnia, Congo, Darfur and a long list of countries where humanity saw the features of the massacres to come, but unfortunately was too late to prevent them, too late after scalable killing machines claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands.
When the free Syrians were peaceful, they expected the world to be responsible. Syrians didn't expect to be let down by the same humanity who didn't abandon their Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan brothers. Dear so-called humanity, what makes Syrians unworthy of receiving your real support of our aspirations to live in freedom and dignity?
As we enter the second year of our dark and bloody revolution, you may ask where hope comes from. Hope comes from the bravery of the free Syrians, who despite everything the regime does to quell the revolution, still insist on finishing what they started. Syrians show immeasurable generosity and bravery when it comes to sacrifices. They pay the daily cost of tens or hundreds of people's lives who die and leave the mission for the next freedom fighters who carry on, in spite of their full awareness of what's waiting for them. All of that happens while Moscow scores political points against the west.
Although Syrians believe that Assad and his thuggish regime won't go unless they are defeated by military means, they keep the peaceful manifestations of their revolution, while embracing the honoured defectors who refuse to point their guns towards their unarmed civilians, but instead they've embraced their true role of defending their own people.
Hope comes from the gradual spread of the revolution to new villages, towns, neighbourhoods and cities every Friday. Even more people in Aleppo and Damascus are convinced of the fairness of our cause. On the last Friday, many poor neighbourhoods protested against the regime in Aleppo city, while its countryside is inflamed by the revolution.
Hope comes from Syria's revolution capital, Homs. Many times we witnessed, once the shelling stops, Homsis take to the streets to mourn or celebrate their martyrs, and to assert their dissent to the criminal regime.
Hope comes when one year of systematic violence and sectarian provocation passes, and Syrians keep resisting the instinct of sectarian revenge. Syrians showed great deal of restraint, I hope it lasts as long as it should.
Hope comes when Syrians face terror with bravery, oppression with persistence, death with sacrifices, loses with tender, torture with tolerance and disability with challenge.
Assad's regime is overwhelmed by the extraordinary courage of the free Syrians; its resources are stretched thin. Assad is in a dilemma and there is no way out for him. The regime just has to give up power. And we, the free Syrians, will do whatever it takes to open our way to freedom and make sure that Assad and his death gangs are held accountable for what they did to us.
Syria, what a victorious revolution, and what a glorious nation.