One Year on, My Neighbourhood Destroyed, My Life Torn Apart

I am broken because I am outside watching my family, my friends and my city Homs be ripped apart through shelling, theft of homes, rape and murder. In the last two weeks I have had many from my small village executed or arrested. Some tortured in wedding halls while others were blown up once gathered in a home.

The Syrian uprising. What was once a distant thought, is now reality.

Every revolution so far has celebrated its one year anniversary with freedom from a brutal dictator or entire dictatorship, except Syria and Bahrain. I am a Syrian female living in Britain. I was born in the UK however spent every summer and some winters in Damascus and Homs. I am from two neighbouring areas, Jobar and Baba Amr in Homs. Both are now ghost towns with executed bodies being recovered daily and outlines of what used to be homes present through the smoke.

Let me tell you about my life, I am a Syrian activist who has been involved in the revolution since April 2011. My main work began from August 2011 and it was with the Baba Amr media team as it began to establish itself while also being ready to support other groups around Homs. I am a student with my entire extended family living in Syria. It has been a year of mixed emotions. But 12 months on I can conclude three emotions: exhausted, broken and offended.

I am exhausted because working for this revolution is a heavy responsibility. When those inside being bombed and losing everything place their trust in you as their voice, you must work tirelessly to get their voices out. They trust you with their names, accounts, backgrounds and information. I worked with the Baba Amr media team office, where foreign journalists slept, as one of their English translators and media connections and I knew some of those sleeping there personally. I worked with them until they were pushed out recently as the regime bombarded the neighborhood for 27 consecutive days; I lost a relative in the process of them fleeing. I've also worked with other areas in Homs from Karam Alzaytoon, Bab Sba, Insha at, Jobar, Alrastan and Bab Dreib. I am honoured to be a part of the Syrian revolution, especially the Homs revolution as it is a duty on me until this brutal regime is toppled to help in every way possible, even if my education suffers.

I am broken because I am outside watching my family, my friends and my city Homs be ripped apart through shelling, theft of homes, rape and murder. In the last two weeks I have had many from my small village executed or arrested. Some tortured in wedding halls while others were blown up once gathered in a home. Women from my village were raped as men were locked in separate rooms only to hear their screams. These are personal stories, not ones from the media. This is why being outside makes things much harder as I can only hear and watch. I read the martyrs list daily analysing if one of my relatives has died. I watch videos of bodies returned tortured or executed closely observing do I know them or not. I have forgotten how to sleep properly because on most nights I stay awake translating what is taking place from bombing to executions, stay up training an activist on how to pronounce certain words when he speaks to media in English the next day, or translating daily reports. Yet after all this, I will then return to my bed - warm, safe and sound. While, in Homs, may never come online again...dead.

Finally I am offended because of the world's response. It is a deafening silence, though there are words, but it is like screaming into a vacuum. The words are meaningless the promises are empty. International governments keep mentioning the Assad regime has lost legitimacy and must step down, however their officials still meet and discuss with this criminal regime? The governments discuss how to get humanitarian aid into starving Homs, this is like saying a volcano has erupted and we are trying to keep families living under the lava but we panic to find a way to provide some kind of shelter over their heads instead of evacuating them and dealing with the volcano. We must deal with the route of the problem, Bashar Al-Assad, before running to correct his mistakes. Why have the Assad regime criminals not been passed onto the international criminal court? What more needs to be committed? What more evidence is required as videos flood Youtube, eyewitnesses fill Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. Foreign journalists carry stories of crimes against humanity being committed. Foreign doctors also hold testimonies to the war crimes inside Syria. The international governments keep issuing sanctions. The more you corner a criminal the more violent he becomes, as has been seen in recent weeks.

We are now approaching one year since the Syrian uprising officially began, 15 March 2011, with thousands killed, missing, detained and refugees. Syrians fled from various areas such as Homs, Idlib, Jisr Alshughoor, Lattakia and are distributed across Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey with yet no help from the UN. Torture in prisons and hospitals has been documented through eyewitnesses, doctors and videos showing horrific methods used by the regime. Foreign media remains prohibited to practice freely inside Syria unless they are smuggled in through illegal borders. This has seen some die, for example dear Marie Colvin and brave Remi Ochlik, with the likes of Paul Conroy being injured. Humanitarian aid remains impossible unless smuggled which has led to many activists being caught, tortured and killed. The civilians, including some I know personally, confirmed to me the videos that reached, showing civilians eating plants to stay alive and collecting snow for water.

International protection of civilians inside Syria has failed. The UN, Arab League, Arab world and the west have failed the Syrian people. We do not want your meetings and words. We want action. We have had enough of the several chances provided by the world on a gold platter to the Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad. Each meeting, for example just recently with Kofi Anaan, is another green light for the dictator to keep killing as was seen with the 56 executed in Karam Alzaytoon in Homs as they tried to flee just a few nights ago.


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