Eye witness report from HamaMay 13, 2012
This is a translated and (for the sake of clearness) edited eye witness report of a Syrian citizen from Hama. The author of this report has to remain anonymous for security reasons.
I am from Hama and I experienced the 1982 event, as well as the 1964 and 1971 events. Hama is a picture book example of manipulation by various politicians and it has being exploited lately by parts of the Syrian opposition on the grounds of these previous events, it has been exploited and pushed to repeat what happened for the aim of specific interests — regardless of the results.
I have participated in many demonstrations and was engaged in dialogues with many young people. Some of them realized the motives and objectives behind the instigation and the push for escalation, and they insisted that the movement remains peaceful, but some of the political or religious organizations are pushing in another direction.
The cry of freedom that the city Hama uttered and declared, was a just cry caused by a state of anger as a result of corruption, but it became a deformed cry of freedom when religious organizations joined the movement, coming out of mosques, and when the instigators and fabricators relied on a lot of those drug users and criminals which for rewarding fees started demonstrations.
Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt were the “bait” that many of the eager youths completely embraced as a result of a considerable media hype which concentrated on the phrase “youth people are capable of change”. Many political parties and fronts effectively participated in this hype, but the most important of them and the most able to influence the masses of youth is the Muslim Brotherhood, which placed its new allies — intellectuals and leading members of various political groups — in the front of the opposition in a way that they are unable now to distance themselves from the violent escalation. And the fact, according to many impartial observers and commentators, is that the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to repeat their attempts in the last century (mentioned at the beginning of the text) in order to seize control of the authority in Syria.
Without going into many details about what happened until now it has to be stated clearly, that the incitement and escalation in Hama never stopped, and a large amount of instigation and fabrication and lying about shelling houses and random shooting by the army is still going on now, even though it has been proven wrong many times.
The most important thing that’s being focused on is the slander of the name and reputation of the Syrian army, mainly by accusations that its members will destroy, steal, kill, and rape, thereby renewing the memories of the 1982 events and amplifying them in a highly incorrect way. This causes problems for some realists who are used to act and talk with reason and logic.
Despite all rational and calm attempts by the law enforcement forces, which are complying with the instructions and directions that were announced more than once during last year after the state of emergency ended, despite the issuing of the law which guarantees the right to demonstrate and the law about parties and local administrations, despite the withdrawal of security forces from the city center to prevent the police from clashing with protesters, instigation and mobilization operations have escalated and increasingly became sectarian as many police and security members were slaughtered for just being members of a different sect.
We cannot ignore the fact that the longtime mechanisms of suppression and the resulting arrogant attitude of some of the security forces and the law enforcement affected the way of dealing with protestors at the start of the crisis. The complexity of the interests of the groups participating in the opposition together with the presence of individuals carrying weapons and shooting at law enforcement personnel escalated the resentment, and the attempts to arrest weapons bearers caused many cases of unjust harshness in dealing with ordinary protesters, which escalated the tensions on both sides and led to acts of mutual violence.
It is worth noting that the ”Muslim Brotherhood” and other extremist religious organizations used the scheme of placing ordinary young men into the front rows and pushing them to indulge in the protests so that its members could move and act in an unexposed way, hidden from the security forces.
It is further worth noting that, unexpected by the rationalists, many of the opposing intellectuals and leaders of political groups have radicalized their positions and announced their rejection of all issued laws. Some of them altered parts of president Assad’s speeches to cast him in a bad light and they refuse any participation in elections until the overthrown of the regime.
Before Ramadan 2011, the city of Hama was completely under control of armed rebels who formed “revolutionary courts,” slaughtering and killing actions escalated, and the city witnessed the establishment of check points by the armed rebels whom the people of Hama named the “Revolution Shabiha”. The law enforcement personnel interfered from many axis in order to reopen the roads, which resulted in heavy clashes and led to many casualties of law enforcement personal and civilians. The Revolution Shabiha then started burning tires and prevented citizens from leaving the city, and weapons were distributed widely in conjunction with many rumors about what the army will do to the city. Despite all that the government continued distributing flour and fuel to the bakeries and gas stations, continued distributing medicine and first aid materials to the hospitals, and prevented many cases of kidnapping, killing and stealing.
What surprised the citizens and many impelled young people, is the Syrian Army’s noble and committed behavior in dealing with all the citizens in general and presenting martyrs to protect the citizens. I have witnessed personally how three army soldiers put themselves in danger by protection a woman and her daughter when an armed group shot at them. One of the soldiers died and another was injured in this event.
At present there are no heavy military vehicles in the city and the law enforcement personnel at their posts are protecting themselves with sand bags due to their constant exposure to armed attacks.
Citizens are being killed on a daily basis just for the reason that they are cooperating with the security forces and armed attacks against law enforcement services never have stopped, resulting in many killed and injured officers. Other attacks target cars and government buses, resulting in deaths and injuries, not to forget the kidnapping and the threatening of government supporters with killing and slaughter, facilitated by Facebook pages of the so called “Coordination Committees” who named individuals to be attacked by the revolution Shabiha — though they stopped this now as it is not benefiting them in the media.
The people of Hama are currently living in a state of caution and distress because of the masked armed men who appear regularely and suddenly in the streets, shooting randomly to terrorize people and to close schools and markets. People notice non-Syrian armed men among those who call themselves “Rebels”.
Yesterday morning, a colonel and his commissioned officer were assassinated, and when police pursued the perpetrators, it turned out that the rebels had set an ambush and tried to drag the officers into one of the residential areas, forcing the Syrian Arab army to interfere for rescue and for handling the situation. Within a short period of time many masked armed men with machine guns and RPGs showed up in the city’s neighborhoods and markets, firing and forcing people to close their stores. They burned tires and caused a great deal of chaos and panic, then some of them headed to the posts of the law enforcement personnel and attacked them. It turned out that it was meant to prove news reports, that the Syrian army in Hama is shooting randomly and is shelling some areas.
One final word, most of the people of Hama do not accept what’s happening, reject any foreign military intervention, refuse any attempts of outside political pressure or economic sanctions, and are proud about the fact that many politicians and patriots hail from Hama, such as “Saeed A’as”, “Adib Shishakly” who are the symbols of their city as well as “Sheik Mohammad Al-Hamed” and “Bishop Harikeh”.