News / Middle East

Traumatized Syrians Flee Government Crackdown

Newly-arrived Syrian refugees walk to their tents in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli in Hatay province, as others who are already placed rest in front of their tents (File)
Newly-arrived Syrian refugees walk to their tents in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli in Hatay province, as others who are already placed rest in front of their tents (File)

Multimedia

The Assad government's violent repression of a five-month-old popular uprising is sending thousands of Syrians into Turkey and Lebanon as refugees. Several hundred of them recently sought food and medical assistance at a mosque in northern Lebanon's Wadi Khaled region, a few kilometers from the Syrian border.

It is early afternoon at the Makhtoum mosque near the Syrian border. Lebanese relief workers are distributing aid to refugees who fled the violence in Syria.

Ali Mohamad al-Kurdi, 60, arrived two months ago with just the clothes on his back. Syrian militiamen raided his home. He says they killed and mutilated five young men in his family.

He says he is going to stay here until the regime falls and if the regime doesn't fall then he will kill himself here. He says no one is supporting the uprising, no countries, no nations. So it is better to commit mass suicide together here.

Syria Turmoil


Human rights groups say an estimated 1,700 people have died in the uprising and nearly 3,000 have disappeared. The Syrian government says it is pursuing armed terrorists. Dissidents say the only ones with arms are government troops and their militias.

Abdullah Tassi works with a local donor group, the Bekaa Youth for Development and Free Education. He says there are about 5,000 Syrian refugees in this area. When they first arrived they thought they would stay for just a few days.

“But after days go on and on, now they believe they are going to stay here for a long time. Some of them are trying to mingle with the [local] people and many of them are going to villages far from here,  said Tassi.

A Syrian refugee looks out from a medical tent at a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Yayladagi in Hatay province July 1, 2011
A Syrian refugee looks out from a medical tent at a refugee camp in the Turkish border town of Yayladagi in Hatay province July 1, 2011

A half-dozen women are pressed against the side of a mobile clinic parked near the mosque. From a window a nurse writes down their names and gives them medicine.

Fear-stricken

Medical Assistant Kassim Ayoubi says most of the physical illnesses of the refugees are routine, like the flu. But mentally, he says, these people are traumatized.

He says they are not at all at ease. Mentally they are tired. There's fear, especially fear of being filmed.

Thirty-three year-old Um-Hamza cradles her baby in her arm and covers her face with her shawl. She gives only her first name out of fear.

Um-Hamza fled her home in Homs one month ago because her seven children were terrified. Yet, she remains defiant.

She says with God’s will, we will return because we have a will. We want our freedom. She says we want to live the same as others do. We don't hate anybody but we are persecuted. We want to lift the oppression from us. What if we sacrifice? What if a lot of us die? She says, it is not a problem.

Weakness exposed

An expert on Syria with London's Chatham House, Nadim Shehadi, says the Syrian uprising was a long time coming. This is because a regime that has survived for 40 years, like that of  Bashar al-Assad and his father Hafez al-Assad - does so by not allowing alternatives to emerge. But he says once its weaknesses are exposed it collapses.

"People woke up and realized that they have an alternative to living under a dictatorship of one man and his family and his cronies and having no say in their own future. And once people realize this it's irreversible," said Shehadi. "And no amount of reform can maintain a regime in power once that illusion is broken."

A young man with close-cropped hair has been following the food distribution. He says his name is Hassan al-Hassad and shows his Syrian passport.

He says he was a lieutenant in the Syrian army until one month ago when he defected and snuck across the border.

Syrian dissidents in Beirut confirmed his story was true.

Al-Hassad said several thousand other soldiers have defected from Syrian security forces. Led by a rebel-general based in Turkey, they are organizing a new army.

He says with the help of God, we are gathering together to stand against the oppressor, President Bashar al-Assad, and to support the defenseless Syrian people, in a peaceful way.

As the uprising continues and the repression intensifies, Syrians are calling for more international support, namely sanctions and diplomatic pressure. But they say they do not want foreign military intervention because theirs is to be a non-violent revolution.


Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs