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

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid