I Stand #WithSyria
As the Middle East and North Africa program assistant at Physicians for Human Rights, I have the opportunity to work with Syrian doctors practicing medicine and documenting human rights violations both inside and outside of Syria. Unfortunately, as a Syrian American, the stress of my work never escapes me. I am constantly surrounded by the heart-wrenching cries of loved ones over Skype and the sounds of the television streaming Syrian news all day, while always having the uneasy feeling of never knowing when someone I love will be gone.
For the past three years, I have watched my people in Syria experience some of the worst human rights violations in history. I have watched a president prioritize his own power over his people. I have watched the Assad regime manipulate minorities into believing that the only alternatives to the current regime are persecution or expulsion from their country. I have watched extremists gain leverage in Syria due to the inaction of the international community. Major global players have forced many Syrians to believe that victims of the conflict are viewed as nothing more than numbers.
Death, destruction, rape, torture, starvation, and suffering have become daily occurrences in Syria. Mothers now have to worry about sending their children to school, fearing they will never return. Children have lost their innocence too early due to the horrors of war. The tragedies of this war have subjected an entire population to extreme psychological trauma.
Whether in-country or abroad, I know of no Syrians untouched by this conflict. We have all lost relatives, friends, acquaintances, homes, and cities. We have all experienced the excruciating pain of watching our homeland crumble before our eyes. I reached a point in my frustration where I thought, RIP to the Syria I once knew – the Syria that holds my heart.
And in spite of this tragedy and continuing dangers, brave doctors inside the country continue to serve their people, abiding by medical neutrality – the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of armed conflict and civil unrest – and adhering to their ethical and professional dedication to helping people through medicine. It is their strength that gives me hope for a better Syria to come. I have never been more proud to be Syrian than I have in the past three years, and I am honored to call these doctors leaders, heroes, and brethren. I, as a Syrian Christian, am proud to stand #WithSyria today – three years later – to fight for freedom, liberty, dignity, and human rights for all.