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Razan and Ghiath

two Righteous from Syria

Ghiath Matar

Ghiath Matar

All dictatorships murder in silence. They do not want to create symbols, or heroes. Despite this, some tales resurface from regime censorship. It is important to tell them to the highest number of people to set an example, and orove that extraordinary deeds come from ordinary people who have made a choice: not to remain silent in the face of cruelty. My thought goes to Syria, a forgotteb country. From the tragedy of a massacre that is unable to spark the world’s outrage, two extraordinary examples enlighten my thoughts. 

Two figures, a man and a woman, are the personification of righteousness. Their civil commitment, their choice to keep on struggling for pacifism despite the war and hatred, are a source of inspiration for me, and I hope they can be for you, as well. Ghiath Matar was a 26 years old guy born and brought up in Daraya, a suburb of Damascus. In March 2011, as soon as the Revolution broke out, like millions Syrian men and women he chose to take to the streets and demostrate against the regime, demanding “Dignity, freedom and equal rights”. He joined the pacifist movement, which was then very strong. He started distributing water and flowers to the loyalist soldiers who had the task to crack down on protesters. He believed, he was sure, that those soldiers who had come to massacred demonstrators could rediscover their brotherhood and listen to their conscience thanks to his gesture. 

Several Syrian pacifists started copying Ghiath Matar’s gesture. In Daraya and other towns, people gave soldiers flowers and water. It was something unreal. The Syrian security service learnt about these events. They set up an exemplary punishment. On 6 September 2011, Ghiath Matar was arrested with Yahya Shurbaji – exponent of the paficist movement, who is still in jail. Four days later, Ghiath Matar’s body was delivered back to his family. The security agents put his corpse before his relatives’ door and said: “Make meat for shawarma out of this”.

Ghiath left a pregnant wife. 

Matar left an important heritage to the young Syrians, a legacy which gains more and more significance as war takes its toll of hundreds victims a day while the world remains silent. Maybe, in the future, his example will inspire the youths who will have the task to build tomorrow Syria and undertake the path to reconciliation.

Razan Zaitouneh, a 37 years old lawyer, was kidnapped in December 2013 for her commitment.

Razan documented the violations of human rights in Syria on behalf of the Local Coordination Committees: she recovered the names and the faces of the Syrian dead. Thanks to her we learnt how many people died every day in Syria (since her abduction the United Nations has ceased the body count). Since 2005, Razan had started to document human rights violations and had joined the “Committee of support for the families of political prisoners in Syria”. As the Revolution broke out in 2011, whe was one of the founders of the Local Coordination Committees. Because of her activism her husband was arrested by the Syrian secret service and she was compelled to live in hiding. 

Razan is a woman I admire and who is unfortunately still too little known. 

I believe remembering Razan and Ghiath as Righteous people i san important step to recognize the value of two figures who, in the darkness of oppression and indifference, have been able to spark a flicker of hope and have taught a lot to the Syrian people.

Shady Hamadi, Syrian writer and activist

Analysis by Shady Hamadi, Syrian writer and activist

17 February 2014

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