“The Syrian Revolution: A Cry for Social Justice”

Mouna Algahaithi, Managing Editor

On Aug. 18, the horrifying footage of bloodied and shocked 5-year-old Omar Daqneesh, a young Syrian boy who was rescued from an airstrike that destroyed his family’s home, filled the news feed of many. The same day, over 25 local Madisonians gathered at the Madison Public Library to listen to Dr. Hussein Amach.

Dr. Hussein Amach, a victim of the Syrian crisis and an economist, delivered an hour-long presentation called “The Syrian Revolution: A Call for Dignity and Social Justice”. Amach gave a brief history of the country’s oppression under the dictatorship of both Hafez al-Assad who ruled the country from 1971 to 2000) and his son, Bashar al-Assad who has ruled since his father’s death.

Arguing that the continuing war taking place is not a civil one, but rather an opposition from the people who are demanding dignity and the basic human rights that they are denied, Amach said.

“There is no North versus South Syria. It’s not religious versus secular. It is simply people versus dictator,” Amach said.

According to Amach, Syrians have been revolting against the dictatorship since 1980, when the first uprising was held. The Arab Spring of 2011 gave Syrians another wave of hope for overthrowing the President, in search of a pro-democracy leader. Moderator David Williams argued that what’s occurring in Syria today is the largest humanitarian and refugee crisis since the Second World War. According to Amnesty International, 50% of the Syrian population is displaced, with over 4.5 million refugees counted. The United Nations announced that they have stopped counting the death toll, but other agencies such as the Syrian Centre for Policy Research estimate the toll to be around half a million.

Amach stated that the current President, “is not willing to compromise- he has been using excessive force from the beginning, just like his father,” Amach stated, giving examples of brutal stories involving Assad’s notorious secret police. Noting that for every four to ten citizens, there was one informant, illustrating the lack of freedom felt by many Syrians.

Amach explained that in the case for Syria, it is no longer a call for help, but a cry for dignity and social justice. He painted the image of creating a Syria that would allow the citizens to stay in their homes and not flee for fear of death, where the unemployment rate doesn’t exceed 25%, where an image of a bloodied 5-year-old or a the washed up body of a 4-year-old refugee are no longer a “symbol of the thousands killed everyday”.
Nearing the end of the presentation, Amach asked the attendees to write to the President of the United States to encourage the U.S and Western nations to intervene.

In addition to writing letters and signing petitions, donations could be made to the Syrian American Medical Society to help with dire medical support. One could also join the local Madison community called Open Doors for Refugees and participate in their events, such as community picnics and fundraisers.

The presentation was sponsored by a local political activist group called The Peregrine Forum. Coordinator David Williams created the forum as a radical left-wing group upon moving to Madison from Chicago in 2004. Since then, Williams has sponsored study groups, debates, film screenings, and presentations, calling it “adult remedial public education”. The purpose of the Peregrine Forum is to focus on current events while also understanding and discussing historical issues.

There are monthly forums hosted at the Madison Public Library, 201 W. Mifflin Street, with an upcoming 3-month series titled “2016 Elections & Beyond: The Future of the Right & the Left”, with the first discussion on Sept. 8. For more information, call David Williams at 608-284-9082, or email at [email protected]