Leave Us Alone: Views on and from Syria

By following the recent news in the Middle East reflected in the Western and Latvian media one gets really worried about the horrible, anti-human regimes in Arabic countries. I will not try to discuss whether this is due to the media promoted terrifying image of an evil regime, from which the common people are ‘unable to protect themselves’, or due to economic, military or political ambitions of particular Western powers. My point here is to shortly portray the desperation and fear that has been expressed by my Syrian colleagues.

What our media calls peaceful protestors is only one side of the story. According to my informants the protests in Syria did indeed start peacefully and were never met with aggression by the government or the army. However gradually the peaceful protests had turn into armed attacks to the common citizens, religious minorities and the army. Despite these already violent riots the government was still abstaining from the use of military power in order to avoid discussions of the human right violations in the Western media; an attitude which led to a complete chaos in Syria itself. “As a result, people called the government to intervene and protect them; weappealed the government to intervene.”

Seemingly the current fear and angst at least among the biggest part of the Syrian society is not at all related to their own government’s actions (which are mostly seen as an attempt to secure the integrity of the country), but rather to the actions of Western governments (which by part of Syrians is seen as a mere Western attempt to control the Middle East rather than an attempt to protect the Syrian citizens) and the portrayal of the current events by the biased Western media.

Of course, there are two sides of the story. But how to decide, which is the correct one? This is just to say that our attitude to the events that happen very far away, in a country we know very little about and we lack any kind of the first-hand evidence, should be considered with much precaution. There is nothing that can reflect it better than this very ‘uncomfortable’ remark to our ability to draw the line between the good and the bad in our own countries. “It’s said, there’s going to be a protest at the Syrian Embassy in London on the 29th. […] I would never go to protest in front of the British Embassy in my country to express my collaboration and sympathy with the ‘mindless criminals’ (as your media describes them) only because a bunch of UK people told me those are victims. I surely would never do that as I know deep inside I can never tell what’s going on there as the British themselves do, no dignified Syrian would love to do that. Have some respect and leave us alone.”[1]

At the very end I would like to state that the above is not an attempt to condemn or support anyone or even to express a particular opinion about the current events. It is rather just an attempt to sketch the desperation of the ones whose thoughts on the matter are often left unheard in Latvian and crucially in Western societies.

[1] The references have been obtained via online conversations with two of my Syrian colleagues from Damascus

Published 18 October 2011

Author Ilvija Bruģe