On 8 December EED in cooperation with Action Syrie hosted a discussion with a leading Syrian political dissident and writer Yassin al-Haj Saleh on his new book “La Question syrienne”.
Moderated by historian Farouk Mardam Bey, the conversation touched upon issues surrounding the devastating Syrian conflict.
Struggles for Syria
Often referred to as the “conscience of the Syrian revolution”, Yassin al-Haj Saleh has experienced the ire of Assad’s regime first-hand. At the age of 19, al-Haj Saleh was convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison sentence of 16 years for his membership in a communist organisation opposing the regime of Hafez Assad.
Living in Damascus in 2011 when Syrians rose up to demand political reform, al-Haj Saleh became one of the prominent intellectual voices of the uprising. The peaceful protest against Assad regime soon transformed into a revolution after the government forces began to employ violence to supress the uprising.
Despite his earlier painful experience of challenging the regime, Al-Haj Saleh joined the revolt without hesitation. While he was forced into hiding and eventually fled the country in 2013, his wife and brother were abducted; their fate remains unknown to this day.
Al-Jumhuriya Collective – space for free expression
Al-Haj Saleh is also founding member of an EED-supported alternative media group Al- Jumhuriya. Speaking about the organisation, he noted that “The concept was initiated on the first anniversary of the [Syrian] revolution in 2012. We felt that people needed a platform offering in-depth analysis of different subjects.”
“We are not fighters, we are not journalists, we are not politicians. We are writers – authors, intellectuals, critics, writing on political, social and cultural subjects. This is a pioneering initiative establishing a space for people to express their views without any affiliation to any party. It is a place for debate.” said al-Haj Saleh.
Three phases of the revolution
During the event, al-Haj Saleh examined three phases of the Syrian revolution. He also underlined that, initially, Syrian people were harbouring hope of not being left alone to be crushed by the Syrian regime – a wish that has regrettably failed to materialise.