Voices From Syria

United Nations, New York Headquarters, 17 January 2014

During “Voices From Syria,” hosted by the Permanent Mission of Norway, three refugees from Syria spoke about their experiences during the current Syrian Civil War.  Mr. Knut Langeland the Norwegian Minister Counselor on Political Affairs, Disarmament, and the Security Council moderated.

Mr. Anas al-Dabas, a pharmacist from Darayya, Syria recounted how men from his town were pulled out into the street and humiliated by soldiers from the Assad regime.  Fifteen-second interrogations were deemed sufficient by the soldiers to establish the men as innocent or guilty, the later being punishable by death. Mr. al-Dabas explained that his neighbor, who narrowly survived the attack himself, showed him a basement in which 70 civilians were massacred.  Throughout the rest of the town more than 1,000 civilians had been killed by the Assad regime.

(A picture taken on January 19th of activists saving a young girl after her parents were killed in an air strike by a group loyal to President Assad in Allepo. The National. Picture: Mahmoud Hebbo)

Following this account, two cousins, Ms. Amineh Sawan and Ms. Hiba Sawan from Moadamiya, Syria detailed their experiences.  Feeling lightheaded, Amineh Sawan and her cousin rushed to a field clinic the day that the Assad regime deployed chemical weapons in late August 2013.  Upon their arrival, the pair sought to aid other victims by administering CPR.  Amineh Sawan recalled seeing other victims who had become paralyzed or twitched uncontrollably as result of the sarin gas. Hiba Sawan described how citizens of Moadamiya faced shelling and sniper fire at all times.  She recounted that the Assad regime deployed a strategy of “surrender or starve,” in which all access into and out of the area was cut-off.  

Mr. Langeland opened the floor to questions.  When asked about the future of Syria, all three refugees expressed concern about under education and the lack of hope for the their generation of young adults and teens. In closing, the refugees were asked whom they held accountable for these atrocities beyond the Assad regime. While Mr. al-Dabas looked at the inaction of the UN and the Unites States, Ms. Amineh Sawan and Ms. Hiba Sawan were more concerned about China, Russia, India, and other allies of Assad. All three Syrian refugees pled for their countries freedom, asking the world to stop clumping Syria with the external conflicts of Iran and Israel, and to focus on getting the current regime out of power so peace can be possible. 

Written by WIT intern: Katherine King

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