Malek Blacktoviche

Living in Assad’s Syria before the revolution was like living my life in a big prison. But the walls and boundaries were in my thoughts and my dreams.
I was afraid everywhere, because the security forces could arrest me at any time and torture me and even
kill me if I was talking about banned topics.

And those who should be telling the truth, journalists, media and teachers were all corrupted by money and power.

When the revolution came, I was filled with hope.
It was what I had waited for so many years.

I remember my first demonstration. I was so scared.
I could not imagine that I would be able to shout loudly about the frustration I felt. I remember that I took a few steps into the demonstration, and then backed away,
and then dared to rejoin again.
Shouting freely from my heart was so foreign to me.
But I was filled with life, felt alive, as if someone had slept inside me all these years and just woke up. It was as if something inside me began to grow there, like a seed that has been in the dark for many years
who suddenly feel the earth and sun and water.
My heart began to beat and my heart demanded freedom.

Although I knew that I could die in the demonstration,
I knew I had to be there. For the first time I was able
to explain all the feelings and thoughts that had been hidden. For the first time I was able to talk about the ugly truth about Assad’s dictatorship.

That time I was happy and relieved. But I was soon arrested. The Shabeha* came to one of our demonstrations and beat me with sticks. I started bleeding from my head and was taken to a small cell with 14 other young men and the Shabeha started torture us with cables. I was left laying on the ground nearly naked all the night. It was so cold.
Then they cut my hair and humiliated me and talked bad about my family. They left all of us without food for several days and we had to drink water from the toilet to survive. They took me to the confession room and tortured me because i refused to sign a paper saying I was an armed terrorist.

I had to pay a very large sum of money to get released, but I was lucky. Most prisoners never leave Assads prisons alive. Still, this week of arrest was the harshest experience in my life and I wish that no one in this world had to go through this experience.

But I could not stay away from the demonstrations. I had
to be brave, for my dignity, for my country and for my freedom. Our demonstrations and slogans threatened the dictatorship. Our courage was dangerous for the regime.
They tried to build the prison of fear within us again, but now we were alive, our hearts was strong and nothing could make us go back to silence.

Malek Blacktoviche Credit: Yosuf Mousa

Saif-Al Dawlah street is a one kilometer long street in Aleppo. The regime’s snipers are stationed in the high building in the top of this photo, shooting every civilian who cross this street. Too many people have been killed here the last three years. Credit: Malek Blacktoviche

Shortly after this, the military began shooting us. One by one people fell in the demonstrationsand their hearts stopped beating. People died by the hundreds. Soon thousands.
It was after this the opposition started to use weapons do defend the people in the demonstrations.

It is important to remember this. The revolution in Syria was peaceful for a very long time and the people who got killed
in the demonstrations were unarmed. But the silence of the international community and the brutality of this regime forced the opposition to take up arms.

Assad’s forces have continued to kill us since then. Every day the helicopters fly over our houses where we civilians live. Where the schools are located. They are dropping barrels filled with explosives and sharp metal pieces aimed to hurt as many people as possible.

Despite all this, it is better to live in the liberated parts than in the regime areas. For in the liberated areas, we have the freedom to express ourselves and put words to our thoughts and opinions. We can discuss freely. We are alive inside, because we lived in fear for so many years and now is the time to throw away this fear.

I think that the European people should learn more about Syria and Assad’s dictatorship. Not long ago, Europe struggled against dictatorships and fascists who used to burn books and use terror to control people’s thoughts. Now we in Syria are fighting for the same freedom as Europe did 60 years ago.
I hope that the people of Europe support us in our revolution.

In the beginning of the revolution the demonstrations were peaceful and there was never armed people at the protests. After the regime tried to crack down on the demonstrations using heavy weapons and mass arrests, people started to defend themselves. Credit: Malek Blacktoviche

* ”Shabeha” are criminal gangs paid by the regime of al-Assad and the Ba’ath Party to kill, torture and spread fear among civilians in Syria.”

Anton Klepke

Född 1988
Bor: Ständigt i rörelse.
Senaste året i Mörbylånga, Istanbul, Gränby och Mwanza.

Jag har tänkt mycket på skapande och berättande. Berättelsen är en så central del av människans historia. I själva verket är den orala och skrivna berättelsen själva nyckeln till att mänskligheten ens har någon historia att berätta. Därför har jag också svårt att prata om mitt eget skapande, då berättelserna gömmer sig i alla människor. Och berättelserna skapas i möten med andra människor.Jag har fått privilegiet att kunna berätta om den verklighet jag ser. För barn och ungdomar under mina år som lärare. För en internationell läsekrets un der åren som journalist.

Men tillgången till orden är få förunnade. En hel värld saknar fortfarande tillgång till det skrivna ordet pågrund av analfabetism. Och ännu fler människor väljer noggrant varje ord de skriv­ er. Min syriska vän Malek Blacktoviche har sett sina vänner skjutas till döds för ord de valt att säga, eller vägrat att säga. Malek själv har fäng­ slats och torterats av Bashar al-­Assads säkerhet­ stjänst för att han vågat berätta det han sett.

Läs Anton Klepkes intervju här