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Dr Inssaf Hamad testifies at IDC's Side Event on Geneva

Date de publication: 16.06.2016

Dr Inssaf Hamad speaking at IDC's Side Event at the UN in Geneva on 16 June 2016

(For a short video of the Side Event, click here.)


The Untold Story about the War in Syria

Dr. Inssaf Hamad,

IDC Side Event on Syria,

UN Geneva,

16 June 2016


Ladies and Gentlemen,

What I am going to tell you today may be shocking to you, because it will be different from what you have been used to hear about the ongoing war in Syria over the last five years. You have been hearing the same one-sided narrative with endless lies, misinformation, misleading and exaggeration. You may think that it is too late to hear the untold story of the war in Syria, a story that has been ignored and censored for too long, but I can say to you: it is better late than never.

I was born to a very poor family in Syria. The laws of my country that provide free education for all with no discrimination whatsoever have granted me the opportunity to get free education from primary level until I got my Ph.D. It was by virtue of my country's laws that I have become a University professor specialized in philosophy. Today, and despite the terrible war in Syria, free education is still available for all Syrians.

As a young woman, I have suffered from a killing disease that endangered my life, but the free medical treatment available in my country have saved my life, as it has, and is still saving the lives of many Syrians until today despite the ongoing war. Syrians can until now get the necessary health care and medical treatment for free, from the simplest disease to the most complicated ones.

As a Syrian woman, I have been active in public affairs and women's rights. I have never been constrained in this: the Syrian civil laws have granted me equal rights as those granted to my male colleagues: the right to education, employment, and equal pay; in addition to the right to participation in cultural and political life, whereby the Syrian women have since 1950s had the right to run for elections. Despite the fact that there were some adopted laws based on Islamic Shari'a_ that involved a kind of discrimination against women, and that Syrian women have always struggled to reform _ I have never been deprived of practicing all my rights and reaching high political positions. Syrian laws have never prevented women like me from reaching to high positions like, vice-president,  speaker of parliament,  a minister, or a member of parliament; nor have the Syrian laws ever stopped women from being represented in the diplomatic and judiciary circles, or in other decision-making positions. In fact, Syrian women have been much more represented in political life than their western counterparts. This is not unexpected when Syria before the war has come so close to achieving the third millennium development goals in education and health; so before it has been hit by terrorism and the forces of darkness that brought it 50 years back and that undermined the development achieved over many years of hard work.

What I said until now is only the bright side of my story which is the story of many Syrian women like me. However, the painful side of my story, which is also that of many other Syrian women, is related to the war.  The war in Syria deprived me of my only son, "Khodr",  who was only 20 years old,  a second year student in the Faculty of Medical Engineering. My son was killed in the first year of the war in Syria in 2011, when one of his colleagues shot him with four other of his colleagues; two of the young men died, my son Khodr, and his colleague "Hussain" , the other three young men, George, Pierre, and Sultan, were severely injured but they survived.

It was extremely devastating to lose my only son, who was a young man who was full of life. I was looking forward to seeing him graduate and become an engineer I could be proud of. But it was more devastating for me that my son was killed not while fighting in a battle, but was killed in the exam room in the university, holding pen and paper not a rifle nor a gun. I was so painful for me to know that my son was killed by no other but his own colleague at the university, and killed for his different political opinion. My son Khodr and his friends were members in the student union and were pro-government, and with the president, while the young man who killed him was from the opposition and was anti-government.

What was even more shocking in all of this was how those that the West calls "revolutionaries" who claim to be fighting for freedom and dignity have condoned and justified the crime. They have cheered the crime on their Facebook pages, and they congratulated the killer calling him "the hero who kills Shabiha" (the word they use for pro-government Syrians). In a TV interview in a program called "Frontlines", the murderer, who joined the Free Army or the so called "moderate opposition",  bragged about having killed my son, and said that he did not regret it, and that had he had more time, he would have killed others in the university.

More shocking still, were the flagrant lies posted on social media to justify the crime; one such lie was an allegation that Khodr's father, my husband, was an army officer, and that he has killed 150 members of the murderer's family. This is of course not true at all: KHodr's father was an army signal officer who has retired since 2000, 11 years before the incident. Another lie was saying that my son Khodr deserved to be killed because he was "shabih', and that his mother, myself of course, was also "Shabiha".  The name "Shabih", ladies and gentlemen, in their opinion means not only to be pro-government or pro-president, but also to be simply against their opinion. Nevertheless, in the condolence ceremony I held in tribute of my son, and despite all the threats I received from them,  I declared that I forgive the killer of my son if this will contribute in stopping further bloodshed in Syria.

Syrian university students and professors suffered from the terrorist actions of these armed opposition groups who used to force both teachers and students to go on strike or boycott the educational institutions. The armed groups would even threaten anyone who did not comply with the boycott, and would list him/her in the so called "shame lists" as a kind of "death warrant". The armed opposition groups would even fabricate lies about having been attacked by security personnel, or pro-government students; they would prepare fabricated videos and send them to satellite TV channels to broadcast as part of the massive misinformation media campaign that has been one of the arms of war on Syria, as is the case with Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya TV channels. The media campaign of lies, misinformation, misleading and distortion of the truth about what is happening in Syria has reached a scale unprecedented in modern history.

Has anyone amongst you here today heard that the incident of the children of Dara'a has proved to be only an allegation_ the children of Dara'a who, it was claimed, were tortured and had their nails extracted? That the whole story was a fabrication has been confirmed lately by no other but pro-opposition Palestinian author Azmi Bishara in the last book he wrote about the Syrian War.

Has anyone here today also heard of the atrocities committed in the city of Adra in the winter of 2013? The so called "moderate" armed groups supported and financed by the civilized West, not ISIS nor Al Nusra, have burnt citizens in ovens, among them children; they have beheaded many people, and killed others by throwing them down from up the roofs of buildings; they have kidnapped and detained women and children for sectarian reasons, or because of their political opinion, or even just for being public employees who refused to quit their jobs to join the opposition:  according to the armed groups, of course, any public employee who is still in his job deserves to be killed, and the residents of the city of Adra in rural Damascus are all workers in public sectors.

Have you also heard about hundreds of kidnapped and detained women who the armed men of "Jaish Al Islam" in Duma have put in cages over the roofs of buildings to use them as human shields against the air bombardment of armed groups strongholds there?

Have you heard of the 16 villages in Lattakia that were invaded by armed groups, among them, the Free Syrian Army and "Ahrar Al Sham", the so called "moderate opposition according to the West, where many inhabitants were killed, and many other abducted and are still missing? You have certainly not heard of the many women of these villages who were brutally killed and mutilated: armed men mutilated these women's nipples and threaded them into necklaces;  they slaughtered pregnant women in these villages by slitting their wombs to extract their fetuses and hang them on trees;  heads were mutilated and made into footballs to play with. All these atrocities have been committed in Rural Lattakia while the civilized world nevertheless, still refuses to put these armed groups on terrorist lists, and insists on calling them "moderate" opposition, and even on supporting them with arms, money, media and political campaigns.

The hardest and most agonizing part of the untold story about the war on Syria is yet to come: the so called "economic sanctions" or the economic unilateral measures that were imposed on Syria by the civilized West, and by some Arab countries; measures that have, on top of the atrocious war, pushed more than 80% of the Syrian population below the poverty line. Do you have any idea, ladies and gentlemen, that these unilateral measures have included a boycott on the Syrian government's oil exports, which are a major public budget income used to spend on health, education, and infra-structure services; these unilateral measures on oil exports have been lifted on Syrian oil as soon as the oil fields were seized by the armed groups (mostly by ISIS). As a result of these unilateral measures, thousands of infants and new- born babies died in incubators, and thousands of patients died in operating rooms, and in ambulances exported from Europe, because Europe refused to give Syria the needed replacement parts for hospital machines since the Syrian government cannot pay their cost because of sanctions against Syrian bank transfers.

Have you also heard, ladies and gentlemen about thousands  of cancer patients and other chronic diseases patients who died because of the unilateral measures against Syria that have made it impossible for the Syrian government to import medicines to treat them, and because of the fact that some patients had to use medicines smuggled from Turkey that do not conform to the safety specification or are expired?

Have you heard of the women who have decided not to have children, or who have had abortions because of poverty? This is happening not in the besieged areas that the West focuses upon in the media, but it is happening all over Syria which is entirely besieged by unilateral measures on the one hand, and by the armed groups who have destroyed its infrastructure, factories and resources on the other hand.

Let us ask ourselves, ladies and gentlemen, why more than 7 million Syrians  have left the areas that the armed groups have captured (I say the armed groups, not ISIS nor Al Nusra)? Why have they left and fled to areas under government control that have become overpopulated with more than 16 million people? Isn't this in itself an evidence that they feel safe there in these areas under government's control?

The armed groups in the areas under their control confiscate the humanitarian assistance provided by the government and humanitarian agencies to sell it back to the people at very high prices. They forbid the civilians from leaving the areas because they want them to stay to act as human shields. If they ever allow anyone to leave for any reason, they hold the rest of his family members hostages to force him to come back, and they kill them if he doesn't.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There are endless untold stories, voices you have not heard in this war in Syria, but time does not allow me to convey them to you to hear the real story. Allow me at least to ask you here today: do your governments allow the opposition to hold arms and wage a war in your countries? If the opposition movements in your countries hold arms, can they still be called "opposition' as the West is currently doing by calling the armed groups in Syria "opposition'?

If we really want to give the political solution a chance in Syria, we should all seek to stop support of terrorism, and to hold to account those who support it according to Security Council resolutions. We should all seek to stop the flow of terrorists into my country; we should also seek to lift the economic unilateral measures and sanctions against Syria to give Syrians a new opportunity for life. Give Syrians some hope.


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