Sunday, June 25, 2023

Supporting the future of Syria and region: Or not how to exhaust the traumas of the Syrians and Arabs as usual in endless talkathons

Last week, the EU organized the seventh Brussels conference on “Supporting the future of Syria and the region”.

According to the EU’s official website, this conference is made to bring together “civil society from Syria and beyond, decision-makers, and operational partners to engage in dialogue on Syria and the region as well as on its humanitarian and resilience challenges.”

The EU says that the objective of the event is to “ensure continued support to the Syrian people, both in Syria and in the wider region, by mobilizing the international community in support of a comprehensive and credible political solution to the Syria conflict, in line with UN Security Council resolution 2254.”

In other words, it is another bottomless talkathon by the EU to speak about Syria that has not yielded any change realistic that can stop the Syrian ongoing tragedy.

During one of the event's discussion panels, focusing on "Justice and accountability for the Syrian people - current efforts by civil society, international organizations, and national jurisdictions, and the way forward," someone had the guts to speak their mind.

That someone is Wafa Mustafa, a Syrian activist, journalist, and Non-Resident Fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP) and Refugees International.

Wafa Mustafa
Wafa Mustafa holding the photo of her detained father along with the photos of 
other Syrian detainees "Wafa Mustafa"

As the daughter of a Syrian detainee who has been forcibly disappeared since 2013, Mustafa had some strong words for the EU, especially in light of the Syrian government, led by Bashar El-Assad, returning to the League of Arab States and the warm reception he received at the Jeddah summit.

Watch her speaking in that clip shared by Egyptian activist and writer Abdel Rahman El-Gendy “Please read his Washington Post’s Op-ed on his detained friend Ayman Moussa”

“I am not here to convince you that we deserve freedom because we are entitled to freedom. I am here to say how angry, how frustrated, how disappointed, and how unsurprised I am that we have been here since this morning, and we barely heard any conversation about detainees. We barely heard any conversation about normalization and most importantly we barely heard any conversation about a political solution. How come any of us here genuinely believe that an early recovery for Syria could be possible while Assad is still in power?

Are we just here to waste our time!? I have been here for the second time. We have been here for 12 years. You have been exhausting our traumas. You have been exhausting our pain. You have been exhausting our stories. For what!? Nothing has changed.

I am sorry. I am not sorry for anyone. I appreciate the work that many of us have been doing but it is not enough. Assad is the main perpetrator in this country “Syria” and Assad is the reason that I had to flee the country. But Assad was enabled by this entity and by many other states so let’s not pretend that we all care about the recovery of Syria or the humanitarian aid for Syria.

Let’s start by naming unfortunately after 12 years, I have to emphasize that we all know who did it. We all know that Assad is still in power. He is still committing crimes against humanity.

We are talking about hundreds of thousands of detainees, not only those inside detention centers. We are talking about people being detained now while we speak here today by the same person who was being welcomed in Jeddah and who as Noura said, we know that he might be welcomed here one day so I think we need to start by just talking the truth and not fooling each other.”

Here is another part of her word. 

Wafa Mustafa eloquently captured the sentiments of millions of Syrians and Arabs, particularly those from the Arab Spring countries, who wholeheartedly believe in their cause and have a message for the EU at large.

Her words resonate not only with Syrians but also with people across the Arab Spring nations. Our suffering is far from over; we find ourselves drained and frustrated. Exhaustion and anger have consumed us.

Furthermore, her powerful statement asserting that she did not come to persuade the EU that Syrians or Arabs, in general, deserve freedom because it is our inherent right, along with all other fundamental human rights, struck a chord.

I am tired of the EU's hypocritical double standards, endlessly talking about freedoms and human rights while prioritizing nothing but the economic interests of its countries' companies. It's all about profit in a nutshell.

Mustafa's speech, particularly this specific part, went viral on social media, yet it was disregarded by mainstream media. I can't comprehend why the AFP didn't publish it with the same enthusiasm it had when sharing photos of Asmaa El-Assad picking flowers in the springtime!!

On a side note, Wafa Mustafa bears a striking resemblance in looks as well as passion and determination to Egyptian activist and human rights lawyer Mahienour El-Massry.

May Allah bless them both.

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