Uprisings in Syria Affect IU Students and Families

Posted on September 30, 2011



It was another gorgeous day in Bloomington today, but half a world away, people were not in the squares enjoying the scenery, they were fighting for a freedom Americans often take for granted. Blurry videos from YouTube are the only glimpses we have inside of Syria’s peaceful protests that almost always turn bloody and brutal in a instant.

Courtesy of Tamil Eelam News

The Syrian government is reportedly using tanks and guns on its own people to quash the democratic rebellion. Even worse than the immediate brutality and killings, are the reported kidnappings and torture of innocent civilians. No one can independently verify these claims because journalists are not allowed inside the country right now, but videos all ver the internet seem to piece together quite a grim reality of the situation on the ground.

I sat down with two Syrian-American students who still have family in the country and first-hand knowledge of what’s going on there. We rarely stop and think about just how close these “foreign” conflicts actually are. These grainy images in videos being massacred cold be our neighbors, friends, classmates, or family members.

“There’s pretty much gunfire and explosions non-stop,” Amal Akbik, a Syrian-American IU student, said. She talks to family members when she can about the progress of the uprisings. “When they hear the gunshots, my family has told me they’ll go hide in a bathroom or hallway. And when they come out they find bullet holes in their walls sometimes.,” Akbik said.

Rafah Safi, another Syrian-American student with family there, said the brutality is unimaginable, “It’s very painful to be able to see something like that.” “Such a horrific thing, to be able to beat somebody up to where they’re bleeding, they’re crying for them to stop, yet they continue to do it,” Safi said.

Courtesy of DPA

Even with all of that, the protests continue and people remain hopeful that their loved ones are not dying in vain. “It’s inspiring to see that despite the fact that they know those risks are out there, despite the fact that they know if they are in a fight as protestors and they are identified their family may be hurt and they may be taken as a political prisoner; they continue to go out there, they continue to fight for those rights that they are deprived of,” Safi said.

“At this point, they’re willing to die for freedom,” Akbik said.

The cost of this conflict is increasing by the day, but for the people who are fighting for their basic freedoms, they believe it will be worth it.

Courtesy of Supply Chain Digital

(Feature Image Courtesy of Syria Revolt)

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