In his third letter to his kidnapped wife Samira, Yassin al-Haj Saleh expresses deep dissatisfaction with unfaithful allegedly revolutionary figures who showed little or no interest in the cause of Douma4
Even it were possible for you to imagine our deteriorating situation, you may still be wondering, Sammour, how come you are still disappeared for more than three years, seven months and twenty days, and you know that we have friends and contacts close to official opposition, if not part of it, who are influential and well-connected. I don’t like to talk about this topic, but needs must.
In fact all the opposition groups you know issued public statements when the four of you were kidnapped, but that was almost everything they have done. Apparently, some prominent politicians contacted influential regional powers such as the Foreign Minister of Qatar, who spoke to Zahran Alloush –who was and still is the main suspect and the de facto authority in Douma– but without exerting any real pressure on them or following up on the case since then. Unfortunately, our well-known and influential friends didn’t follow the case, say a word about it, issue a statement, try to mobilize more pressures, write articles nor offer any help to me or the families of Razan, Wael and Nazim. I’m ashamed to admit this to you, Sammour. I don’t want to give names nor details, but they are numerous.
You don’t understand why? I find it difficult to understand too, but I believe there are two or three reasons. It seems to me that those old friends are concerned with themselves, their connections and careers in the first place; most of them didn’t seem to have achieved anything to earn personal influence and credibility, whether on the personal or the public level. Second, it’s all about politics and political interests! Who is who, who is with whom, and with whom the relationship may be beneficial and with whom it may not. We don’t have money, authority or connections. Therefore, Sammour, we are of little use to those who are looking for benefits. At the same time, we (meaning the four of you, me, and our friends and partners) cannot be controlled, we don’t depend on anyone, we aren’t sponsored by anyone, and we don’t bow down to anyone. This makes us like an unpleasant memory from a bygone era in the eyes of the new “VIPs”; or at least, we are seen as people who better be avoided by the controlled, “rational” and disciplined. Third, I can’t help but say that many of our alleged partners have showed a level of insensitivity and lack of humanity far beyond my expectations. Sammour, I’m ashamed to write that some of the people you know haven’t even sent an email to express solidarity or inquire about further news about you. I’m ashamed because, at least, this makes me look naïve. Lastly, I would add a fourth reason: stupidity. Regardless of their personal and political interests, they could have earned themselves some legitimacy and independence had they given your case the attention it deserves; they could’ve appealed to a more diverse and broader spectrum of revolutionaries who found themselves unrepresented by the bodies established on their behalf; they could have gained a stronger leverage on groups and forces they seem unable to boycott – only with great difficulty can one understand why they can’t boycott those groups, but how can we understand why they can’t criticize them, distance themselves from them or protest against them? Not only did they not help us, they didn’t help themselves. This shows sheer mediocrity in understanding, imagination and political competence. Our honorable opportunists are slow-witted.
I will give you an example. More than a year ago, I encountered an important person you know; and he knows you and me all too well. He met with Zahran Alloush when the latter was in Turkey in April and May of 2015, but he didn’t utter a word about your case during the meeting. I was cold with him and he felt this. “We can’t do anything,” he justified himself. I told him that this wasn’t true; they could and they still can do many things. This important person who “can’t do anything” recently occupied an important position in the Syrian National Coalition (Etilaf) – I’m speechless. Those who “can’t do anything” should stay at home instead of occupying supposedly public-service positions. The can’t-do-anything claim would otherwise cover for a bias against us as well as low and selfish interests to please criminal powerful forces at the expense of democratic powerless activists.
Speaking of “we can’t do anything”, Sammour, I think that the aspirations and connections of these people have really limited their imagination. They “no longer can” imagine the possibility of organizing protests, participating in the events we organized, supporting art projects or launching humanitarian initiatives on some occasion (such as the anniversary of the revolution or of your abduction). They “no longer can” imagine the possibility of raising your pictures [in solidarity] in some meeting, not to mention the possibility of boycotting Jaysh al-Islam, publishing a booklet about their violations in Eastern Ghouta, or starting a major initiative in support of your cause.
Before being an unforgivable betrayal of you, Razan, Wael and Nazem, this is a betrayal of the Syrian Revolution and its values. The Revolution of the unknown and the insignificant.
Unforgivable. In almost 44 months, I haven’t found any mitigating reasons to help me understand and forgive.
The aforementioned example is only one of many, which I will tell you about when you return, but it exposes a deep problem with the traditional opposition from which you and I come, Sammour. They are in a different place from the revolution; they are not close to those who have been detained, tortured and killed; or those who have been kidnapped, disappeared and displaced; or those who live in tents inside and outside Syria.
It isn’t out of pacification that I avoid mentioning names and details (in fact I’ve become less pacifiable than I used to be), but I don’t want to reduce our cause to personalized victimhood, accusations and justifications. You, Razan, Weal and Nazim are fighting the most cruel and noble battle. Like you, I –the survivor– am trying to fight a similar battle that honors your cause. I say it once more, they are in a different dishonorable place, too far from being friends or partners.
Sammour, as the saying goes, the glass is half full. Many participate in the work for your freedom; many friends, some of them you know and expect to participate, and others you don’t know; many of them are not even Syrian, some of them I don’t know in person too. In spite of everything we are not alone, Sammour. What we have in common with our partners is that we don’t have powers and connections, but we do work to achieve justice for ourselves and others in this decadent world. Many people from many places ask me about you; they follow your case and feel that they know you. That gives me strength; I hope it reaches and strengthens you too. I hope it reaches Razan, Wael and Nazem, and strengthens them as well.
We are not alone, Sammour.
Today, like always, we continue to work for your freedom, Sammour. We will not give up. I hope that we have created a strong cause, and I also hope that we can translate its moral strength to legal and political strength.
And in the meantime I only beg you to take care of yourself. I wish patience and determination be on our side until you return soon.