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You will not get peace even if you are dead

I have seen nothing, I have seen all
Regissør: Yaser Kassab
(Syria)

THE ESCAPE FROM SYRIA: Yaser Kassab (31) is stuck in a gray suburb of Sweden.

(PS. This article is machine-translated from Norwegian)

"[And your new movie] will be judgmental?"
"No not really."
"So what's your goal?"
«I just thought that… Now that the winner won…»
'As long as you ask why?, you criticize. "
"Is it a problem?"
"It's not rational to criticize."
"What do you mean?"
"We have no right to criticize."

This is the conversation the filmmaker and main character has with his father on the phone. It could have been the voice of any acid in the phone with whom it should be. He says "the winner", just saying "Assad" can get you in trouble. This is how peace looks in Syria.

Government, not regime. After more than 500 deaths, 000 million refugees, 6 million internally displaced people and reconstruction costs estimated at up to $ 7 billion, you can still not write the "Assad regime". In Rome, London, New York and other Western media centers, editors are replacing it with the "Assad government." For the world, Assad is Syria's legitimate president, but he certainly is not for the Syrians, who are either dead, have left or are silent.

Denied the dead

Those of us who have experienced the war – and still do today – can sometimes confuse random passers-by with friends who were killed many years ago. Talking about Syria is not easy. It has never been, to be honest. For the left – the left that would support the Arab Spring, the Syrian Revolution and the aftermath – instead took more or less an open party to Assad, an enemy of Israel and the United States, and therefore a friend. For several years, the left side completely overlooked the war, until Russia came in with relentless air strikes and propaganda infantry. Anyone who opposed Assad was accused of belonging to Al Qaeda. Also, the White helmets, the organization that, with bare hands and in the light of lighters, dug out damaged from the ruins. Even six-year-old Bana al-Abed, who tweeted from Aleppo with his mother, was accused of being in Turkey. In connection with every photo, every body, we were told: It is a doll. It is staged. First they denied the dead, then denied that they had existed at all.

Only those who commit not to oppose the government,
will be allowed to return.

While we were bombed, bombed, and bombed by Assad and the jihadists, Syria was no different to the world. Yet the country has countless Yaser Kassab's – engineers, doctors, lawyers, business people, filmmakers – ordinary Syrians. Acid like us. As I have said to each other for several years: Now we have seen everything. So, when fire from bombers was replaced by missiles, missiles replaced by fighters, fighters replaced by gas attacks, gas replaced by siege, replaced by death due to hunger: No. We hadn't seen anything. Everytime. Year in and year out, it never ended. Finally, it still is not.

Sometimes you can confuse passers-by with friends who were killed many years ago.

The present is sinking in. 31 years old Yaser Kassab, a former economics student at the University of Aleppo, now lives in Sweden. He lives "on the edge of life", to say the title of his first film, which is about the flight from Syria to Lebanon and then to Turkey – all the time in telephone contact with the family, who is left in Syria. In this short film, the only difference is that he is no longer in Turkey, but in Stockholm. But the Skype connection is the same – slow and cracking. On and off. It makes you feel lonely, lonely and meaningless and out of everything. Most of all you are out of time, as if you are stuck. Stuck while you wait for the you-don't-know-what behind the windows of a gray suburb of Sweden. The brick houses in the gray autumn, without lights and leaves, turn into Syria. Present time is sinking into memory. Yaser Kassab cannot go back, because, like other young Syrian men, he would be assigned to two years of military service. Before crossing the border, he would have to face a reconciliation commission – only those who pledge not to oppose the government in any way are allowed to return.

Even this is not enough

Several senior officers have made it clear that whatever the government decides, the army will neither forget nor forgive. Assad fears nothing, and has already started the reconstruction together with a whole world in line to enter into contracts, to get business opportunities. And it is happening while over two million Syrians are still living under the threat of cluster bombs in Idlib, the last site of the rebels. Elsewhere, the time has come to move the dead, who are buried everywhere. That's what Yaser Kassab talks about with his father, who talks about World War II and says, "There was nothing in comparison. There were sirens. You could run into basements, and when the air strikes were over, you could go out. But here, no. Here the air strikes were relentless, ”he says. "Relentless. We were not just accidental civil losses; we were the primary targets. "

With their brutality and beheadings, the jihadists have received all the attention, but of around 350 civilian war victims, Assad's forces have killed as many as 000 percent (Normally, 92% of war victims are civilians, of which over 70. 500.000% are according to whoijskilulingciviliansinsyria.org) Now he's moving even to the dead. Relatives must dig up the victims and move them. Often it lacks bones, if not mixed and confused.

In Syria you will not get peace even if you are dead.

See

www.haaretz.com/amp/middle-east-news/syria/560-000-killed-in-syria-s-war-according-to-updated-death-toll-1.6700244

www.hrw.org/world-report/2019/country-chapters/syria

Footnote:

The latest death toll, December 2018, is 560,000 victims. The source is The Syria Campaign. Which, again, is the only independent and reliable source around. Quoted by all major newspapers and human rights groups.

No one knows how many of those 560,000 dead were civilians. But since 2015, since Russia started bombing rebel-held areas, there's been basically no fighting on the ground. That's why civilians are the majority of casualties. On average, in today's wars civilians are 70 percent of the overall casualties. But since 2014, since the introduction of barrel bombs, and later on, with the involvement of Russia, Syria has been basically a matter of airstrikes.

Francesca Borri
Borri is a war correspondent and writes regularly for Ny Tid.

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