National Sections of the L5I:

"Why I joined the Free Syrian Army"

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On September 11, Reimund Fleck of the LFI German section, interviewed "Muhamed", a member of the Free Syrian Army.

RF: Could you tell us what made you join the uprising against the regime of Bashar Al-Assad?

Muhamed: Actually, I was in the medical service of Assad's Army, and there I have seen things which made me take this decision. I was in a hospital in Homs and have seen many dead bodies of civilians. Even those dead bodies were treated in a bad way. I have seen about 100 bodies piled on top of each other. So I could no more think this is a good army. They are treating their own people like animals. In my hospital, there were prisoners who had been arrested for protesting against the government, and they were in chains in their beds. The nurses beat them with boots and torturing equipments instead of giving them care and treatment. They even did not let them go to the WC, they had to do this in their beds. Where I was living, I saw a lot of peaceful demonstrations. They just said "I don't want Assad, I want freedom" - and they shot them. A friend of mine was killed just for going on the street and saying "I don't want Assad". I could no more stand by those who are killing my people. My conscience could not take this any more, so I decided to defect from the Army.

RF: How could you take the risk of getting killed yourself and joining the Free Army to support an uprising, when you don't know whether it will be victorious or will be defeated?

Muhamed: If the Free Army would have attacked me, I could have been killed anyway. I even wouldn't have shot at them, because they are my people. But then, my commander would have shot me. It's the same risk, here and there. So it doesn't matter. But I think the better idea is to leave. Now I feel comfortable inside of me, even if I am in danger. If I get killed, it does not matter. Now I help the Free Army with what I can do, I am in the medical service, caring for the injured and providing help in the refugee camps.

RF: What are the main goals of the revolution you are fighting for?

Muhamed: I think democracy is the main purpose of this revolution. I want to be able to say what I want without being in danger, say whether I like this president or not. We don't have real elections for 50 years now. If you vote "no", you will be in danger, believe me. We want to have the president we chose instead of one who forces us to be slaves for him. You can say this is like a "French" Revolution.

RF: Is democracy the one and only goal to achieve? What about the social situation?

Muhamed: In Syria, 80 percent are living under the line of poverty. For most people it is even hard to find enough to eat, they just work the whole day for getting some food they can bring to their family. It is because Bashar takes all the income from oil and agriculture and doesn't leave anything for his people. So it is also an economic issue. We need a strong economy for the people, so that we can make our ends meet.

RF: Some people are asking western countries to support the uprising in a military way or by delivering supplies. Other say this brings the danger of making Syria dependent on those countries. What do you think?

Muhamed: In fact, there is a need for certain supplies from foreign countries. But at the moment, there is no such support at all. The media say the west is delivering weapons, but that is not the case. The Free Army captures its weapons from Assad's Army. Even in the refugee camps, we barely can supply the food which is necessary. There are now 7000 refugees along the border, the Turkish don't allow them to get in. Where are the western supplies? We don't need weapons supplies. We need only food and medicines, and up to now, there is no help at all. It exists only in the media.

RF: In Europe, many people say the uprising is not a genuine people's uprising and accuse it of being a conspiracy of secret services which aim to destabilise the Middle East. How would you respond to that?

Muhamed: You have to forgive me for saying this - it is stupid to say that it's not the people who are doing this revolution. If your father and mother were killed, what would you do? You would join this revolution because you want freedom. Have a look at this revolution's beginning. It started in Daraa. They arrested nine children and tortured them. They killed Hamza Ali Al-Khaleeb. After that, the people of Daraa went to the police station, and they were also beaten. They were told "go away, or we will come and get your women also". That's where the revolution started. We have been in fear and under pressure for 50 years now. If you take off the lid, we explode, and that's the revolution. It's not made by secret services.

RF: Some people say, the conflict is mainly sectarian. How would you respond to that?

Muhamed: No, but even if it were the case, only Bashar Al-Assad would be responsible for this. The Alawis have been our brothers for 30 years. But since the uprising started, he gives them money to kill us, and they do it. He gives them houses and even our furniture which he steals from us. They kill us for this. But if the Revolution is finished, I would let them go. I don't want to kill them like they do with us, because the real relation between us is tolerance, and we are living in the same country. I hope they stop killing us. In fact, Bashar Al-Assad is not only our enemy. He is their enemy as well, because some day he will take a plane to Russia and leave them amongst us.

RF: What do you think will come after bringing down Bashar?

Muhamed: Actually I am afraid that after Bashar has gone, there could be a civil war. But you can see that during this revolution, people are coming together. That's the case in Aleppo, and also in Damascus. So I don't think there will be such a civil war. I think there should be a free, maybe an Islamic, government, like in Egypt. But I want to tell you, real Muslim people don't kill each other, like Al Quaida. The image of Islam is very much ruined. Believe me, it is not like that, that's only what the media is telling. Real muslim people are very hospitable. If you go to Syria, people will take any risk to protect you, whether you are Christian or anything. The people of all religions are our brothers. Bashar is a Muslim, too - but only in the name, he is killing us. So the problem is not about religion, it is what you think about.

RF: What should supporters in other countries do to help you?

Muhamed: You will have to work it out, because here we don't have the time to think about it. If people really want to help, they will find a way. They should organise big protests and international help. Now, the revolution is close to its victory. Bashar Al-Assad is close to leaving. What we need now for the Free Army is anti-aircraft rockets, that is all we need. Now the Free Army is controlling the ground, but Bashar is controlling the air. If we bring the planes down, we will have the victory.

RF: Do Egyptian or Libyan people support you?

Muhamed: There are some fighters from those countries, but very few, maybe only 200 people. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are sending money, and that is very good. We thank them for this.

RF: Lastly, what is the situation in Syria at this moment and what do you want to tell the people who read this?

Muhamed: We are in need of help, now. The whole world is against us. Russia, China and Iran, also Lebanon, they are attacking us. On the other side, America, all of Europe - they just look and don't do anything. I think, if they don't do anything, that is also a crime. They have the power to stop it, but they don't want to. Turkey closed its borders for the refugees and wants all of us to leave. So the Syrian people are in a miserable situation.

RF: Thank you very much for the interview. You have our full solidarity and we wish you nothing less than full victory over this regime.