The first demonstrations

Maher Emad, activist from Aleppo

At the start of the Syrian revolution in March 15 of 2011, the people arranged a lot of peaceful demonstrations in several cities, notably Homs and Deraa.

When the regime felt the pressure from the demonstrations over the country, it imposed a tight security around Aleppo City. This was because Aleppo is the economical capital of Syria, so the regime armed loyal tribes and used their security police for tight control of the civilians in the city.

Because of this, the demonstrations reached Aleppo much later than in the other cities. The first demonstrations where small, around 500 people. By the end of June 2011 the demonstrations started to grow and more people dared to join the revolution and chant the slogans to overthrow the regime. For me, it was the first time in my whole life that I could express my own opinion. And I was sure what I wanted; the fall of the dictator and the regime who killed my friends in Homs and Deraa.

We were a lot of young people in the demonstrations, in the beginning mostly from the educated class with a lot of university students. We discussed for a transfer to a new fair social system in Syria. Both economically, culturally and of course politically... But we were met with heavy violence, and the regime really tried to make us afraid by killing the youngest protesters.

We tried to answer to their brutality by intensify our peaceful civil disobedience. At nights, we spread leaflets about the regimes terror and we made drawings on the walls in the city.

At the same time, the demonstrations started to grow more rapidly. We were thousands on the streets. And with the growing demonstrations, the massacres followed. There were so many killed in each demonstration, but the demonstrations kept growing and growing and growing.

The people had seen enough of the dictator Assad.

Rawan Sameh, activist from Aleppo

I was involved in a group that coordinated peaceful actions around the city. We collected ideas and mobilised activists who could do the actions. For example did we print photos af Bashar and Hafez al-Assad and glued to every garbage bin in the city with the slogan ”The right man in the right place”. We wrote words of freedom on coins with ink who was impossible to wash away, and one time we spread thousand of white peace flowers around the city. One of my favourite actions was when we printed freedom flags and glued them on the back of the busses in the city. The buses then drove around the city with the revolution flag visible to all of the cars behind it, until the security police took it down. By that time we had glued ten more busses.

We also renamed the streets in the city one by one. Everytime the regime killed one of us, we wrote his or her name over the old street names. The fallen activists slowly took over the streets of the cities... All of our actions was well planned on our secret channels on social media, and we filmed everything to spread so that activists in other cities could get inspired.

There were several activist groups who was for women only, so that they could plan their own actions and have their own discussions. They were some of the bravest activists. And they always risked being captured by the regime and raped before they were killed. The regimes systematic rapes of women was well known.