One does not have to be a historian – or to have read the books that recount the history and trajectory of past states and kingdoms – to know that all kingdoms fall, and that tyrants inevitably depart. As with the realms and thrones that preceded Assad's kingdom, so too will Assad's kingdom disappear – a kingdom built on panic, fear, terror and torture; built on security apparatuses, massacres and plunder of public wealth; a kingdom whose ultimate destiny, sooner or later, is ruin.
That kingdom called Syria, which Hafez al-Assad constructed with death and prisons, before his heir continued the legacy, committing innumerable massacres against the population, an occupation enforced underneath a mountain of pain – unforgettable pain: for forgetfulness is the mission and aim of the killer, while the mission of his survivors is to remember and to remind.
We will not forget the massacres committed by Assad's forces. We will not forget the pictures of the slaughtered children in Karam el-Zeitoun and in Daraya; we will not forget the rubble, debris, ruins and devastation that Assad's army caused with their shells and missiles; we will not forget those who conspired against the revolution, who formed brigades calling for freedom but named themselves after another criminal tyrant, such as Saddam Hussein.
These are small things that we must stop and analyse so that it changes our lives, such as a pleasant song or an entertaining book about… a massacre. We have to speak and relay the massacres and remember them so that a new regime replicating Assad's crimes does not arise in the future to commit similar massacres. It is true that many things are happening every minute today in our contemporary world, and that we are in a race with time to keep up with all the information around us in the pursuit of a more leisurely life – but we must stop to consider and relay the death that falls everyday upon the heads of innocents. We must say something about the blood and remains of humans that we continue to witness on our screens; we must be able to narrate and tell our stories without tiring of its repetition – for it is our only remaining sanctuary.
We must not forget the body of Hamza al-Khatib: that which was maimed, mutilated and disfigured beyond recognition by criminals; we must keep remembering Fatima's head which they separated from her small body; we must remember the massacre of Daraya and the child that sat next to her dead mother; we must remember the Syrian state television's reporting, and the vile and despicable reports of the so-called journalist Michelle Azer. We must remember the massacres of Houla, Kafar Aweed and Jisr al-Shughur. Massacres are not a natural phenomenon like water and food for us to become accustomed to; massacres are excesses and violations committed against nature, and violations of nature are not an ordinary thing.
That is what the Syrian regime wants us to do – to forget, as if nothing happened. The regime, and behind them its Russian and Iranian friends, even pursue us in the online realm to take down Facebook posts mourning and commemorating Abdel Basset al-Sarout. They want to deprive us of everything, even the mentioning of facts that happened; they want to empty truth from its meaning, and make suspicion and doubt overshadow every fact. They want to say that the story we tell is a lie, that what happened didn't, that massacres did not take place, that prisons are clean and that there are no detainees who died under torture, that the White Helmets is a terrorist organization that doesn't care about saving civilians, and that our heroes are terrorists. They want the story to remain their exclusive property, to say whatever they please so long as their brainwashed supporters continue to believe what this regime and its mouthpieces say. The Assad soldiers, the soldiers of Russia, Iran and militias that came from who knows where, occupied our houses, our streets and our countries; and now they want to occupy our memories, and that is what we must resist. We own our memories, we own our stories, and they will not take them away from us.
It has been said in every era and place that history is written by the victor, but we are today in the age of globalization, in an age where information is available everywhere, in the age of the internet and speed; we are able to tell our story and to say that Hafez al-Assad was the source of destruction, and that his son Bashar al-Assad, his heir, multiplied that destruction; that this regime killed, tortured and victimized, that it expelled Syrians from their home. This "victor" will not be able to tell the story as he wants, even if he took over the entire world we will contradict and nullify his narrative, and tell the origins of the true story – while exposing his victories built on the remains of our loved ones and the destruction of our country.