From Kafranbel: The Story of the Syrian Revolution in Three Minutes
When Syrians started taking to the streets in March 2011, one of the most common pro-regime thugs´ threats was “to take Syria back a 100 years”. This soon turned into a joke Syrians repeated as their rulers displayed their military and propaganda machines to repress every form of opposition. “We´re going back to the Stone Age”, was mockingly repeated by freedom activists as they saw the devastation around them.
The irony of Syria becoming crushed into the past while it struggled to emerge into a future where freedom and justice prevailed has been used by the people of Kafranbel (Idlib), to send a powerful message to the world.
In a three-minute video that became viral soon after it was published online, activists from the town of Kafranbel dress as stone age people to represent the evolution of the Syrian uprising. A few stone agers hold rudimentary banners to protest, before they are attacked by a group holding guns and rifles who suddenly opens fire at them. The attacks gradually turn into shelling and bombing. As more protesters keep coming out of their caves, a few observers sit and watch. It is only when the attackers start using a bottle of gas to spray the others that the observers react, angrily demanding that the bottle is removed from the picture. The video ends with the following message:
Death is death, regardless of the way it is done. Assad has killed more than 150,000. Stop him.
With this video, Kafranbel once again stands out as a powerful symbol of Syrian resistance and narrative amid internal and external threats. Perhaps the most famous town in Syria today after becoming the source of creativity and wisdom in expressing revolutionary feelings and awareness, the way Kafranbel continues to resist both Assad´s oppression and any attempts to hijack their revolution becomes more relevant than ever.
In a world that tends to ignore grassroots projects and initiatives that focus on civil society building in an increasingly violent context, Kafranbel shows awareness not only of Syria´s recent history, but of how the rest of the world views them, as stone age barbarians whose voice has become a nuisance. It also points to the hypocrisy of the international community, that has drawn the red line on the use of chemical weapons, allowing Assad to go as far as killing 150,000 people and setting the country and the region on fire.
As the geopolitical conversation focuses on military aspects and proxy-wars, it becomes more important than ever to listen to Syrian voices and grassroots projects. Amid these voices, Kafranbel is a powerful symbol of self-management and resistance that Syria Untold considers crucial for a better understanding of the Syrian reality.