Report on Civil Activities (Sept 17-Oct 31, 2016)
First Theatre Play in Besieged Eastern Ghutah
A group of young activists came together to create a play that benefited from the contribution of volunteer writers from non-besieged areas, while relying on the amateur acting talents of Eastern Ghutah youths. The play discusses the overwhelming notion of departure, as its actors hope to inspire people to resist the temptation to flee their homeland. The play was staged on the 27th of September in a tour of the various towns of besieged Eastern Ghutah. The young group said that their belief in theatre as the most direct form of communication with the audience has led them to creating this first work.
Doctors Protest PYD Arrests
On the 7th of October, 40 doctors in Qamishli organized a sit-in in front of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) offices, protesting the arrest of three colleagues by PYD forces, under what they called “fake administrative charges”. The PYD official accusation is that they have been using their medical authority to sell fake health reports that allow chronic disease patients to travel to Iraqi Kurdistan for treatment, while border crossings are closed for otherwise healthy people. According to the sit-in participants, PYD supporters attempted to end the sit-in by threatening some of the doctors, and even dangerously driving them off with a van.
Children on Stage
On October 8, the Thiqah (Confidence) Centre for Psychosocial Support held the first children’s theatre festivity and graduation ceremony in as-Swaysah, in the southern al-Qunaytrah province. After 8 months of training, a recreational activity was organized to celebrate the end of the courses for 150 students. The festivity included singing and theatre work created and played by the children, with the purpose of encouraging them to gain more confidence by braving an audience and expressing themselves.
Eastern Aleppo Residents Refuse to Leave
On October 20, demonstration went out in Aleppo against the regime’s systematic attempts to empty opposition-held neighborhoods of their inhabitants. Regime helicopters had thrown leaflets earlier ʻadvisingʼ residents to leave the besieged neighborhoods in three days, starting on the 20th, through seven allegedly safe passage routes.
Madaya Doctors Critical of UN, SARC
On October 24, a demonstration was held in support of the Madaya and Baqin Medical Board ‘s decision to stop working in protest against the UN and Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC)’s failure to fulfill their aid responsibilities. According to the Four Town Agreement that was concluded in September 2015, aid should have been allowed into opposition strongholds Madaya and Zabadani, both located on western Qalamun mountains, in return for the same happening in Fuʻa and Kafrayyah, two regime-held villages in Idlib province. The Medical Board demanded lifting off the siege, evacuating acute medical cases – such as those of kidney failure patients – and allowing in medical and food aid. Spoiled food was also a matter of grievances.
UN food distribution has been highly discontinuous in the four towns, and the related statements said nothing about spoiled goods. The last UN medical convoy that entered Madaya in September saw half of its supplies (1.5 tonnes) removed by regime forces.
Indignation at Hass Massacre
Between October 26 and 27, demonstrations continued in Maʻarrat an-Nuʻman, in Idlib province, as part of an ongoing anti-Fath ash-Sham Front [ex-Nusra Front] campaign that was initiated over 200 days ago. In this particular occasion, protests denounced the targeting of a school in nearby Hass village, which resulted in 35 casualties, including 22 school children. Both Russia and the Syrian regime were blamed for the massacre.
Entertaining the Children of Detainees
On October 28, the Eastern Ghutah Unified Aid Office held a recreational activity in Saqbah for the children of detainees. The activity aimed to be a reminder of the plight of detainees and their families, often neglected behind the priority given to the ʻmartyrsʼ’ families. It also attempted to contribute to the psychosocial support of the children by spotlighting their suffering and providing them a fun and safe zone for playing.
[Main photo: One of the theatre plays organized by Khotawat association in Mayadin – Dey az-Zawr province – 2014].