Salamiyah Women Coordination Committee
The country-wide uprising in Syria, has had different characteristics in each city. What distinguished the civil movement in the city of Salamiyah, was the sheer number and contribution of women.
To refute the regime’s fabricated narrative of the revolution as a “salafist conspiracy”, a group of a woman established the Salamiyah Women Coordination Committee, in October 22, 2012. These women took part in countless demonstration in Salamiyah, one of the earliest cities to join the revolution.
The civil, liberal nature of the movement in Salamiyah, threatened the regime’s propaganda of the alleged “terrorist infiltrators”. This ultimately led to large scale detentions that significantly reduced the protest movement in the city.
Nevertheless, the sweeping crackdown was a strong motivation for the women, to stand up to the tyrant and play a major role in the movement’s resurrection.
One of the first activities organized by the committee was a silent march through the city streets. Participants held up banners glorifying other rebelling towns, calling for the release of detainees and condemning the Assad’s regimes bombings campaigns against Syrian towns. The silent march was soon assaulted by regime thugs and security forces, and a large number of the activists were detained.
The crackdown against public protests pushed the activists to think of innovative, but safer, means of protesting. Thus was the idea for demonstrations organized inside homes. “We organized sit-ins inside of our houses, where we held banners and statements that presented our political views, and our resistance to the brutality of the Assad regime.” These domestic sit-ins were then filmed and distributed on social media. One of the poignant messages of the sit-ins read: “Our whole revolution can be summarized in these words: We want freedom, we want dignity, and we will demand these until the murderer falls and is finally executed.”
The committee’s forced recourse to domestic sit-ins did not prevent it from participating in other types of revolutionary activities including relief, providing help to internally displaced Syrians and to the families of victims and detainees. All of these activities are sustained by individual donations from committee members.
The committee’s activists fully reject the regime’s narrative on sectarianism, and they feel, as members of one such so-called “minority”, that they are best placed to dissect this narrative as utter nonsense: “No one can fool us with this lie of protecting minorities. The Syrian revolution is one for all Syrians whoever they were, and wherever they lived. Its goal is clear, and that is to rid us of the regime of the Assad family and to create a new Syria that is based on active citizenship, pluralism and the rule of law.”
The group, while reaffirming its commitment to civil and nonviolent activism, nevertheless is clear in its support of armed resistance as well, albeit only under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). This is because the group believes that “militarization was an inevitable consequence of the regime’s brutality and massacres.” They, however, recognize the detrimental effects of radical Islamist militants on the revolution and civil activists, and regard groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as an extension of the regime rather than its opponents.