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Yassin al Haj Saleh

Written by Sabine Küper on . Posted in The Passenger

Yassin al-Haj Saleh (born in Ar-Raqqah  in 1961) is a Syrian writer and political dissident. He writes on political, social and cultural subjects relating to Syria and the Arab world.

From 1980 until 1996 he spent time in prison in Syria for his membership in what he now calls a “communist pro-democracy group”. He was arrested while he was studying medicine in Aleppo and spent sixteen years in prison, the last in Tadmur Prison. He took his final examination as a general medical practitioner in 2000, but never practiced.

Al-Haj Saleh is married to Samira al Khalil, a communist dissident, former political detainee and a revolutionary activist abducted in Douma in December 2013. After 21 months of hiding in Damascus and whole Syria, for being wanted by both the regime and radical Islamist militants, he fled to Turkey. He now currently lives in Istanbul.

At the 7th of December 2014 Al-Haj Saleh made a talk at Salt Galata on the dynamics of suppression used by the Assad-regime and the Salafist Jihadist Islamist movement in Syria. He underlined the similarities of both. The Assad regime rooted its power by building a network of spies and paramilitarian units completing the suppression through the regular State bureaucracy.

“You are either demonstrative for the Regime or you are a potential traitor” Sl-Haj Saleh is pointing out. The methods of suppression include beside imprisonment torture, abductions, rape and sexual abuse, executions and other forms of power abuses. Beating up demonstrators or other suspects is daily business. Since not only the state forces but also state related groups are using violence and force, the population is hold in a stage of steady fear. The propaganda produced by the State controlled media is presenting demonstrators as terrorists. It gives one central message to the audience: if you are silent and obedient, nothing will happen to you and your family.

The control of the population is managed with the typical totalitarian methods: listening of phones, spying out Dissidents, blackmailing. Al-Haj Saleh emphasized, that some families are ruining themselves to pay for imprisoned relatives. They are blackmailed, that their family members are getting killed, tortured or raped, when they don’t pay. The money is never a guaranty to prevent violence; still most people prefer to pay and to hope.

The IS is using the same methods. But they impose the brutality on the Internet, because they are an emerging force in Syria and Iraq hoping for an international expansion. Shocking pictures shared on Social media is confronting with a reality that always existed. From the outside it is easy to reduce this mechanism of violence to a stereotype. Islamism and the culture of this region are evil and savage. This is trivial; no culture is sentenced to such a phenomology.

Unfortunately the Middle East is scarred from a torn past of wars, conquests and dominations. The 19th Century was patterned by European expansion policy; the 21st is marked by a globalized world economy at the edge of absurdity. Human rights aren’t only violated in the Middle East. The world powers, the US, Russia and China are using institutionalized State violence as well. It always needs a decade until reports of violations of human rights are reaching the surface.

Guantanamo is the axe of evil for many people in the  Middle East since years. The IS is imitating practices from CİA-Torture centers in a disgusting way . What is added is the final butchering of the victims as a kind of execution of the practices of the enemy.  This senseless contest in who is the most cruel one unveils the dehumanizing nature of global war politics in the Middle East. .

Yassin al Haj Saleh pointed out, that supporters of the Syrian revolution like him have to fight against  several Fronts. The Islamists, the Assad regime, corruption and also the temptation to be used by Western powers trying to level out the own political engagement by exploting dissidents from the area.






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