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Panel discussion

Oct 15, 2022

Karam Shaar

The reality and future of peaceful resistance in Syria

With the beginning of peaceful demonstrations in Syria in March 2011, the brutality of the Syrian regime pushed civilians towards violence in many forms and succeeded to the point that peaceful resistance today is at its worst in more than a decade. Peaceful resistance, which seems impossible to some in areas under Assad’s control, is much better in areas outside his control. Comparative research work on the experiences of countries around the world between the years 1900 and 2006 says that the chances of peaceful revolutions radically changing regimes or overthrowing them are approximately double the chances of successful armed action. The cost of change through peaceful revolutions is lower and the results are more sustainable. But on the other hand, “genocide regimes” such as Cambodia, Syria, Rwanda, Burma, and North Korea have their own extreme specificity, which makes comparisons across time and between countries difficult. I invite you to chat with one of the most important people who worked and advocated for peaceful work in Syria, Osama Nassar, Yara Badr, Muhammad Kattoub, and Zeina Arhaim. Interested to hear their opinion regarding:
- Description of the reality and feasibility of peaceful action in Syria currently in the various areas of control
- The lessons we learned from peaceful action during the last two decades
- Providing practical ideas about where peaceful action should focus on the future and what its forms might be

Regarding the participants in the session:

Yara Bader:

A journalist and human rights activist, she works as director of the Media and Freedoms Program at the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression. She was honored by many international human rights organizations, including IFEX and Human Rights Watch. She received the Ilaria Albi Award for her contributions in shedding light on Syrian detainees and the regime-led policy of gagging in Syria.

Osama Nassar:

Activist and journalist, editor-in-chief of Tala’na Ali al-Hurriya magazine, and former director of its office in Douma/Eastern Ghouta. Bachelor’s degree in Arts from Damascus University, English Department. He currently works in the Office of Local Development and Small Projects Support. He previously worked as Director of the Office of the Syrian Peaceful Movement in the Damascus countryside.

Mohamad Katoub:

An advocacy and communications expert, his work focuses on humanitarian policies, civil society empowerment, the protection of aid workers, and defending human rights. He is a dentist who previously worked in humanitarian relief by setting up field hospitals, supporting local governance structures, and advising many NGOs. Mohamad is a research fellow in the "Syria Impact Study" at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.

Zaina Erhaim:

A Syrian journalist and activist, she works as a communications expert and expert on gender-related issues with international organizations in the Middle East and North Africa. She contributed to writing three books related to journalism and women. She worked with the Institute for War and Peace Journalism as communications director for eight years. Before that, she worked as a journalist with the BBC. She writes for various media outlets and holds a master's degree in international journalism from City University of London. She has been a judge in numerous international journalism competitions.

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