The spirit of revolt, still intact among Syrians in exile

Paris (AFP) - Any regrets? “Not a single second.” During the years of revolt in Syria, Omar, Nivine, Tohama and Bashar experienced fear, torture, bombing, exile, but nothing succeeded in shattering their deep aspirations.

When the Arab Spring spread across the Middle East in 2011, thousands of young Syrians joined protests in March to demand change in the country ruled by the Assad family since 1970.

The response of President Bashar al-Assad's regime was as swift as it was ruthless, and many non-violent Syrians at the heart of this revolt paid with their lives for their quest for freedom.

AFP interviewed four Syrian activists forced into exile after suffering terrible violence and the loss of loved ones, but with no prospect of returning home, they do not regret their commitment.

Here are their stories.

- Stockholm: from prisons to university

The first thing Omar Alshogre sees in the morning when he wakes up are photographs of the jailers who tortured him in one of Syria's most feared detention centers, Branch 215.

Omar wanted these photos he bought from the families of his torturers.To remember: "They couldn't break me, I'm still alive."

Now 25, he says he was 15 when regime forces arrested him for the first time "with all the men" from his village near Baniyas, on the Mediterranean coast, a hotbed of protest in a largely pro-government province.

He was released two days later with his fingernails torn off and his leg broken."I understood for the first time what freedom meant and it was from there that I started to protest," he says, via a videoconferencing application.

Posted Date: 2020-12-22

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