Yesterday, ‘People & Power,’ an Al Jazeera English program, broadcast a half-hour-long documentary on the Syrian uprising, filmed entirely on an iPhone. During the documentary, the undercover reporter – who is neither named, nor shown for his own protection – travels through Syria bearing witness to its ongoing revolution.
In shaky daylight film, we see Syrian streets deserted of life and activity; the houses riddled with bullet holes; there's the ominous crack of gunfire in the distance. These are eerie images, showing the reality of life in cities and towns under siege. Yet, as night falls a very different scene emerges.
Syrians – mostly men – emerge from their houses to occupy the squares and streets of towns across Syria. Shielded by armed elements of the Free Syrian Army, they dance, sing, and shout anti-regime slogans into the freezing night air. Their leaders exhort the revolution forwards; the crowd curses both Bashar and his father Hafez al-Assad, and sings in unison the songs of revolution.
Yet, morning returns and with it comes the snipers, tanks, thugs and police of the regime. Indeed, only at night can these people play out their long-held dreams of a life without the regime and its security forces.
The documentary is an emotional and thought-provoking journey into the heart of the one-year-old Syrian Revolution. It shows us the children singing the same songs as their parents; the young men fighting for their lives against a brutal security apparatus; the under-armed but high-spirited gangs of Free Syrian Army soldiers that protect the protests from attack. Much more importantly, the film shows us a society under attack but still standing.
Many questions are raised by this film, ranging from: Who actually arm the Syrian fighters? Who are the fighters? What role does religion play in this uprising? How will this conflict end?
The real question the documentary answers is very simple and straightforward. One year one from the start of the uprising, is the revolution still going strong in Syria? The answer is undoubtedly: yes.
If anything, the documentary – filmed both in the greatest simplicity and with the greatest risk – paints the portrait of a nation’s people whose spirit is unbroken, and their thirst for freedom intact, despite the countless acts of great violence perpetrated against them.
This Friday night, those very Syrian protestors will be out in the cold, dark night singing their songs and shouting their slogans. In the face of an armed and brutal regime, these brave men, women, and children will sing of their dreams for a future free from fear, conflict, and of the regime that oppresses them. The world should listen to them.
Photo Credit: FreedomHouse