January 21, 2014
As the opposition-in-exile Syrian National Coalition prepares to meet representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime at the Geneva II peace talks Wednesday, 24 year-old citizen journalist Bebars al-Telawi remains behind a 20-month blockade in Homs’s Old City.
There, the blockade means no movement inside or out – no food, no medicine, no electricity or water – nothing, for all residents, not just fighters. It is not only Homs. Blockades are happening all over Syria. They violate the terms of Geneva I by blocking humanitarian corridors, so that trapped citizens face daily bombardment, the risk of starvation and another winter without oil or electricity.
Syria Direct’s Abdulrahman al-Masri spoke with the well-known activist about taking on a government whose supporters’ embrace the slogan: “al-Assad or we burn the country.”
Q: What does Geneva II mean to you?
A: It is a tool to lengthen the regime's life and give it more time to kill Syrian people. The West says that a political solution is the solution for the Syrian crisis. But how can it be applied while civilians are dying from hunger and bombardment?
At the same time, we don’t see any initiative from the regime toward a political solution, as the regime is using all political decisions and conferences to its own benefit.
Q: The conference's draft says that Geneva II is aiming for an interim government, and will begin by breaking blockades and allowing the entry of aid convoys, as well as a ceasefire. Will that help solve the Syrian crisis?
A: If these words were executed, it would be a solution. But we need to see the mechanism to implement these words on the ground. That will convince the Syrian people that the regime is also aiming for a political solution.
Q: During the last week, we have noticed that the Syrian regime has intensified its attacks on several areas in Aleppo, Outer Damascus and Homs. What do you think it means when the regime uses fatal weapons like barrel bombs at this time?
A: This is a military escalation on the ground, so that the regime captures more land from rebels and has a winning card to play in negotiations.
Q: What message is the regime trying to send to civilians?
A: It is the same message that the shabiha have used since the beginning of the revolution: "Either al-Assad or we burn the country.”