‘We stood with the regime because we were afraid to perish’: Dagestani villager


August 14, 2013

August 14, 2013

Our blood is not Arab, so we stood with the regime because we were afraid to perish,” says Samah, a 30 year-old woman from Syria’s Dagistani minority who left Syria in 2011 and now lives with her husband in Jordan. Born in the Dagistani suburb of Deir Foul by Homs, Samah still has a sister in Damascus and two brothers in Homs. Samah tells Nuha Shabaan that after witnessing two years of brutality waged against the Syrian people she has turned on the regime, and now hopes that her family back in Syria has done the same.

Dagistan, which has an ethnically-diverse population of nearly three million, is situated in southwestern Russia beside the breakaway region of Chechnya. Dagistan’s most infamous natives include the Tsarnaev brothers, the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people in April.

Q: What is the latest news that has reached you from Homs – since you have two brothers with their wives and children, do you have any news about them?

A: There is no news. Our village has faced violent shelling recently because of the internal wars between neighboring villages, which has drawn most of the population into the revolution. My brothers fled to a neighboring village.

I don’t know where their wives and children are today, my brother told me last time we spoke that he would send them to Damascus, but I don’t know if he was able to or not. Even Damascus is no longer safe, nor the road to it.

Q: Do your brothers support the regime or the revolution? Or are they neutral?

A: No, my brothers since the beginning have been neutral, not with anyone and not for the killing and destruction that have occurred in Homs. They did not believe that Bashar acts on their behalf, but we did believe these lies about armed [rebel] gangs. But after a while, after the shelling on Homs grew more severe, I changed my view on things and realized that the regime was lying and that it does not distinguish between who is with it and who is against it.

When I was talking to my brothers over the phone and they told me what was happening in Homs I regretted standing by the regime in the beginning. “When you spoke to me about its actions, I didn’t believe your words were correct,” I said. “It was impossible that Bashar al-Assad could be like that.”

During my time in Homs, I was helping the victims through my work, not because they stood with the revolution but because they were victims and we are accustomed to helping them because we are minorities and our village is a peaceful village.

I used to tell these people, enough help for the armed gangs, and they would look at me with fear, thinking that I was with the regime and that I was helping it so they would distance themselves from me. Since I have come to Jordan with my Jordanian husband, however, through words and discussion with his family at home, and as I see on the satellite channels the images and awful massacres, I realize the scope of the tragedy that the country, and especially Homs, is facing at the hand of the regime and its gangs, now with the help of Iran, Hezbollah, Russia, and China.

My brothers, now, I don’t know if I can trust they are with the revolutionaries or if anyone left in the village, especially from our families, stands against the regime. As you know, our blood is not Arab so we stood with the regime because we are afraid to perish.

Q: Do you have anything else you want to add?

A: Yes, I want to raise my voice high to everyone who supports and trusts this regime that they will pay the price for all that has happened to us, sooner or later.

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