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Syria | Eva Bartlett's interview with a woman from Saqba, Ghouta.

by Eva Karene Bartlett ~ 26 May 2018


Screenshot from one of my videos documenting the words of a woman from eastern Ghouta

Part 1 of her testimony:

"My name is Hanadi Shakr. I used to live in Ghouta with my husband and my kids. I was just living normally, peacefully in Ghouta with my kids and I was bringing them up and looking after them, and then suddenly my husband said he has volunteered with what was referred to as the Free Syrian Army.

At the beginning everything that they did was secretive, we did not know what was happening. But then, little by little, they started bringing groups, and these groups had weapons and they used to hide the weapons inside my house. I didn’t know why they were doing this, and then they suddenly said that we are going to stand against the regime’s army and we are going to fight this army. And I was afraid, because I didn’t know what was happening or why they were saying this.

Little by little, my brothers volunteered with them.

[Were there protests then?]

Yes, people were protesting in the streets against the Syrian ‘regime’. But a lot of people died during these protests, because a lot were killed by the FSA who used to kill them and say that the government is killing them.

Then my husband volunteered with a group called Jaysh al-Islam, and he started going out with them. At this point, I started becoming really afraid for myself and my children. I used to tell him, please don’t do this, let us just live together here, don’t do this, don’t go with them.

Four or five years later, he announced he wanted to remarry, and so problems started between us.

He did get remarried. He married a widow who had three children.

Things started to get negative between us. I became really frustrated. We fought a lot and we drifted apart. Then, he just left me, walked out.

Before that, he used to bring weapons to the house and hide them in the house. He used to go out and fight with them.

After a while, my brother who worked for a security office for the Free Syrian Army in Douma, they started getting woman and recruiting woman and letting them work with them. I didn’t know what they were doing, what kind of work they were doing, but they were supposedly nurses.

[Your children are here?]

No. My children are with their father.

He went out (of Ghouta) with the regular civilians, through a SAA checkpoint. He is in a different centre.

[So now he is under the control of the Syrian government he used to fight against?]

Yes

[Why did he join Jaysh al-Islam?]

He wanted to defend islam. He had a sort of obsession. They said they were muslims, but they were not. They were being paid in US dollars, which is good money in Syria.

He worked as a fighter and as a nurse at the same time.

He used to work in restaurants before the crisis.

He studied until grade 9.

He was a very simple man, didn’t have any signs of the extremist ideology.

He was a Sufi. I don’t know what changed inside of him.

We lived simply, we didn’t have a lot of money but we didn’t need anyone’s help either.

When the crisis happened, he wanted to improve his lifestyle with the money from Jaysh al-Islam.

He fought with Jaysh al-Islam until they left Ghouta.

There were hard times, it was hard to get food after we divorced. But there were good people who helped me after he left me.

I used to work as a nurse, for about one year, then he banned me from working. He started hiding things from me, medication, the weapons... and then he’d hide them elsewhere, out of the house.

They’d get milk and other aid and would sell it, not give it to the people.

(note: Her brothers were part of Jaysh al-Islam. One is still in Ghouta and the other went to Idlib. Jaysh al-Islam told the people if they took reconciliation and leave, the Syrian government will behead you.)

They used to tell us, stay here, if you leave, the government will take your kids, rape the women and behead you. ...I used to believe them, but when we came out, no one touched us, so I saw how much lying they used to do.

In Saqba there were chemical attacks. (but doesn’t know any details)

(She has no idea who the White Helmets are, she has never seen them, although they had a headquarters in Saqba where she lived.)

I have no contact with brother in Douma who was with Jaysh al-Islam.

The thing that bothers me the most is that my kids are not with me."



Part 2 of interview with woman from Saqba, Ghouta, now living in Horjilleh camp for displaced.

"When I was in Ghouta, I used to be afraid of everything. There were a lot of people who were hungry.

The problem is that we didn’t know who is who anymore. Everyone was fighting one another. All factions were fighting one another. We got confused. It was hard to believe any of the factions anymore.

My son is my only son. I have six daughters. He used to come and say that he wanted to volunteer with them. Mom, they are our brothers, Jaysh al-Islam, Jabhat al-Nusra, Faylaq al-Rahman, we should fight with them. Jabhat al-Nusra was the faction that used to torture people a lot.

When they opened the tunnels, there was a lot of food was available and we could buy it. But the price of sugar was 16,000 liras, bread 3,000. We used to eat only barley.

I worked as a nurse for a year, from the beginning of the crisis (2011). Every time there was a case that was a bit severe, they would say you must amputate this person.

[Was amputation necessary?]

Not all the time, but they would say that we are in short of medical supplies and so amputation is the best choice.

They didn’t use to treat people. Even people who had minor surgery, they would just amputate it. All of the medical aid that was brought in, it would just vanish, they would sell it and take the money. A lot of food aid was delievered into the areas where we lived, but they would take it and sell it. Everything went to the leaders of the terrorist factions. We lived very dark days, days of darkness and humiliation.

[But they say they did this for you to live in freedom.]

Don’t believe them, it’s all bogus, lies."



Part 3 of interview with woman from Saqba, Ghouta, living in centre for displaced
("Her life was ruined thanks to the premeditated war on Syria which saw uneducated men like her ex-husband and brothers join terrorist groups for financial gain and power. Yes, they were ignorant and selfish and their participation in terrorist groups is not to be excused (although, that said, the Syrian government allows such people who don't have blood on their hands to return to civil society through the reconciliation process), but had the West and their Zionist and Gulf allies not concocted the war, the fake 'revolution', and had they not obscenely funded the many terrorist factions, none of this would have happened." ~ Eva Bartlett)

*
"I just need someone to talk to. I just need someone to open my heart to, and speak about all the suffering that we suffered inside At the hands of these factions.

How is it fair when a brother gives his own brother to Jaysh al-Islam to torture him?

[Your brother turned in your other brother?]
Yes, my brother gave my other brother to Jaysh al-Islam. He was tortured and he died.

[So one of your brothers was Faylaq al-Rahman and the other one was Jaysh al-Islam?]

Yes.

He used to work in the security office of Faylaq al-Rahman.
There were a lot of thefts at that time. They used to steal the copper wires from under the ground, and melt them and sell them.

This brother I told you about who took his own brother and tortured him, he never ate the food we ate. He used to eat luxurious food, very good bread, not the barley bread we used to eat. One kilo of barley cost 3,000 (liras) (around US$7)

[Your parents are here?]

No, they went to Damascus.

[Do you have contact with them?]

I don't want to have contact with anyone.

My parents were in Kafr Batna and they left when the last group of people left Kafr Batna, they left with them.

And I have brothers inside, they reconciled with the government and they stayed inside.

[Do you want to go back there?]

I would rather stay here, I don't want to go there.
I want to see them all but I don't like seeing anyone right now

I’m not ready to go back."


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