What an awful feeling to wake up one day and find that what you lived back as a child, more than 29 years ago, is only happening again, in front of your own eyes. The same nightmare, the same killing, the same army, the same place.. and the same last name.
The nightame is : the regime's brutal crackdown
The killing is : the killing of civilians
The army is : the Syrian Arab Army
The place is : Hama
The last name is : Assad
How could I ever forget how, as a child back in 1982, I would be heading to school in Damascus and the school bus would stop in Abbasiyin Square (Abbasid Square) near my home. The bus driver would show us the hung men of the day. They would usually get hung around 5am, if I remember well. Their bodies hanging on a rope from the throat, dressed in white including their covered face and head, would be left there for us to see them.
I had no idea why they were hung. I had no idea who they were. But I was appalled every time I saw 2 or 3 of them in the morning. I thought of them as evil men.
The bus driver would say : Look children, this is what happens if you don't behave! We would just look at the bodies in awe.
The first Hama Massacre started on 2 February 1982, led by the Hafez Al-Assad's brother, Rifaat Al-Assad. Today it is led by Maher Al-Assad, Bashar Al-Assad's brother.
A whole city was punished back in 1982 because it started an (Islamist) uprising against the regime. In Aleppo my cousin's best friend was hung too. They were both students at the Medicine Faculty of Aleppo University. My cousin never recovered from the shock.
I did not understand then what was happening. Today I do not understand either why this is happening again. How could a whole lifetime have passed by and history would repeat itself in a new massacre in Hama?
How could the world just watch? We all expected it was going to happen.. didn't we?
It only makes one feel helpless. It only makes one feel depressed.
One difference I know between 29 years ago and now is that it is not just Hama this time. It is much more, it is way beyond, it is not the "Islamists" alone.
The price of freedom is turning out to be truly hefty. One day before the start of Ramadan recorded the highest toll to date of any single cay since the start of the March 15 uprising in Syria. Most of the killed today are in Hama after the army stormed into the city at dawn.
The regime is worried. Every day in Ramadan could turn into a Friday where people gather in the mosque then go out to protest. Hama has seen the biggest protests of all Syrian cities in past few weeks, with more than 1 million protesters just in Hama and Deir ez-Zor alone.
Victims of the first Hama Massacre are estimated between 20 thousand and 40 something thousand. I don't know if the world was watching back in 1982. But I know it is watching in 2011. The 1982 silence should not repeat itself.