A couple of evenings ago I went to see a film called ‘City Of Ghosts.’ It is the story of the city of Raqqa, in Syria, and its takeover by ISIS. The city has been practically destroyed , not just by ISIS but also by the Syrian , Russian and US governments who have all been having a pop.
A group of ‘ordinary ‘ people , from this carnage , got together to form the group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS). Together they risk , and some have lost, their lives to get information out to the world , the truth of what is happening , what the media is not telling the world . Together they are fighting the propaganda put out by ISIS and at significant cost to themselves and their loved ones . Their courage and determination is hard to put into words . As one member of the group said , ‘I’ve started to look forward to dying of natural causes.’
The messages from the film are stark , brutal and many. A sentence that stuck with me was an observation by one member , ‘Things can fall to chaos much quicker than anyone can believe . ‘ These heroic people document the decline into chaos and brutality , essentially since 2011 when the Arab Spring reached Syria. Of course there would have been rumblings and less than ideal life leading up to when the resistence began , but nothing like that of the subsequent experiences of this beautiful nation of people . How quickly this country has fallen into chaos , much quicker than it would have been possible to believe and I wish we could say that there is an end in sight .
Another thing that struck me was one man saying , ‘It is not enough to get rid of ISIS , to get rid of Assad. We have to create a government that speaks for its people.’ It was/is a pervading ideology that has allowed ISIS to flourish. It was the world turning a blind eye that has allowed ISIS, and the pervading ideology , to flourish . ISIS has now become a problem for the world .
And us? What are we doing ? Increasing the narrative of fear and division that fuels the very ideology that we are running from . We are feeding the beast with its favourite and most nourishing fodder. We have allowed a government to flourish that does not speak for its people . In a short time we have become a nation divided such as I have never experienced before . I am not saying that what we are living is , in any way , comparable to that of the Syrian people but the words ‘things can fall to chaos much quicker than anyone can believe,’ should heed as a warning to each and every one of us.
In a short time we now have , apparently , the most right wing government in our history . In the past year, our government is being taken to court by the UN over its abuse of human rights to the disabled people of our country . A law has been passed that requires a woman to prove that any third or subsequent child was born of rape should she need any support . Living with the rapist automatically disqualifies any claim. The government is being taken to court (again) over breaking the law with regards to its legal duties to safeguard young people . Doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence does it ? It requires remaining healthy , wealthy , not young, old or disabled . Don’t go under a bus, don’t get divorced and hang on to your ovaries ! It would appear that they are no longer our own .
We live in a country where I am able to rant and rave about what is happening, publish it and not get my head chopped off . This is no small thing. Please let’s keep it this way. As anyone , with half an eyeball open, will have noticed, nobody is immune to anything . Freedom is not something that happens by chance . It is hard fought by ‘ordinary’ people and not just gifted. Definitely not gifted by a government who is telling you how many eggs you’re allowed to use in your ovarian lifetime .
These brave people of ‘Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently’ offered up words of wisdom in how we can all help towards a better world, how we can defeat terrorism and oppression – ‘We have to use the power of good that is in people to overcome evil.’ Wise words indeed. We can all do this – good manners, always , whether to family, friends, strangers, face to face, on social media, good manners. Generosity and help where you can, share what you have with those that have not. Use your voice. It is not enough to say ‘Isn’t it awful.’ Tell the governments what you think . At a recent gathering I met Shirley Williams , a long standing voice of the people , and she said ‘You have no idea how much power you have as a people . You have to use your voice.’ Advice from a woman that knows.
With our silence, we all play a part in evil being able to flourish.