Rima Marrouch: “Killing is a reality: the thoughts of Syrian defector”
Abu Obeida is a defector from the state military who joined the Free Syrian Army in December. He tells us how it feels to take part in violent clashes, and what it means to shoot a fellow Syrian. An interview by Orwa al-Moqdad* and Rima Marrouch.
The interview shows the conflicting feelings and dilemmas that many Syrians share. In the last year the violence in Syria was primarily one-sided from the government. As the Free Syrian Army is conducting offensive attacks, however, both sides are killing Syrian citizens. The views of Abu Obeida provide personal insight to the conflicting feelings of a fighter when he takes the life of another person.
Abu Obeida’s first fight began in an area of greater Damascus, when a group of about ten people protected a demonstration and clashed with security forces. In his own words:
“Fear is what controlled me when I went out with the FSA for the first time.
When it starts, all the heaviness disappears under the sound of bullets. It’s similar to being in narcosis. Your brain works to do different things. It’s attempting first to protect you and then to make you kill too. It’s a state of mind; if you don’t kill you will die.
When the clashes are over, your brain returns to full consciousness, and brings with it fear. The narcosis is over. You see bodies of your friends and think, ‘Is it possible that something like this will happen to me?’
I killed many people.
When you kill from a distance, you see that the person falls because of the bullets. You don’t feel anything, as if his presence has no value in this hell that both of you have been thrown into.
But when it is from a close distance and you see his pain, it is terrifying. You feel bitterness; I took this man’s life. It causes weird contradictions: strength and fear. Strength raises a big question in your mind: ‘Why did I take this man’s life?’
When you are the killer, the situation changes dramatically. The man’s death makes you feel that he is the victim and you are the perpetrator.
You can see in his eyes his dreams, his wife, his children, and his home. It is a common desire that is more sincere than anything else happening. In the end, which one of us doesn’t want to go back home?
I ask myself if I’m still a normal man after all this. I try to show to people that I am, but I know that I’m not the same person I was.
But when the revolution is over, my war will end. I will leave my weapon and go back to my normal life, because I had a life before the revolution. I want to continue my studies and fulfill my dreams. But if the same injustice that we are living in now happens again, I will go back and fight.”
*Al-Moqdad is a Syrian writer and journalist
Edits: Andrew Bossone
An extended Q&A (in Arabic) with Abu Obeida was published in Syrian online weekly Souriatna
Rima Marrouch is a Syrian-Polish freelance reporter. She was brought up in Homs in the 90s, when Homs was a happier place. She has reported from Libya and Syria for the LA Times. She also worked for the “Committee to Protect Journalists/Middle East and North Africa Program”. Today, she is based in Lebanon, in Beirut.
You can follow Rima on Twitter and write her under @RimaMarr.blog comments powered by Disqus