Syrians Are War Correspondents, Too

A response to Terry Anderson's "Running Toward Danger."

Dear Mr. Anderson,

I read "Running Toward Danger" yesterday and I had to tell you how much it moved me. Syria is being ripped to shreds, the people are suffering, and the cities are being destroyed. We didn't expect this degree of ruthlessness as a response to the people's demands for freedom after 40 years of Assad tyranny, but as we know well, freedom is not free.

Your thoughts on war correspondents sacrificing everything for the truth applies not only to the brave journalists like Austin and Marie and Anthony and the dozens of journalists inside Syria now, but also to the Syrian men and women who stood behind the cameras, documenting the truth. We have lost dozens of citizen journalists in this revolution. Young men who were students, employees, fathers one day and became threatening targets the next day because of their cell phones, cameras, and laptops. They knew Syrians have been silent too long. Last year, they decided to never cover up Assad's crimes with silence again. And they are paying a heavy price for it.

Dear Mr. Anderson,

I read "Running Toward Danger" yesterday and I had to tell you how much it moved me. Syria is being ripped to shreds, the people are suffering, and the cities are being destroyed. We didn’t expect this degree of ruthlessness as a response to the people’s demands for freedom after 40 years of Assad tyranny, but as we know well, freedom is not free.

Your thoughts on war correspondents sacrificing everything for the truth applies not only to the brave journalists like Austin and Marie and Anthony and the dozens of journalists inside Syria now, but also to the Syrian men and women who stood behind the cameras, documenting the truth. We have lost dozens of citizen journalists in this revolution. Young men who were students, employees, fathers one day and became threatening targets the next day because of their cell phones, cameras, and laptops. They knew Syrians have been silent too long. Last year, they decided to never cover up Assad’s crimes with silence again. And they are paying a heavy price for it.

I don’t know what my dead friends would have answered your question, "Was it worth it?" But I do know what the ones who are alive and still film and photograph in Homs, Aleppo, Hama, Idleb, Daraa, and across Syria would say to the question, "Is it worth it to die for your camera?" They would say, "Yes." Because they know for the first time in their lives, their voice matters and they are doing the most important job, to tell the truth while so many are telling lies. Telling the truth, in a way, has become even more important than freedom. It’s the road to freedom.

I’ve been writing about the revolution since the beginning. I didn’t expect to take on the role I now have when I began; telling my stories evolved into telling Syria’s stories. I only cared about one thing: telling the truth. Sometimes it seems like an impossible task. And many times the truth hurts. But we have to keep going and hope that what’s good in the people prevails over the evil.

When I read your piece, I remembered Anthony Shadid, a journalist who changed my life, and how much I miss his voice of truth. And I thought of Austin too. I pray he is safe and will return to his family soon.

Most of all, I wanted to tell you that your words made a difference to me. God bless you.

With much respect,
Amal

Amal Hanano is the pseudonym of a Syrian-American writer. She has published a series of essays on the Syrian revolution at Jadaliyya.com. Follow her on Twitter: @AmalHanano.

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