TRT World follows a Syrian refugee in Berlin as he protests the tragic events in his hometown of Aleppo. Once again, protest is the only way to show his opposition, but this time he knows it is likely in vain.
BERLIN - When Anas AlBasha joined the Syrian uprising, he was a second-year civil engineering student participating in the protests back in March, 2012. A bullet from security forces loyal to Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad pierced through the neck of the protester standing next to him. As AlBasha helped transport him to the hospital, he too was shot, three times in the leg. He was forced to go into hiding in the suburbs of his hometown, Aleppo.
"After my injury and being wanted by the security forces, I had to flee the security forces to the suburbs [of Aleppo]," vividly recalled 24-year-old AlBasha. "I realised that I was given a new life."
A few years later, however, AlBasha is still protesting. This time, in front of the Russian Embassy in Berlin on Tuesday, against the Russian involvement in the military campaign of Assad's regime to recapture the remaining parts of opposition-held Aleppo.
As one of the protest organisers, he is in the middle of the crowd, on the shoulders of one of his friends, wearing a black jacket and his prescription glasses. He had fled the bloody conflict three years ago in search of a better life in Germany. He was granted asylum and now works for a German bank.
For many of the protesters here, mostly Syrians, Aleppo is not just another news headline. Because of the large number of Syrians that have flocked to Germany in recent years fleeing the war, the boom of every rocket that falls in Aleppo echoes loudly in Berlin.
The gruesome images emerging from the besieged city show how the devastating effect of a six-year war has reduced the city to rubble. An unknown number of people have died this week alone, the latest tragedy in what is one of the biggest humanitarian crises of the last half-century. Jens Laerke, the United Nations' humanitarian spokesperson, described it this week as a "complete meltdown of humanity."
AlBasha now spends much of his day following the rapid developments, worrying about the fate of his city, and a brother left behind.
"He is in west Aleppo, It has been two days since I last spoke to him. The phone call was quick, he said, âDon't worry about me, I'm OK!'" AlBasha said. "I haven't seen my family for three years!"
Like many families in Aleppo, the AlBashas have been separated by the ongoing war. They have been divided across three countries. Anas AlBasha is one of six siblings â only four of whom have managed to make it into Germany. Each has taken their own path to arrive in the European city. His parents ended up in Gaziantep, one brother was killed last year, and another is still stuck in west Aleppo.
"You had only two choices, either pick up a weapon, or leave," he said.
"My brother in Aleppo is a volunteer paramedic. He tells me about the tragic situation that people are living through, there is a countless number of civilian victims."
Although he arrived in Berlin two years ago, the long and treacherous journey from Aleppo took him a full year. He had to pass through seven countries before launching through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe from Libya, where he says a militia kidnapped and kept him for days without food or water.
Then, soon after his arrival in Berlin, his brother died. AlBasha says that he was killed by a Russian airstrike.
As an activist who wants to raise awareness of the ongoing atrocities in Aleppo, he is wary of being seen through the lens of migration by the media. He says that it is more important for him and his friends to keep trying to remind the world of the Syrian revolution, and the atrocities that they are helplessly watching from afar.
"At the end of the day, my story as a refugee is only a story of the suffering of one individual," he said. "What I want to get out there is the story of an entire city full of families, children, and unarmed civilians."
"They call this a civil war. How is it a civil war when Russia is involved in the fighting with Bashar?" he said, referring to the internationalisation of the conflict, and the foreign forces and aerial bombings that have cumulated in Aleppo this week.
By late Tuesday, the Russian government had announced a halt to all military operations in Aleppo to allow the evacuation of trapped civilians. But the Turkey-brokered ceasefire didn't hold, and the bombardment resumed.
The inevitable fall of Aleppo to the Assad regime forces appears to be imminent. The Berlin protesters, including AlBasha, know that all too well, yet they feel like they have no choice but to keep protesting until the end.
"We realise that us protesting this won't change anything," AlBasha said, as he pointed to the chanting protestors he helped bring together. "We came here to put out the fire of our anger, then we'll go home, lay our heads down, and sleep."
AUTHOR: Suliman Ali Zway