World, Life, Middle East

Syria's 'graffiti boy' recalls start of deadly conflict

Mouawiya Syasneh was only 14 years old when he spray-painted anti-regime graffiti on his school in Daraa

Maımaıtımıng Yılıxıatı   | 14.03.2018
Syria's 'graffiti boy' recalls start of deadly conflict Mouawiya Syasneh (20), the boy who started the civil rebellion poses for a photo near the Graffiti reads "Doctor, your turn," during and an exclusive interview in Daraa, Syria on March 14, 2018. ( Ammar Al Ali - Anadolu Agency )


DARAA, Syria

A boy credited with prompting Syria’s uprising against the Bashar al-Assad regime spoke to Anadolu Agency on the seventh anniversary of the start of the conflict. 

Mouawiya Syasneh was only 14 years old in early 2011, when he and his friends spray-painted “Next it’s your turn, doctor!” -- a reference to President Bashar al-Assad's earlier career-- on the wall of his school in the city of Daraa. 

“We were encouraged by the anti-regime uprisings taking place at the time in Tunisia and Egypt,” Syasneh recalls. 

He and his friends decided to spray-paint the slogan after being harassed by police stationed near their school.

Shortly afterward, Syasneh and his friends were detained by police. 

“They tortured us,” Syasneh said. “But they released us after people began pouring into the streets when the anti-regime demonstrations began.” 

Since then, Syasneh and his compatriots have continued to oppose Assad, hoping to eventually see the end of the regime -- and the fighting that has destroyed much of the country.

“I’m proud of what I did seven years ago,” he said. “We saw the regime’s true face and the uprising was triggered -- at least partially -- as a result of our revolutionary graffiti.”

From 1971 to 2000, Syria was ruled by strongman Hafez al-Assad. Following the latter’s death, his son, Bashar, assumed power and followed his father’s tradition of heavy-handed authoritarian governance.

In early 2011, the regime cracked down on pro-democracy demonstrators with unexpected ferocity, sparking a devastating civil war that continues until today. 

According to UN figures, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict.

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