Our goal is clear! Peace in Syria! We oppose the inaction in the face of violence, we want to put pressure on policy makers to find a solution for peace in Syria
The Arab Spring, a series of social protests and military conflicts that took place in the Arab countries in the years 2010-2013, erupted as a result of discontent with life conditions, unemployment, corruption and nepotism of the authorities as well as with limiting civic liberties by autocratic regimes.
In Syria, protests turned into a civil war, waged between those faithful to President Bashar al-Assad and the armed opposition. Their fight evolved into a regional conflict. The escalation was caused by involvement of the neighbouring countries and world powers. The situation is further complicated by the presence of the Islamic extremists of the ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant; in short: the Islamic State) as well as by the conflict between various groups within the opposition.
The lasting conflict resulted in one of the largest humanitarian crises in the modern world. 13.5 million people are seeking help. The situation in the country is extremely difficult. The families fleeing danger – over 10.5 million Syrians have been forced to leave their homes – live in tents or ruins, with the things they managed to collect and take with them. They suffer from shortage of drinkable water and toilets. A quarter of schools are defunct, the healthcare is significantly limited. Many Syrians are trying to escape to Europe, which is both dangerous and costly.
On the twentieth day of the March, they sang at the Lennon Wall in Prague. “You may say I’m a dreamer/ But I’m not the only one/ I hope someday you’ll join us/ And the world will be as one.”
The Civil March for Aleppo set off from Berlin on 26 December 2016. Walking in the direction of the refugees from war-torn areas, they crossed Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey. Anybody could have joined at any given place, for any given distance. “Even two hours make a difference,” Anna Alboth, a traveler, blogger and prime mover behind the March agitated.
“I’m fed up with the feeling of helplessness, with passively watching what’s happening in Syria.” While the air raids were taking place over eastern Aleppo and the world watched images of the dying city and its desperate inhabitants, Anna created a Facebook event and appealed to people to join in.
“Our goal is clear! Peace in Syria! We oppose the inaction in the face of violence; we want to put pressure on policy makers to find a solution for peace in Syria.”
The spontaneous initiative required careful preparations – obtaining permission for the march, public speeches, demonstrations in centres of cities, locations for debates and meetings, board and lodging. It took a mere few weeks for an international team of volunteers to settle all the above.
Despite sporadic acts of animosity on the part of local population, the participants of the March claimed to have witnessed miracles. “If you only watch the news, read the papers and listen to the politicians’ squabble, it is very easy to come to the conclusion that everybody is against everybody, that the world is fucked up and people don’t give a shit. Yes, the world is far from ideal, but make no mistake – the majority of us do care. We experience engagement at every step of our way and so we are thinking: there is hope,” they reported from the route. “We arrived in Litomerice [Czech Republic]. […] It was -11C. There was a knock on our door every two minutes. And each time we opened the door, there was a smiling Czech woman holding a big pot of hot food. By 5 pm we had already had ten pots of delicious, hearty meals. None of the women spoke English. They just smiled modestly, handed the pots to us, and left – we didn’t even manage to take photos!”
The March participants held white flags. They did not want to take sides.