You’ve probably forgotten by now that Syria is famous for ping pong. So what better way to motivate protestors under tight military control than to write encouraging slogans of peace on thousands of ping pong balls and release them to bounce down the streets of Damascus. This is just one of the tactics showcased in Dawlaty’s Arabic booklet – Tactics used in the Syrian Revolution Movement. This is the first Arabic publication of its kind that complies and categorises info-activism in Syria.
Earlier this year, Tactical Tech met with Dawlaty as part of a project to adapt our info-activism resources for activists in the Arab region (read more about our other projects here). As a result of this collaboration Dawlaty created a compilation of Tactics used in the Syrian Revolution. The booklet features 51 case studies, including some that were originally illustrated in 10 Tactics Remixed, 10 Tactics Unstitched and 10 Tactics Arabic, and organises them into nine categories by using the same framework as 10 Tactics Unstitched. It is available online and can be viewed via PDF through Dawlaty’s website. It is also available offline as Dawlaty has printed and will distribute 2,000 copies by the end of 2013.
Through highlighting peaceful methods and tactics still in use in Syria this Arabic booklet is set to inspire activists in Syria to peacefully struggle in new and creative ways. As the booklet is in Arabic and unavailable in English we have showcased below a few choice cases studies from the different categories that are inspirational and creative.
Alternative Media – Features video, radio and live broadcast
International journalists have been banned from reporting from Syria so there is an increased need for citizen journalism to take place. The Sham Network, one of the main news sources in Syria, receives videos and rigorously verifies them (one such method is to hold up a piece of paper showing the date as seen in the photo below) and then spreads the videos through international media outlets such as Al Jazeera. Throughout Syria there are Local Coordination Committee’s (click here for a brief history of LCCs) who organise and report on protests to the Sham Network, amongst others.
Monitoring, documentation and mapping
The Violation Documentation Centre documents violations of human rights in Syria including casualties, the use of chemical and toxic gases and detainees and also undertakes investigations by interviewing defectives and witnesses and publishing their findings online. They use data visualisations to represent their findings.
Sarcastic facebook pages have their own category in Dawlaty’s booklet due to their overwhelming popularity in Syria. Their humour and simplified language are at the heart of their effectiveness. A common thread in these pages is to make light of President Assad’s public statements that the revolution is a conspiracy against him by the Qatari government. The story, believed by the Syrian regime, was that Qatar built huge studios where elaborate scenes were created and shot that showed the regime, as if they were in Syria, in a bad light. This was untrue and made up by the people behind one of the more popular sarcastic facebook pages that the regime then believed. The image below is one such example of this meme.
Creating educational material
Syrian Revolution Places works to educate Syrians to locate and remember small villages that are unknown or lesser known to the average Syrian but have experienced bombings by the regime. Below is an example of material they produce to bring peoples’ attention to small villages that have been attacked. In the picture below they have used food to visualise an attack on a small village. The grapes shown on the left signify the villages’ notoriety for making grapes and the bread on the right represents a bakery that was bombed and hundreds of people died as they waited hungrily for bread.
The hacking group Syrian Revolution Hackers gathers and publishes names, occupations, phone numbers and identity numbers of people who work for the regime including judges and politicians. They leak these names for investigation purposes and to create a list of alleged war criminals for future prosecutions.
Hidden interventions in public spaces
Large cities in Syria are under heavy military control which means that public protests or actions are both difficult and dangerous. To counter this, secret and ingenious interventions in public spaces are taking place to encourage citizens that there are people still dissenting and resisting government control.
The ‘Freedom Speakers’ is one such example. A speaker is placed in a public area high up in a building, such as a mosque, and from this speaker revolutionary songs and cheers are loudly played. When the military arrive to quash the protest all they find is a speaker, so after retrieving it they take it to a police station or military base as evidence. The activists then launch petitions to ‘Free the Speaker!’ as if it was a captured revolutionary, bringing further attention to their campaign.
Another example can be seen in the photo below. It shows a body of water in the centre of a busy roundabout in Damascus that has been dyed red by the group The Red Hands. The colour signifies that the Assad government has blood on their hands. Dying the water would have been relatively easy and quick to do thus protecting the activist and the dye would have remained in the water for quite some time, continually encouraging people under military control.
Due to an increasingly difficult environment more imaginative forms of protests have become necessary. The flash protest, first popular in Damascus but now used in other cities, is one such example of these protests. Detailed below is a plan of a flash protest, where no more than 50 protestors come together from different streets and protest quickly for a couple of minutes.
A collection of multi-media examples of activism in Syria on Jadaliyya