Translation by Sheila on Walls
This is what Bashar Alassad said during his meeting with us:
by Houssam Arian on Friday, November 18, 2011 at 3:03pm (from FB)
First, I would like to point out that I refused to publish the disastrous aspect of our debate earlier. What I said, was published by Alsafir Newspaper in one sentence that boils down to this: We went to propose solutions, not to ask for personal favors, despite that, some of the people present did have personal favors to ask. I would also like to say that I resent the question: “what are your demands?” that we heard over and over from every regime representative that we met and earlier over the broadcast of “the students’ voice”. It felt like we were there on a begging mission.
On May 5, 2011 and through a phone call that I received from the Student union of Syrian students, I was informed that my name came up along with a group of other Syrian youth from all over Syria, to attend a meeting with the president Alassad to discuss the current situation. I was also told that the meeting will take place in two days, i.e. on May 7, 2011. I accepted and traveled to Damascus to attend the meeting at the presidential palace. We all went in. A group of 14 young men and women. After they welcomed us and we introduced ourselves, the meeting started. I chose to be the last to ask any questions about problems and solutions, hoping not to steal anybody else’s ideas without realizing it. Here is what amazed me in terms of the answers that we received:
We have to activate the role of the Baath party, because in the last few decades, the Syrian citizens did not feel the importance of the ruling party in the government.
This was the president’s answer to a young woman who came from Homs, when she asked about the proposed idea to cancel article 8 of the constitution with the utmost speed, so that we avoid arguments and allow the opposition free speech and permit the establishment of parties opposed to the Baath party.
Military service, in its current condition is in fact national service. Even if you thought of a doctor manning a check point and fighting. In doing so, he is in fact serving his nation.
This was the answer that one of the participants from Qamishli received, when he suggested that we should transform the concept of military service into national service. This will allow us to use the young conscripts in their fields of expertise, like sending engineers to participate in government projects or sending teachers to teach in underserved areas. This will achieve two objectives: first, is covering all the schools in Syria and second, is saving a good amount of money that can be used to improve the schools infrastructure in some areas.
It was the turn of a guy from Hasakeh, who had a simple request: can we stop the beatings and killings by the intelligence services. If they are trying to arrest someone, why don’t they do it with a little respect?
The answer was that we are working on training police forces specializing in dealing with demonstrations. They will start their work within the next few months.
I believe that these were the most important questions asked before it was my turn and I asked three questions:
The first was that since the government account of what is happening in Syria is the truth and not lies and fabrications, why don’t we allow the press to come to Syria and see what is going on to prove once and for all that the Syrian government is telling the truth.
The answer was that we do not need the outside press for two reasons: first, because press agencies have reporters all over the world except in Syria, this is why they need to get their news from our Syrian press and we will give them the truth about what is happening on our soil, second, our press throughout these past years never had the chance to shine on the world stage. Today it is taking advantage of this opportunity to increase its expertise in this field.
My second question was: Arabs in general tend to lean to the emotional side. This characteristic is a good one, but can prove detrimental if it is not dealt with properly. This is why I suggest that the intelligence services avoid random arrests and treat detainees in a humane and civilized manner.
The answer was that yes, we are emotional, and to overcome what you talked about, we should first and foremost, follow the truthful press on this earth. this will help guide us on where to go with our emotions. I have also answered your friend that we are working on training the police to deal with the demonstrators with respect.
My third question was: since you have the leadership, the wisdom and the judicial system, why haven’t we seen till this day any trial for those who are complicit and guilty of killing Syrians like Atef Najeeb?
The answer was with a lowered head: yes, Atef Najeeb is complicit, but no one filed a law suit against him. In addition, he is my first cousin and I have not seen him in 22 years.
Here I could not control myself and dared to interrupt him to point out that only yesterday a few of my friends were arrested during a demonstration that they were not even participating in. When we went to try to get them out through the judicial system, we were told: who are you going to sew? Here he asked me to give him the names of my detained friends, but I had one more question: what is the fate of the other detainees? He continued addressing the group saying:
yesterday there were 19 people arrested in Seif Aldowleh, all of whom are hobos.
I interrupted him again to say: of the 19 that you just mentioned, 5 are doctors. In addition, the arrests that night exceeded 200. Then I continued: and how about the new demonstration law?
His answer was: we do not care who is demonstrating, rather who is documenting the event and sending it to the foreign press.
After a few seconds, his personal guard came in to tell us that our time was up. Before we left, the president asked if one of us would volunteer to appear on Aldunya news channel live, to talk about our meeting with him. He received no answer from anyone of us. Everyone was quiet for a little while, when he interjected: has it reached that level? The answer came from me and the person next to me simultaneously: and a lot more.