Samy Amkieh, Contributing Writer
The Syrian revolutionary flag originates from Syrian independence from France. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

As a Syrian American, I became invested in the revolution at a young age. I shared fundraisers, read the news and stayed up-to-date on what was happening in my home country. I even joined Students Organize for Syria. However, my SOS experience revolved around bake sales and drives.

I never viewed my actions as a way to build power through awareness. 

That all changed when I started learning about the Palestinian cause and, interestingly, was drawn into advocacy for my own people through the suffering of another. However, much like in life, we don’t know the path we take until we’re already on it, and I found myself going headfirst into organizing against Israeli apartheid and the injustices of settler colonialism. 

As I expanded my understanding of Palestinian history and geopolitics, I realized that I lacked the same knowledge on Syria — the history of political struggles, the rise and fall of regimes and the undying influence of European colonialism.

Slowly, it dawned on me that what’s happening in Syria, much like in Palestine, has intricate roots dating back to the Ottoman Empire and French occupation meant to destabilize local politics by dividing land that shared more in common than what divided it. 

It was in those weeks and months that I delved deeper into Syria’s political and socioeconomic history, exploring the huge divides in Syrian society that were used to further divide people into two sides: regime and opposition. 

It’s both horrifying and fascinating to uncover the truths of Syrian political movements in the ‘80s. In 1982, the regime responded to an anti-government uprising in Hama, Syria with extreme suppression, resulting in the massacre of thousands of innocent people. 

Due to extreme censorship, there lacks documentation of the perpetual systemic oppression of Syrians. As such, many Syrians have only gotten a glimpse of these moments through stories told by their elders. All that persists is a traumatic oral history to tell future generations. It runs in parallel to the diasporic struggles of Palestinians. 

For anyone looking to test their knowledge of Syria, look no further than the struggles of our neighbors. 

My fellow activists offered me a bridge into comprehending Syria’s troubling past and terrifying present. Palestine drew me into organizing and advocacy, but other movements against oppression continue to inspire me to never lose hope for a free Syria. 

We must be allies to other oppressed communities and stay engaged in their causes. Activists for Palestine, Yemen, Syria and other causes need intersectional solidarity. 

Immerse yourself in other activism and advocacy spaces, learn from them and apply your newfound knowledge to the Syrian cause. Stay hopeful and resilient. Your work is crucial in attaining Syrian liberation.

Samy Amkieh is a junior at Brown University with a concentration in Public Health. He is involved in Students Organize for Syria, Students for Justice in Palestine and Brown University Students for an Equitable Pandemic Response. His social media is linked below.