Maha Ghrer was a teacher when the Syrian revolution broke out. She participated in the protests of 2011. When the revolution turned into a war, she founded the Mustafa Qarman school in her hometown Aleppo with the organization “Kesh Malek”. On Dutch Liberation Day 2015, journalist Pieter Stockmans interviewed her for the Dutch peace organization PAX. Here you can watch a video of the interview.
Pieter and Maha talked about the three phases in the Syrian conflict:
- the beginning of the uprising, the hope and strength of the people;
- the plight of activists caught between the extreme violence of the Syrian regime and religious extremists;
- the way up: can peace activists ever becoming the focus of the Syrian uprising again?
Talking about war and liberation during a music festival was not easy. But the festival was held during Liberation Day, the celebration of the liberation after the Second World War in the Netherlands. Maha was able to convince some people to support the huge efforts of Syrians to offer a future to their children. So the Syrians will soon be able to celebrate their own liberation after the civil war.
‘It’s difficult to protect yourself against hate in a situation of extreme violence. I fight against hate by not focusing on my enemy, but on the goal ahead: justice, peace, freedom, and democracy. But not everyone is strong and resilient like me.’
‘Justice can replace revenge. It is the fear of revenge that keeps a war going; that’s why a process of justice can protect the peace after fighters lay down their arms. On the other hand, it is the fear of justice that makes war criminals fight for their survival.’
‘My dream is to see the Syrian war criminals in an international court. That will be the true victory of the people.’
‘We are always in the dark, because the spotlights of the media are always on hate and violence. But we exist. There is a beautiful picture behind the horror, a call to every world citizen with a conscience.’
‘IS kills in front of the cameras, Assad kills behind closed doors. He killed thousands of people by bombs and torture.’
‘My hope is that one day in Syria, there will be music festivals like this one, where all the people can celebrate freedom in equality and mutual recognition.’
Throughout the day, visitors of the festival helped paint a solidarity banner for the students and teachers of the Mustafa Qarman school.