A grain of sand in the desert

When I stand in the mirror and look at my face, I see an old person who is over fifty years old, or even more.

My life in the last 13 years made me feel so old. Life of the repeated disorientation.

We have been depraved and arrested. Then we escaped. Now we have no longer a homeland. We have lost our friends, our homes, and the streets of our cities in which we grew up. We have forgotten our dreams, and we have begun to lose our memories as well. 

Yet, we are still trying.

Our dreams are simple, we want justice, freedom and dignity.

Who are we? The refugees from Syria.

In Syria nearly half a million people were killed, around 200.000 women, children and men got arrested. We, who fled the county, we are still hoping for a change.

Building peace in a palace

A conference Under the heading „Safe and Neutral Environment“ took place at the Kosk Palace, on the Geneve Lake, in the city of Montreux. Many Syrian civil society organizations and activists gathered to analyze the general context and global political developments related to Syria. 

Since 2018, we have started these meetings as a Syrian civil space from several regions inside and outside of Syria, in the neighboring countries of asylum. Our goal was to find common ground and civil solutions to build peace in Syria, away from political tensions.

This year conference was focused on the possibility to create a safe and neutral environment in Syria where a civil society organization can function successfully.

A safe environment means an environment in which citizens enjoy equal rights and duties, in which powers are exercised separately, transparently, clearly and participatory, policies within it do not change with the change of alliances, roles vary and are exercised within the limits of the role without exceeding; its opportunities are based on experiences and skills, not relationships and favoritism, in which the rules of justice are applied.

We met with political officials in the Swiss Foreign Ministry, the European Union, the office of the UN envoy for Syria, and some diplomats concerned with the Syrian case.

The political situation is changing in the region, some Arab countries have begun to support the Syrian regime. All of these things put great pressure on civil society in Syria, because the Syrian regime does not recognize its role, but rather considers it as the enemy.

Recommendations from the conference


  • Constitutional, legal, and administrative reform, as well as a security reform which will abolish unjust laws and establish a safe environment based on human rights legislation.
  • To ensure an effective contribution of civil society in addressing the ongoing violations of human rights. For example, the establishment of an independent Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Court.

(medium and short term)

  • Grant of Syrian nationality for the “stateless” children born as refugees. 
  • Advocacy on women’s issues in Syria.
  • Participation of civil society in the development and implementation of these mechanisms.
  • Developing proposals across civil society on how to create mechanisms and governance for human rights bodies and courts.

My personal conclusion

These demands have not changed for 13 years. All the countries, media, press, human rights organizations, the United Nations, and the international community are familiar with our demands.

At the moment the role of civil society organizations is to remind, to make pressure, to advocate, and to monitor what is going on in Syria. We do not have a military force or an army to defend civilians, but we do have a will and wish to protect the civilians.

I am a refugee in Switzerland. I do not have the real power to make changes. But at least I will keep talking and raising my voice even if I am not heard, and spread my influence, here in Switzerland.

I hope the Swiss government will not ally or normalize relations with the Syrian regime in the future. 

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