“Nobody Is Free In The World” – Report From Damascus by Gergő Plankó & Bence Gáspár Tamás

Watch this video made by two sharp Hungarian journalists, Gergő Plankó & Bence Gáspár Tamás, who posed as tourists in order to get around Syria and make a film about the Syrian uprising. It is 9:30 minutes. It has English subtitles and wonderful footage of Damascus.

Comments (70)


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51. Sophia said:

# 47 Jad,

I hope the Syrian regime will act with restraint. The only thing that can escalate the situation is the violence on the streets. It is like children, the bully is never the one who is blamed but he is the one who provokes the violence of the other and poses as the victim. He is able to do so because his violence is controlled, it is not a reaction

There are also other provocations in my opinion. Just read the last post on my blog.

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May 4th, 2011, 10:50 pm

 

52. syau said:

Revlon, 38,

The Sectarian poison you are constantly spreading is clouding your vision and affecting your thought process.

The Syrian army is united. It is so because the Syrian people are united, and, the minority that is trying to promote sectarianism wont succeed because every Syrian citizen can see them for what they are and what they stand for, terrorism, destruction, murder, treason and destabalisation.

Tanks are there for the simple reason that they are required.

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May 4th, 2011, 10:54 pm

 

53. Revlon said:

#52 Dear syau,
Al Mushat soldiers are 100% sunni
High ranking officers of the army are nearly all 3alawi
Commanding officers of the 4th briagades are 100% 3alawi.
These are facts.
Wittness accounts of mutiny within the republican Guards have been substantiated

If you have evidence to refute them, please present it.

You find discussing about these facts to be poisonous, yet you are unrestrained in cheering for its deadly consequences

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May 5th, 2011, 12:08 am

 

54. Susan Dirgham said:

Hi Joshua,
It is certainly a slickly made video, and there is some wonderful footage of Damascus and the people, but it is no substitute for quality investigative journalism (I don\’t know that the West is providing any of that in regard to Syria at the moment.).
I was in Damascus I guess at about the same time as these \’journalists\’, but my conclusions are very,very different. For example, I spoke to someone who had been at a demonstration in a suburb on the outskirts, and he said two people were killed but no one saw who shot them. And that was the story for many shootings of civilians – people weren\’t sure who did the shooting. But many soldiers have been deliberately targeted, too. So most Syrians are very careful about drawing conclusions, unlike the Western and mainstream Arab media. If there is one general conclusion I can make about what people think in Damascus it is that they want the demonstrations to stop and the new reforms given a chance to kick in. For the country to get back on its feet again, not for it to descend into sectarian fighting, manipulated by people outside Syria – they say. That is truly a nightmare scenario for them. I think it is fair to say that Syrians are cynical about democracy because the US went into Iraq claiming that it was taking democracy there, and Israel is presented by in the West as a democratic country.
Syrian people are strong and astute was my observation.

Cheers,
Susan

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May 5th, 2011, 12:41 am

 

55. syau said:

Revlon,

Al mushat soldiers are from all types of sects and religions in Syria. They are not 100% Sunni, and that is fact. It may be that the larger majority is, but that is because it is so in Syria.

Whether or not commanding officers are Alawi or Sunni or Druz or Christian, you do not need to continue down the ugly path of sectarianism and spark that debate up again because you feel that the Syrian revolution is losing grip and their true colors have shown.

The army is not shooting at innocent civilians, they are shooting at the armed gangs behind the violence. The army is being shot at by these armed gangs. Many of the armed gangs behind the unrest in Syria have been apprehended. They are all admitting to having arms and been given orders to shoot at civilians and officers. A large amount of weapons have been seized, many hidden in fields and mosques. Snipers are shooting at people and officers from mosques. This is a subsatiated fact.

The Syrian army with its diverse range of religions, is one that is united together along with the government to fight terrorism and the attempted destabalisation in Syria. They are there by the request of the Syrian people. They are there to preserve the safety of the Syrian people. That is a substantiated fact.
What I am cheering on is an end to the violence and the capture of all the terrorist cells which are causing so much destabalisation and death in Syria. I am cheering on the return of peace in Syria, which up until a few weeks ago was fact.

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May 5th, 2011, 12:57 am

 

56. nafdik said:

Norman, you asked what I think is the key question to the whole situation in Syria:

“the reason that the Syrian minorities and i do not mean Alawat, Christians, Armenians but others support the president and the Baath party,”

I agree with you that this is a real issue unlike stories of mundassin and ziono-salafist alliance against the Syria al-samida.

I think that minorities are afraid for a good reason:

– Iranian revolution
– Iraq chaos
– Rise of extremist Islamist movements
– Lebanon civil war

All these experiences have made Syrians weary of letting go of the perceived stability and protection afforded by the regime.

Their modus-operandi is “khara bta3rfo …”

This support for Assads have increased with the opening of the economy so people felt that there were more freedoms in the last 10 years. Bashar looked to them as a modern president who did not carry the heavy handed approach of his father.

My view is that all these reasons are valid if one’s life is limited to eating sleeping and being safe.

Using the same logic one should have supported colonial powers as they offered the same protections to minorities as well as being a modernizing force.

Using the same logic Palestinians can claim that their life before the intifada was much better than now.

On the other hand I think that from the side of the majority sunni there has been little effort extended to remove these fears. What is required is for credible sunni leaders to take a stand and demand a non-sectarian constitution and build the protection of minorities as part of their message for a better Syria.

In particular, the idea of Takfir should be abandoned completely. A return to “aldinu lillah wal watanu liljami3”.

I see the beginning of such ideas, but not fast enough.

In the meantime I think Syrians should take the Grand Risque that they will be able to sort out their problems and live together and not rely on a murderous and increasingly closed mafia to protect them from each other.

Note that I do not say this out of pure ideological principle but from an analysis of the possible future outcomes that I will not bore you with.

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May 5th, 2011, 1:20 am

 

57. jad said:

Sophia,
Very good article! I hope no harm will happen to Dorothy Parvaz.
I agree with you about the regime, we already know how brutal it is and we know that nothing will stop it from turning Syria to hell if it feels that its end is close and at the same time the other sides of this conflict specifically the organizers of the mighty ‘revolution’ also lost logic or probably it doesn’t have any to start with because of its ideology and immaturity as well as the missing of any attractive plan for the future and the nonexistent of any attractive trustworthy figures that Syrians can warm-up to (Shyoukh are the worst figures to listen to, I have no idea why an educated man will listen to an uneducated sectarian and obviously stupid Sheikh and agree with whatever that sheikh say?, it’s amazing how people become so brainless when you use God’s spell on them)
To make things worst the uprising is obviously has been hijacked by too many elements that leading it to nowhere but pool of blood where it’s taking its energy from, blinded by hatred and revenge, nothing more.
I personaly think that we are stuck between two sides who are willing to die than surrender and both of them are unethical in what they do.
From what I read I think we are heading for a long and life costly fight that nobody can be declared a winner, it also seems that if we wont hit the Iraqi example we will hit the Algerian one, where the criminal element of the ‘revolution’ will start killing the military (they are already doing that) and where the military/security will retaliate indiscriminately against the whole society to show who is the boss (it’s doing that too).
My only hope is that we don’t have to see another Hama.

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May 5th, 2011, 1:28 am

 

58. Mina said:

#37 Nafdik
Don’t you live in a country that is making business with China, Russia, or Saudi Arabia?
So where are your moral standards when it come to the way you are fed at the end of the month?

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May 5th, 2011, 4:12 am

 

59. Sophia said:

# 57 Jad,

I agree with you. I hope that people on both sides will abandon the logic of violence. But if the protesters are determined to ruin the country in order to get rid of Assad then the prospects aren’t good because one doesn’t expect the other side not to react.
The only thing that might stop the violence is that known opposition figures rally publicly against it. It is a position that takes a lot of courage, it means to be magnanimous. They can afford to be magnanimous, not the regime. No matter what, when the regime is cornered, it will defend itself, and this is exactly the logic of the actual protests.

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May 5th, 2011, 5:49 am

 

60. nafdik said:

Mina #58, yes I do. I lived in Syria too and dealt with the assad regime. It does not prevent me from saying that they are murderous thugs. Not to their face of course 🙂

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May 5th, 2011, 8:39 am

 

61. norman said:

Nafdik,
Thank you and I agree with you, peaceful transformation will give the minorities the confidence they need,

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May 5th, 2011, 9:29 am

 

62. AIG said:

Sophia,

You write:
“They can afford to be magnanimous, not the regime. No matter what, when the regime is cornered, it will defend itself, and this is exactly the logic of the actual protests.”

How can this be true. The regime have all the power and it is the protesters that have to be magnanimous? It doesn’t make sense. Why doesn’t the regime have a responsibility to compromise?

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May 5th, 2011, 9:55 am

 

63. Sophia said:

AIG,

They already did. However the protesters are not going for a compromise, they want the regime down.

I think the protesters have already won in a sense by weakening the regime and the economy but they are not satisfied with their current victory, they want the whole thing down.

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May 5th, 2011, 10:11 am

 

64. jad said:

Sophia,
I agree with you again, on your two points:
– The regime will react when it’s attacked and cornered
– Your solution is the one that will work, other that that things will stay the same, the opposition should have some courage and logic to save the country and sit with the regime on the negotiation table after asking people in the street to stay home so logic can take over emotion and to spare people’s lives.

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May 5th, 2011, 10:15 am

 

65. Sophia said:

Jad,

I think if the opposition does nothing and still call for the end of the regime* and doesn’t want a dialogue with the regime, if I were in the position of the regime I would take the initiative of identifying and inviting opposition leaders to sit at the table and offer them real concessions, like multiparty system and so on.

The problem with concessions offered in these Arab uprisings (Egypt and Tunisia) at the last minute is that they weren’t credible because they were offered in from of TV cameras and not in front of real persons.

The Syrian opposition is already divided and if Bashar can find some to sit with him at the table and offer them real concessions, he and they can save the country and discredit thuggish and ill intentioned elements in the protests.

The regime must give Bashar free hands to negotiate with some elements in the opposition. Otherwise the prospects are bleak, Iraq or Algeria as you said, and this is what enemies of Syria want.

* I hate to use this term because the Baath party in Syria is diverse and there must be silent dissent about how to handle things but it is a short cut.

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May 5th, 2011, 11:17 am

 

66. Jad said:

Sophia,
You are right, there is a need for a roundtable to bring oppositions and the regime together to discuss the future of Syria.
I read before that the regime did try to contact and invite some opposition figures to meet but they refused, like Mr. Ghalyoun, I also read that the regime is trying again by sending Mm. Bouthaina Shaaban to talk to them individually to organize such event but no news of that yet.
Hopefully some oppositions can put Syria best interest over their egos and save the country.

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May 5th, 2011, 11:51 am

 

67. William Scott Scherk said:

Regarding Jad and Sophia’s discussion of ‘negotiating table’ where opposition and government notables can have a dialogue, I thought the question of identifying the opposition forces should be rather easy.

Jad seeks an opposition that will sit with the regime at the table. Sophia suggests that the ‘regime’ should take initiative, identify the opposition leaders and invite them to the table.

These suggestions seem to be forthright and thoughtful on the surface, yet is it not true that the government has already identified particular members of ‘the opposition’? Reports from a variety of sources indicate that opposition members are well-known to the ‘regime’ and are currently in detention. At least some of the folks detained by the state may turn out to be ‘opposition’ and not ‘terrorists.’

For example, the hundreds if not thousands invited by the state for ‘discussions’ or to ‘come for talks’ with the regime seem to be ‘opposition’ members. Perhaps a deal can be made: instead of charges of “maligning the prestige of the state,” and the perfunctory sentences of 3 years in prison, the detained opposition can be charged with the task of preparing a detailed plan for reform — and sentenced to three years of ‘dialogue.’

Similarly, there are at least one hundred opposition leaders who signed the Damascus Declaration. Those who are not in jail or in exile for that attempt at ‘dialogue’ can be reinvited by the state for ‘talks.’ And those who currently are guests of the state in Syria’s progressive detention facilities can be invited to the table, in shackles if necessary. They can be issued paper and pencil and perhaps write down the names of other opposition members who are currently hesitant to ‘talk.’ Those people can then be escorted to the kind of dialogue that Jad and Sophia have in mind.

This is surely a good start to the necessary dialogue — identify the opposition and usher them into facilities designed to help them express themselves and their opposition to certain government policies, to lay out for the state their plans for ‘reform.’

As it seems to me, if the state is having difficulties starting the ‘dialogue,’ they can use the subtle pressures of the Syrian Silent Majority — those whom we are assured by Syria experts like Jad and Sophia do exist in large numbers. Perhaps Sophia and Jad could circulate a petition to collect names, numbers and phone numbers of these Silent Majority Syrians.

Now, there must be criteria for inclusion of course. I think it is clear that the experts on Syria like Jad, Souri, Alex, and WD can offer that criteria. The sad fact they point out is that the delegation of supposed ‘opposition’ from Dera’a are actually mostly, if not entirely armed thugs, terrorists, sectarian monsters and so on. The careful and efficient investigations by the proper state authorities currently underway in the shield will likely lead to the release of those few opposition members who are not guilty of being monsters. The speed with which the monsters have received three year sentences suggest a similar efficiency for identifying those who simply want ‘reform’ and ‘dialogue.’ These people are no doubt being prepared for release, that they may join the Silent Majority.

Another option is to develop the states ‘intelligence’ apparatus — giving it a subsidiary task of identifying ‘courageous and logical’ opposition members to be summoned to a future negotiation table.

“Come for talks” with the regime seems to be a constructive call by Jad and Sophia.

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May 5th, 2011, 12:46 pm

 

68. why-discuss said:

Jad, William

I think most experienced opposition leaders worry that they may look like traitors to hardliners if they collaborate with the current government and they are afraid to be killed. While the current regime has rarely killed opposition leaders and preferred to jail them, I am not sure the opposition hardliners will hesitate to kill an opposition leader they consider as a traitor. They can then conveniently put the blame on the government.
Therefore I think that these willing opposition leaders are waiting that their security and the country security is assured, then they will appear.

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May 5th, 2011, 6:32 pm

 

69. Usama said:

I’m beginning to get the urge to make a website showing the hundreds of fake videos that have been posted claiming violence by our security forces and army. It bothers me that those Hungarian journalists came to Syria with the pretext of videos they saw online, and are clearly reflecting about Syria today through those same videos. Al-Jazeera English, today, still has tens of videos that I pointed out to them to be fake. For example, the video of security forces trampling on cuffed civilians, that actually happened in Iraq, but with audio editing to suggest the perpetrators are Alawi militias, is still on their website. They also have many videos from Yemen, and it is so clear too that the flags they carry are Yemeni. I keep telling myself that I shouldn’t worry and that everything will become clear to everyone later, but then I remember how all the media ignores mutilated corpses of police and soldiers and accuses them of shooting at peaceful protesters. Has anyone else here noticed that more than 150 satellite channels have magically appeared with the Syria events? They’re mostly based in either Europe of the Gulf. The Gulf based ones are the clearest in showing a strong desire to wipe out anything non-Sunni in Syria.

I strongly believe those fatwa-throwing sheikhs in the Gulf are paid for a certain agenda. They preach to their followers that only Sunnis are true Muslims and that Bashar al-Asad is a kafir Alawi with a kafir regime that suppresses Islam in Syria. The reason I think those shiekhs are paid and don’t really believe what they preach is because Morocco has had an Alawaite dynasty for a few hundred years to this day, but they have all been supportive of that regime. I’m not sure what Ben Ali is, but he’s also not Sunni, and the Gulf also supported him before he fleed into their arms.

I feel disgusted talking about sectarian strife in Syria. Sectarian differences have been manipulated by hundreds of years of occupation and I never thought I would see sectarian language in Syria like I am seeing today. Enough of this bs about Israel wanting Bashar to stay. There will be huge celebrations there if the regime were to fall. Hezbollah would collapse and Hariri would sign that peace deal in heart beat. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt already said they would want to keep friendly relations with Israel, and as we’ve seen videos by their leadership of their support of the Syrian MB movement, the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria wouldn’t hesitate to sign a biased “peace” treaty. There was even a Wikileaks diplomatic cable published by al-Akhbar last month where Hariri was urging the US to embrace and support the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria to overthrow Asad and sign that treaty right away.

I am very confused by Dr. Landis posting about fake videos and shady media reporting, and surrounding such blog material with Western propaganda fed by all the “Syrian” “human rights” “committees” that have proven time and time again to be pumping fraudulent report upon fraudulent report.

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May 9th, 2011, 1:54 pm

 

70. Shami said:

What you say is what the syrian tv and puppets said and and it was swallowed by the supporters of the regime :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rh9fPa9k_zY

The king of Morocco is an alawite which means ,whose ancestor is the caliph Ali,we say a Hashimi,Hassani or Hussayni in Orient ,there is no relation with the nusayri sect of Syria.

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May 9th, 2011, 3:05 pm

 

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