Author: evabartlett

two schools shelled in Damascus, killing one child and injuring 65 more

This morning, “rebels” shelled a Damascus elementary school, killing one child and injuring at least 62 more, some of whom are critically-injured, some of whom lost limbs.  A second school–a kindergarten–was also shelled the same morning, in the same densely-inhabited Christian area of Damascus, injuring 3 more children.

Below is an interview with Mother Agnes, on the shelling of the school and the situation in Syria in general.

Old Damascus city scenes

Scenes from old Damascus, including the Umayyad mosque

Culture and history overdose in a short space of time. Definitely an area that begs repeated visits.

Wandering around the mosque, I met a variety of women, children, men. Some women picnicking in the mosque’s courtyard asked me to join them; two kids, Majed and Ghelia (“expensive”) befriended me and accompanied me around, also gave me a short interview.

The scene was tranquility, cooing pigeons, gorgeous light, gorgeous flowers and scents.  It’s important to keep in mind that Syrians are struggling to live life as normal during this manufactured chaos.

The souk (market) was bustling with the usual scenes in Arab markets: spice vendors, freshly pressed juice vendors, Gold jewelry shops, odds and ends. I got my jasmin essence fix at the first perfumery I came across, and my zataar fix at the first spice vendor in my path.

Despite the aforementioned tranquility, the fascinating alleys and very pleasant people I met, one is also always aware that somewhere in the vicinity battles are being waged between the Syrian army and the seemingly endless variety of largely-foreign mercenaries.  The ancient Christian town, Maaloula (from which I’m told most of the Christian inhabitants have fled after, as in other Christian areas, being repeatedly attacked by mercenaries) is said to have been re-gained by the Syrian army (see here and here also).

But for now, I’ll share these old Damascus scenes and hope that it remains as largely tranquil as it seems.

scenery from Syria

Scenes from Syrian countryside and cities, because it is important to understand (at the most basic level) a bit about the  layout, the rich and diverse culture, and what is “normal”…three years of attacks aside. And there is, actually, contrary to media in my own country, support for the president here. I remain open to meeting with and hearing from Syrians (not foreign mercenaries) who disagree with the current president, flat out hate him, or anywhere in between. Until now, however, having been in Damascus, Latakia, and Homs, I’ve met supporters only, and unabashed ones at that. Please keep in mind, this in not me championing him or his government; I am reporting what Syrians have said to me. And when I hear otherwise, I’ll report that too.

Upcoming posts will include:

-the recent “rebel” car-bombings (plural) in Homs, targeting civilian areas

-interviews with the displaced from the greater Aleppo/Idlib area

-interviews with average Syrians and with participants of the peace delegation I’m on

-the words of Syria’s grand Mufti, whose son was killed by “rebels” and who yet preaches forgiveness

-a meeting with opposition members, supportive of elections and of the current president Assad

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Gaza in Crisis: a talk I gave in Austin, TX, in March 2014

Since, as I’ve mentioned in recent posts, the issue of the Israeli-manufactured misery in Gaza must be kept in the minds of those who know about and support Palestinians in Gaza–and ideally introduced into the minds of good people who otherwise are unaware–I’m posting a video of a talk I gave a few weeks ago in Austin, with big thanks to Jeffry Zavala [ZGraphix http://zgraphix.org] who filmed and edited the talk and put it out there. Link re the Amira Hass reference. Link re IOF attacks even as far as 2 km from border. Link re the remotely-operated machine-gun towers. Link to Farmers routinely under Israeli army fire.

I am in Syria at the moment, educating myself on the reality of Syrians’ own internationally-manufactured suffering, but Gaza remains in my heart and I hope yours as well.

conversations in Syria

Damascus

Damascus

I arrived Wednesday afternoon to Damascus and am sharing some photos from en route and one area of the city.  Sticking my camera in anyone’s face who wishes to talk and will share their thoughts here, too.

Whereas yesterday en route I noted to myself the surreality of being in Syria, a place I have read much about and am aware has been torn apart over the past few years, and seeing such beauty and relative calm along the route to Damascus and later in the particular area of Damascus I am in, this morning reality came crashing in, some sort of mortar attack roughly two hundred metres away.

explosion, Damascus, Apr 10 morning

explosion, Damascus, Apr 10 morning

Those outside, mostly people dressed in work clothes, scrambled along the streets to get where they were destined before any other attacks. I don’t know the origin of the mortar; some speculate that mercenaries in the hills fired it toward the city.

Raslan Khadour, Dean of Economics, Damascus University

Raslan Khadour, Dean of Economics, Damascus University

This afternoon, I chatted with Professor Raslan Khadour, Dean of the Faculty of Economics at Damascus University. He spoke of the situation in Syria, in general, and the impact on university studies. Like others I’ve had the chance to speak with already, he sees what is happening in and to Syria as part of a wider geo-political strategy.

“The problem is not a Syrian one only. It was not only in Syria, but also Tunisia, Egypt and other countries. It’s a foreign plan for various countries in the region.  There is intervention by the west, especially American, British and Israeli intelligence. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have given the rebels a lot of money.”

“The terrorist groups have stolen stores of wheat, in Aleppo in the north, along the Turkish border. They export it, sell it to Turkey. The west’s blockade is against the Syrian people, not against Assad.”

“The biggest problem we face at university is security. Sometimes they fire shells at us. Getting to and from the university can be impossible sometimes, because the terrorists cut the road. They bomb bridges in some areas.”

Syrian refugees in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley, Fayda camp

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Fayda Syrian refugee camp, Lebanon

In Zahle, a region in the Bekaa Valley, eastern Lebanon, the day before crossing into Syria, we visit one of the many areas where refugee tent-homes have sprung up over the past few years. Many of the displaced Syrians in the Fayda camp are from Aleppo, Homs, Idlib, Raqqa…

 

The UN reports that there are around one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, but these are registered refugees, the number of un-registered refugees isn’t known. The camp we go to is not one of the UN organized camps; people in Fayda rent their plot of cement, erect simple dwellings of metal poles and scraps of plastic banners. While the homes themselves are sturdier than dwellings I’ve seen in occupied Palestine (particularly Susiya, whose residents were expelled by the standard Israeli policy of declaring a Palestinian area a “closed military zone,” or the tents of Palestinians in Gaza whose homes were bombed or demolished by the Israeli army), the living conditions of the Syrians in Fayda are dismal. Most notably, the water is contaminated with the raw sewage running through ditches flanking the camp.
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reflections on Gaza, Syria, the bigger picture

Little man Mahmoud with an iron grip, charming demeanour, and way about him beyond that of a 5 year old; Fayda tent settlement (un-registered refugee area)

Little man Mahmoud with an iron grip, charming demeanour, and way about him beyond that of a 5 year old; Fayda tent settlement (un-registered refugee area)

 

I started this blog in July 2008, when I had never yet been to Gaza nor knew if I would actually arrive. I was, at the time, in Egypt, hoping one of two miracles would occur: the Egyptian authorities would stop their complicity in imposing the lock-down of Gaza; Palestinians would  again blow down the wall between Gaza and Egypt.

Neither happened.

But an inspirational group of everyday people from around the world presented a third option: sailing to Gaza. 

Now, five and a half years after joining the third boat to Gaza, two Israeli wars on Gaza (and uncountable IOF bombings) later, I remain dedicated to keeping Gaza in the minds of whomever I can speak with or share via this blog.  The Palestinians of Gaza continue to suffer under entirely manufactured miseries. Plural. They educated, competent human beings who have survived and continue to do so in the more dire, most sadistically-contrived circumstances.  They don’t need our pity, but they do deserve our solidarity.  And so, making a short point long, I’d like to say that I continue in my own efforts, in solidarity with Palestine…and that in my political awakening I’ve become more informed on geopolitical games in the entire region.

Thus, while the blog is called In Gaza and my first and remaining intention was/is to highlight the manufactured suffering of Palestinians in Gaza, and will continue writing/sharing on Gaza on “In Gaza”, I have the opportunity to visit and share on Syria, the destruction and suffering of which my own countries (America and Canada) are complicit.

For the next undetermined period I’ll be blogging and re-posting publishings on Syria, again with the sole intent of shedding light on what is and is not a complex issue: Syria is in the crosshairs of the same powers that ravaged Iraq and Libya, to name but two, in the name of “human rights” and “democracy.” The complexities lie in the media misinformation on who is at fault or not and the obfuscation of influence and involvement of external powers (US, Saudi, Turkey, Qatar, Israel, to name a few) who wish to see yet another strong Arab nation torn apart. 

While I do have my opinions on this orchestrated devastation of a once dynamic country, and these opinions are based on fact and on research, in the coming reporting I will do, I’ll work to convey what Syrian voices are telling me: their testimonies, their experiences, what they see as a solution. 

Ireland Gaza talks

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I would encourage everyone to watch Eva Bartlett’s excellent presentation on Gaza, and then commit themselves to solidarity with the Palestinian people in their nonviolent struggle for an end to Israeli apartheid and occupation of Palestine.

–Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate 

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I’m grateful to the vast support and great reception I received in Ireland; of course the audiences’ interest was in knowing about and standing in solidarity with Palestine.  One note is that while the non-violent resistance efforts widespread throughout Palestine–even before Israel’s creation on historic Palestine and ethnic cleansing of at least 750,000 Palestinians–are formidable and commendable and deserve our solidarity, all resistance to occupation is legitimate and should not be made to be seen as otherwise.  In an ideal world we all love one another and work together for peace and justice. In this real world, the Zionist agenda does not include peace, and exists via a massive position of power imbalance, wherein Israel has state of the art technology and military might, political support around the world (including even when they are bombing Gaza with chemical weapons and point-blanking shooting civilians, including children), locks 1.7 million Palestinians into a very small space of land and then denies them every means of existence (down to calculating how many calories they need to not quite starve, then allowing in even less food aid into Gaza), and  constantly expands its illegal colonies. Resistance is legitimate, Palestinians want our solidarity, not food aid, not handouts, not pity. Let’s live up to our obligations. Thanks to Ireland for being so very receptive and active on Palestine solidarity–Eva

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On Thursday Eva Bartlett as part of her tour of Ireland speaking on Gaza spoke to the Transition Students on Kinsale Community School. The talk was so well-received that there was a long standing ovation by students and staff alike. The meeting was arranged by Padraig Fitzgerald and Lisa Lee-Fitzgerald of the Kinsale Peace Project and warmly welcomed by all of the teaching staff. Afterward we spoke together with many of the students who were very moved at the footage and incredulous that this can continue and at the media blackout on coverage of such injustice. Later that day one of the students, Lala Albert, emailed me with these words:

“Thank you so much for everything. You’ve opened my eyes to the real world and I’m not living in a fairy tale any more, thank you.” CONTINUE READING

Gaza Speaking tour, USA, Ireland, Britain 2014

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[see feedback from my 2013 talks]

Facebook US Speaking Tour Page

Recent Interviews

Related Campaign:  Stand up for academic freedom at Columbia College: What you can do

ITINERARY [COMPLETED VENUES LISTED AT END OF POST]:

IRELAND, MARCH 2014

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Last night’s…and every night of Eva Bartlett‘s speaking tour of Gaza in Ireland has been a resounding informative success. Don’t miss out on the last talk in Belfast this evening at 7pm in Palestine Aid, city centre of Belfast hosted by Fra Hughes. You will not regret it as the information relayed is a true representation of the suffering that is put on Gaza. –Eileen Carr

Sat Mar 29: 7 pm, Dublin 2, Ireland Institute, Pearse st

Sun Mar 30: 7 pm, Belfast, Palestine Aid, 48 Kind st

Mon Mar 31:  3 pm, Dublin, meet with Emer Costello, MEP Dublin

Tues Apr 1: Manchester, organized by Adie & the Manchester Palestine Solidarity campaign

Wed Apr 2: Sheffield, organized by Mousheir al Farra

 

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Gaza talks, Ireland leg, Gaza still in crisis

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Ireland is treating me well!  The talks I’ve given in Kinsale, Cork and Galway, Dublin have been well-attended and well-received, and managing to have lots of random encounters with folks who are willing to engage in discussion on Palestine, even if they aren’t familiar with the facts. It’s these meetings and the positive feedback that inspire me, aside from the Palestinians’ steadfastness:

Thanks very much for your informative and professional talk today at UCC in Cork. I do not know how you kept so calm while presenting those true images without getting angry or breaking down with emotion, especially the ones of the injured and dead children. If I were presenting it, then it would just be too much for me to handle.
I was amazed by the way you would stand up to the soldiers with nothing more than a loud speaker. I would not be brave enough to stand up to them with a gun in my hand. You are truly an outstanding, brave and courageous woman and it was a pleasure to meet you.

-Trevor Lawrance, Cork, Ireland

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Thank you Eva Bartlett for sharing your inside knowledge of Gaza and the suffering of the people with us yesterday evening. You are one inspirational and very brave woman. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I left the Friary …….all night questions and thoughts just kept coming to me. 

–Sally Thelen, Kinsale, Ireland

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Today Eva spoke in UCC and tonight she is speaking in Galway. Eva spoke with passion and knowledge and experience of what she has witnessed and shared many reports and actualities that do not reach us on mainstream censored media. Both adults and young people entered in discourse and left with much more information and hopefully a passion to share and create further awareness and change. Do not miss out on this opportunity to hear direct reports from Eva following Eva’s years of experience living through the atrocities of 2008/9 and 2012.

-Eileen Carr, Dublin, Ireland
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