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The Museum of Activism launched its first exhibit at Coculture Gallery in Berlin, Germany, October 14-16, 2021. We were proud to receive both activists and those who had been inspired to care. Of particular note, the gallery was filled to capacity with our diverse group of guests, who joined us to listen and participate in our Conversations series.

Our exhibit featured artifacts carefully selected and provided by Syrian activists.

Peaceful protest in Hama, Syria, July 2011

Peaceful protest in Hama, Syria, July 2011

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Background

Peaceful activism was the essence of the Syrian Revolution for Dignity that erupted in 2011, after 40 years under a tyrannical dictatorship.

 

It started with protests after the arrest and torture of children who had written anti-regime graffiti on their school walls. The movement grew when regime forces fired live ammunition at unarmed protesters. The Uprising blossomed when the regime besieged entire towns and cities, cutting off access to food, medicine, and utilities. The more violent the regime’s repression, the more Syrians showed solidarity by joining the nonviolent marches as they spread around Syria.

 

Activists offered security forces water bottles and flowers. They chanted and danced, together, arms interlocked in solidarity. They set loose ping pong balls stamped with the words Freedom and Dignity on steep Damascus streets. They hid loudspeakers in bushes to amplify their words. They used art and humor to spread their message of freedom and dignity. Like every other global movement, their activism was peaceful.

Artifacts Gallery

Conversations on Activism

As part of MoA's Conversations series, Rime Allaf led the conversation with Joumana Seif and Yassin Al Haj Saleh, during which they discussed the global implications of Syrian activism. Want to learn more about the Syrian Revolution and how it all began? Take a listen!

We all know that activist movements are characterized by their local context. But do disparate movements - say Myanmar, Sudan, and Syria - have anything in common? Rafif Jouejati led the conversation with Michael Beer (Nonviolence International) and Kristyan Benedict (Amnesty International). Want to learn more about activist tips, techniques, and paths forward?

Take a listen!

How Syrian activism changed the world
Rime Allaf, Yasin Al Haj Saleh, and Joumana Seif

Global activism and Syrian inspirations
Rafif Jouejati and Michael A. Beer

About the Speakers
 

Rime Allaf

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Rime Allaf is a Syrian-born writer, political analyst, and communications strategist. She was an Associate Fellow at Chatham House from 2004 to 2012, in the Middle East and North Africa Programme. She has published numerous analyses and articles on the region, with Syria being the focus of her area of expertise, and continues to write, speak, and advise on Syrian affairs. She is on the Board of Directors of The Day After, a renowned Syrian-led civil society organization working to support a democratic transition in Syria. She is also on the Advisory Council of the Middle East Institute’s Syria Program. 

Michael A. Beer

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Michael A. Beer serves as the Director of Nonviolence International, an innovative and respected Washington, DC based nonprofit promoting nonviolent approaches to international conflicts. Since 1991, he has worked with NVI to serve marginalized people who seek to use nonviolent tactics often in difficult and dangerous environments. This includes diaspora activists, multinational coalitions, global social movements, as well as within countries including: Myanmar, Tibet, Indonesia, Russia, Thailand, Palestine, Cambodia, East Timor, Iran, India, Kosovo, Zimbabwe, Sudan, and the United States. Michael Beer has a special expertise in supporting movements against dictators and in support of global organizing for justice, environment, and peace. Michael co-parents two teenagers with his patient life partner, Latanja.

Kristyan Benedict

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Kristyan Benedict manages Amnesty International UK’s Crisis Response & Tactical Campaigns Programme. His work has involved campaigns with a range of activists and human rights defenders from Syria, Israel/Palestine, China, Hong Kong, Myanmar, and many other places. He’s worked on Syria at a high level since early 2011 and visited the country several times before then. Kristyan has provided training and advice on organizational development, strategy, human rights, international humanitarian law, communications, advocacy, fundraising, and security to key partner Syrian human rights activists, and organizations to help in their campaigning, strategic litigation, and victim support work.

Rafif Jouejati

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Rafif Jouejati is a Syrian-American activist who became involved in the Syrian Uprising since its early days. She co-founded the Museum of Activism and serves on multiple civil society and activist boards, including Baytna, The Day After, and Nonviolence International. She is also a trainer in nonviolent tactics, Program Manager for the Syrian Freedom Charter initiative, and a Nonresident Fellow and Advisory Council member at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC. 

Yasin Al Haj Saleh

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Yassin Al Haj Saleh is a Syrian writer, intellectual, and former political prisoner. He is the author of nine books on Syria, the Syrian revolution, contemporary Islam, culture, prison, and the experience of the atrocious. His latest book in English is The Impossible Revolution: Making Sense of the Syrian Tragedy (2017). He is the co-founder of the online platform Al-Jumhuriya, where he is a regular writer. He is the husband of Samira Al-Khalil, who has been missing for almost eight years since her abduction. 
You can follow him on Twitter at @yassinhs.

Joumana Seif

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Joumana Seif is a Syrian lawyer and human rights activist. She is a Research Fellow, International Crimes and Accountability Program in The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights E.V.(ECCHR). She is Chair of the Board of Directors at TDA: Supporting a Democratic Transition in Syria. She is a co-founder of the Syrian Women’s Network, and a co-founder of the Syrian Women Political Movement. Before the Revolution, she was a member of Damascus Declaration from 2007-2012. 

Additional Artifacts

Activism knows no limits...please see below for additional examples of how Syrian activists continue to express their desire for

freedom, dignity, and justice.