Adi Atassi is an opposition activist from Homs, Syria. His home was burnt and his family made refugees. He spoke to Socialist Worker about Syria’s revolt
Our revolution is first of all the rejection of decades of one party rule, where we could only have one ideology, one way of thinking and where we were isolated from any real political debate.
Then we were exhausted by the rule of the Assad family and his circle, and its growing monopoly over all aspects of our lives—over the economy, over resources.
This circle became wealthier and wealthier at the same time as many people became trapped in deepening poverty.
But most of all the revolution is a rejection of the corruption that percolated through every pore of the regime. It made access to even the most basic service expensive and beyond the reach of citizens.
The immediate inspiration came from the Tunisian revolution—but Syrian society has been boiling for years.
The uprising began with the coming together of two elements. The first is the organised civil opposition, the small protests by activists over prisoners and so on.
These organised protests began to fuse with spontaneous acts of protest. Sometimes these involved a thousand people suddenly turning on security forces.
The fusion of the spontaneous anger and organised opposition created the grassroots leadership of the revolution. On 15 March 2011 they came together in the heart of Damascus for the first organised mass protests. This movement then spread into the south and across the country.
The original demands called for implementation of reforms, an end to corruption and to address demands for social justice.
But after the regime responded with violence these demands became calls for the fall of the regime—to bring down the apparatus of oppression. Now there is no going back. We have come too far and lost too much.
We now have two parts to the revolution—the armed uprising and the mass demonstrations and strikes.
On one level events are travelling at the speed of light, but on another it is hard and slow. People want change immediately, but we will have to take this regime down piece by piece.
The recent defections of regime insiders are an important indication that we are moving forward. But it is a hard road. For us the real revolution begins after Assad falls. We have to rebuild, care for victims, the families of the martyrs, the displaced. This will be a collective effort.
But we must also guard against those who want promote sectarianism, or outside forces like the West, the Gulf states or Russia that want to buy loyalty.
We are looking forward to political freedom and a political life. The struggle after the fall of the regime is about democracy, bread and justice. Over the past 16 months we have stood together and helped each other. This is what we will take into the future.