Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hamza, Child of a Revolution.

I write this post with a heavy heart full of pain, mourning the loss of lives of many in the struggle for freedom from brutal despots in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria. We all feel the pain upon hearing news of a loss of a life, but react more to them when the life is that of an innocent child. But this post is about the lost life of one child in particular, Hamza al-Khateeb who's news was all over the media.
Hamza Al-Khateeb is the 13 year old Syrian boy from Giza in Deraa who was detained at a checkpoint, tortured and brutally killed by the Syrian government forces. "The body of Hamza al-Khateeb was returned to his family on Wednesday May 25, following his disappearance after a demonstration on Friday April 29", activists said on their Facebook page Syrian Revolution.  "A month had passed by with his family not knowing where he is, or if or when will he be released. He was released to his family as a dead body."
As a child I have lived the horrors of two revolutions,  in two different countries where my father was appointed as an Ambassador. I know the fear of hearing the sounds of bullets and explosions, the demonstrations, the power cuts, the food, petrol and cooking gas shortage. And most of all the threats of bombardments and kidnaps, stolen cars, and the constant worry and uncertainty. I have lived both the horrors of the Iranian revolutions and the American hostage crisis. Although our school (The American Community School) was closed down as a result then, I was not directly affected by the revolution mostly because it was not my homeland and I was too young to fully comprehend it and it's implications, but I still recall clearly the horror I felt then. 
Hamza was a 13 year old boy, yet still a child. And you don't need to be a psychiatrist to know that as a child the fear is much more intense than that of an adult. Hamza must've experienced intense feelings of fear, helplessness and hopelessnes. I can't even imagine the horror he went through, the pain of the severe, long and brutal torture. How much agony did he have to endure? How many pleas and how many tears? We have all seen the very graphic video where the signs of torture are very evident. As the video describes, "there were a few bullets in his body used as a way of torture rather than to kill him with. Clear signs of severe physical abuse appeared on the body such as marks done with hands, sticks, and shoes. His genitalia was also cut off. "
I can't imagine what kind of human beings could do this to another human being ... a child most of all. Surely these are heartless, merciless and can not be describes as human. These are pure and simple monsters. I still can't and will not understand people who still support the Syrian regime, but that is another political discussion which I will not get into, since this post is entirely human.

As any mother, I know very well the pain of loosing a child, the worry of not knowing his whereabouts nor his fate, but as a mother who lost her child too, I know more so the tremendous pain of loosing him forever... at least in this life. It is a pain that I hope nobody ever goes through. A pain that is unimaginable, indescribable but most of all never forgotten. It is one thing to lose your child, an excruciating, painful and tragic experience in itself no matter how the death happens, but more so to know that your child was brutally tortured and atrociously murdered, that just makes the pain even more agonizing and unbearable. The last image of your child is the one which haunts you forever. So we can all imagine which image is Hamza's mother haunted by now. Aren't we all haunted by it, even though he isn't our son, nor are we even related to him? This is precisely why as a mother, I chose not post that image. 
I have been deeply touched by Hamza's story because it stirred a pain close to my heart. Every part of my heart aches for the pain of Hamza's parents, for their loss and greif which will always be in their heart and mind for the loss of their child too. Hamza may not be the first child to die in the revolution nor unfortunately will he be the last, but he certainly will be the one mostly remembered. He has become a symbol not only of the Syrian struggle but of the Syrian revolution itself.  His innocent smiling face is the one that will  be cherished and should always be remembered. 
May God have mercy on you Hamza and on your parents. May you rest forever in Peace. You will always be alive in our hearts and your life will certainly not go in vain.   

I found this beautiful poem in English from the facebook page كلنا الشهيد الطفل حمزة علي الخطيب

Lost Victims
By Tulai Toubasi
In memory of Hamza Ali Alkhatib
My day started out like any other…
Woke up and kissed the hand of my mother…
Showered and dressed.. Ready to go…
Today would be my last day little did I know..
At 13 there’s not much I understand…
The world is as I see it… I grasped it in my hand..
I believed problems could be solved with my voice…
I believed I had to speak out, I had no choice…
Off to a protest with my friends close behind..
If only I knew what was about to unwind…
Men of “Law” came at me at from all around..
Charging like bulls they dragged me to the ground…
I fought, I did, as well as I could…
Then again I’m only 13, my struggles no good…
I was thrown in a truck, with a bag on my head…
My heart beat fast, I thought for sure I’d be dead..
The fear rampaged through my veins…
I knew I had to escape by any means…
But with hands and feet bound I knew I’d fail…
And soon cries for my mother I began to wail..
To a grungy room I was taken with cracked green walls…
Hung upside down from my feet I began to squall…
An officer entered, stick in hand…
Beat me again and again- the pain I could not withstand..
I blacked out for what seemed like eternity..
Thought I’d wake up in a dream- but this was reality…
By now I lay on a cold wet ground…
Little did I know it was my blood that surround…
A searing pain I felt below…
I couldn’t see anything…but I felt it in woe..
I had been cut, how cruel could they be?
Was this the end, had they no mercy?
Another solider walked in, gun in hand..
I pleaded with him in hopes he’d understand..
“I’m just a child, what harm could I do?
I’m not yet a man to stand up to you…”
My cries fell upon deaf ears..
Bullets ripped through my little body like shears..
My final thoughts were of my family…
Would they know what happened-would they ever find me??
As the room became dark, their laughter echoed in my ears..
I gave into the darkness and released my fears…
One day I knew my story would be heard..
This atrocity we are in could not be deferred..
Someone somewhere will take a stand..
Freedom for Syria they will demand…
I’m sure I’m only one of many more..
Lost in a battle full of gore..

I found one in Arabic also on the Facebook page  The Syrian Revolution 2011 الثورة السورية ضد بشار الاسد   
قيل الكثير عن العفو المزعوم. ولا اعتقد اني سأضيف جديداً ولذلك سأدع من هو أهم مني كي يتحدث.
: سأترك القلم في هذه المرة إلى سيدي الجبل الصغير حمزة الخطيب ليقول لصاحب العفو

عمّن تعفو يا بشار؟

هل تعفو عمّن لكمني؟
أم عمّن شتمني؟
أم عمّن أبكاني؟
أم عمّن أخرج بكاء الألم من أحشائي؟
أم عمّن قطع أوصالي؟
أم عمّن كسر عنقي وهو يقهقه؟
أم عمّن أطلق أفرغ ما في قلبه من حقد على شعبي بثلاث رصاصات مزقت جسدي؟
عمّن ستعفو يا بشار؟
هل ستعفو عن أمّي التي أقضت مضجعك بدموعها؟
والتي مزقت هدوء ابنك حافظ بصرخاتها؟
أم أنك ستعفو عن آهات أبي المكتومة؟
أطمئنك، بأنني تركت ورائي جيشا من الثوار الذي عاهدوني على الوفاء لدمي.
وآخر كلامي: عندما تحين ساعتك، فلن أعفو عنك .
أبو علي

و اخير و ليس اخرا اقول رحمك الله يا حمزه و صبر اهلك على فراقك ...كلنا حمزه الخطيب

For further reading: 
Tortured and killed: Hamza al-Khateeb, age 13


  1. Noon you really touched my soul with this post. Hamza's story is unforgettable. It stands as an example of the pain we have had to endure for decades in the Arab World, where human beings have turned into monsters making other human beings suffer.

    Thank you Noon

  2. Hamza's story touched me too profoundly and stirred a deep pain in my heart.

  3. I heard about Hamza but I didn't know the details. This is all so painful, and I'm neither a mother nor related to Hamza.

    الله يرحمه و يصبر أهله و ينتقم من الطالمين و يعذبهم عذاب لم يعذبه أحد من قبل.