Of The Unknown Deatainee

Of The Unknown Deatainee
Stories | 04 Dec 2015

With an increasing number of victims, it becomes difficult to focus attention on everyone. With the victim count running into the thousands, mere mention of each individual names, in an effort to save them from oblivion, becomes an arduous and time-consuming task, for which there would not be enough hours in a single day. Abundance breeds boredom, such is the nature of things. Adbundance in incidents, such as in names, becomes the favorite playground for oblivion. It is to stop oblivion from smothering the meaning and value of the sacrifice of the many, that humans invented symbols. A symbol is one, but it carries the meaning of the multitude, and maintains the value and meaning of each specific individual sacrifice. Because it is one, a symbol it eludes oblivion, resists time, and keeps meaning. But this symbol, in fact, will hides thousands of names, and erases their individual features. There does not appear to be a cure for this intractable human pain: To uphold the cause for which they had sacrificed, the individual identities of those who have sacrificed need to be marginalized.

The intractable human pain lies in that we have to recognize our inability to revive the individual memories of people who sacrificed their lives for a common cause. They are people, indivuduals whose names and images we can recognize; but whose numbers are so great that we cannot, even if we wanted to, find a way to revive each of their individual names. At the same time, among these vicitims there will be individual names who will be recovered from the throes of oblivion, and hoisted above the rest for a variety of reasons. We will have to recognize that in the land of sacrifices there is a discrimination that can neither be denied nor avoided. In the land of sacrifices, there are those names that shine and become part of the public interest, while the rest become names forgotten to all except a handful of friends and family members.

Is it a coincidence, power and influence the family name suggests, or a victim's power of public relations that saves a name from oblivion? What makes the arrest of hundreds of people who work in dedication behind the scenes pass in silence, while the arrest of others becomes a vocal issue? Is it the quality of the work performed by the victim? We all know that the true essence of the revolution, was those young people who rose up in revolt, and whose peaceful activities embellished its era. Those young people who were thrust into the field of action, change, becoming instantly both its masters and teachers; were young people with no previous political history, or extensive relationships outside their neighborhoods and villages. They simply encountered what consecutive generations of Syrians were simply to afraid to face up to. This "essence" of the Revolution is now whithering away in prisons, thrown away in secret hidden places, and obscured by oblivion. We have nothing in our power to give their names the awareness they deserve.

My purpose here is not to condemn the vocal mention of one name and not others. Not all the names can receive the same mention, and we cannot give each detainee the right to fame and name recognition he or she deserves. My purpose here is to remind that the true essence and fibre of the Revolution consists of countless forgotten names. While hose names that do receive attention undoubtedly carry their own value, their value is no greater, in fact and in deed, than that of the forgotten names. It is these forgotten names, or those names that can only receive less consideration than they actually deserve, that are the force creating the possibility for other names to shine.

Upon recovering from the tragedies of war, Europe attempted to celebrate the victims and recoginze their names. Memorials and monuments were erected in areas that witnessed heavy fighting, and where victims fell. Victims' names were engraved on these memorials. Thousands of names. Visitors thereto, can not even cover all the names, even with a glance. There is no other way. But at least, these names remain engraved in stone, and the stone cannot forget. A young European will be able to look in alphabetical order and recognize a fallen ancestor from the list of victims.

Once Syria does eventually recover, we will have to find a way of commemorating the unknown detainee.


* Opinion articles published reflect the views of the author, not necessarily those of the Radio Rozana.

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