Hadeel Kouki, Syrian human rights activist who was arrested in 2011 for distributing pro-revolutionary flyers attacking the regime of Bashar Al-Assad, addresses the 4th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see below for full prepared remarks.
Saba Farzan: Hadeel is an incredibly courageous, young lady with an incredible, mature personality, something that I have witnessed since the very first second I have met her. She has been an active leader in the struggle for Free Syria. She was arrested the first time in March 2012 and has since been rearrested several times. She has spent 52 days in prison. When the Syrian military intelligence summoned Hadeel for questioning toward the end of 2012 because of her involvement in providing medical assistance to injured demonstrators, Hadeel decided to leave Syria. She hid with the nomads in the desert before the Free Syrian army smuggled her into Turkey. And she now continues her activism from Egypt as one of the most prominent cyber dissidents. She is unfortunately even not safe in Egypt because she has been attacked in her apartment in Egypt by thugs of the Assad regime. Hadeel will speak about what she has experienced in Syria. She will speak about the Syrian protest movement and about what is right now happening on the ground and about future prospects. Hadeel, we’re very fortunate and very happy to have you here and we all look forward to your thoughts and your remarks. Once again, welcome and the floor is yours.
Hadeel Kooki: Hey everybody. Thanks first for Mr. Hillel and Ms. Ariel for giving me this opportunity to talk to you, to let you know a little bit about what’s happening in my country Syria.
First, my name is Hadeel Kouki and I am a 20 year-old student from Syria. I am a human rights victim of President Bashar al-Assad. I have come here to tell you a little bit about the massacres that the Syrian regime committed in the last year in Syria. We have about 10,000 dead till now and the killing is constant. In addition to hundreds of thousands of detained people, we have about a hundred dead every day. This number includes a lot of children. They die in their homes by the reapers of our official army unfortunately.
Last year, my people began their revolution with peaceful demonstrations. Me as a Syrian girl, as a student, I was dreaming about [a] peaceful Syria, [a] free Syria. So I distributed, with some of my friends in university, leaflets calling on Syrians to march peacefully in the name of freedom. I was a student in a liberal university. I was studying two fields: English literature and law. They arrested me the first time and kept me in prison for 40 days in very horrible circumstances like thousands of other Syrians, women and men. After my release I continued my peaceful protest. Then, they arrested me twice more later. They tortured me badly with electricity and abused me very bad[ly] in very bad ways in prison. Then, they released me again, but they deprived me from my two universities. They tortured more than usual maybe becuase Í’m a Christian activist, because I am one of the minorities in Syria and they don’t want Christians and other minorities to participate in the revolution and show opposition to [the] Assad regime… The syrian regime tries to show our revolution as an anti-Islamic revolution, so to let what is scared of the alternative after the al-Assad regime. But as a christian Syrian girl. I can tell you that all of that is not true. A lot of Christians, a lot of guys from other minorities, participate in our revolution.
They came again to arrest me for providing medical aid to injured protestors. I went into hiding with nomads in [the] desert in very bad and hot circumstances. It was December, freezing cold, no hat or hot water at all. I was scared by the future that I am living in now. After I lost my university, I lost my family, I lost everything, I lost my country and I could not stay in Syria anymore because they were looking for me to arrest me again. I was just a normal girl, 20 years old. Then I changed to a wanted girl from this bad regime.
Finally, I escaped to Turkey, then to Europe. Then I went to Egypt and settled [there] finally. But even in Egypt, I was not safe. Assad’s men attacked me in my house. I was living alone in a very popular region. Just one month ago, they raided my home, they beat me badly and threatened to throw acid on my face unless I stopped my activities.
What drives my activism? I want freedom. I have seen [the] suffering of [my] fellow Syrians, who spent years in prison just for expressing [their] thoughts. My people deserve to live in a free Syria, tolerant Syria, and democratic Syria, at peace with all its neighbors, including Israel. Syrian people ask, “When [is the] killing [going to] stop?” “When [will the] international law ward will support us?” “When will they support the Syrian people?” All the war till now and after one year of massacres in Syria, [they] have not [had] the serious desire to help the Syrian people. Till now, nobody cares about the Syrian blood. Even some countries openly still support al-Assad. We have the Russian and Chinese governments. They are supporting the Syrian regime; they used the veto 2 times for it. Sweden and Italy gave the regime machines and exports to spy on  calls and social media and arrest the activists. Also, we have Iran and Russia, still [providing] him with heavy weapons to kill us. Also, I saw in person, Iranian and Hezbollah lebanese terrorists in Syria, with the security forces killing the Syrian demonstrators. My people deserve [the] right to life. Even American and Europe[an] countries, they did not do much to help us. I think they didn’t decide to help the Syrian people in a serious way yet. We need your support. It isn’t a Syrian issue anymore. It is a humanitarian issue now. Every human should support the Syrian people.
Thank you all.