“Documenting” Martyrs

In the legal documentation field, there is something that is harder and harsher than working on the revolution’s martyrs folder. In our small team, everyone is trying to delegate that mission to someone else; that is documenting “the regime’s fatalities.” It turns the legal work to an odious task, puts us in confrontation with our shabby principles and in most cases, it holds us in a grey area where there are no definite answers and no clear cut between good and evil.

The only time I spent more than ten continuous hours working on that folder, left me in a mental situation where I did not want to work on it for many days to come. From the peak of rage, to sympathy then, to mere disbelief. A mixture of feelings that makes thinking about the future so exhausting.

First thing that caught my eyes in the “regime’s fatalities” pages is that they use the same terminology as the revolutionists though they are on an opposing side of them. They have used some of these words to satirize our martyrs but that did not keep them from using them to praise their casualties. Hence, we find that their fatalities are not only the “nation’s martyrs” but also are “jihadists” so how come this “jihadi” was killed by the “radical terrorists” who are labeled as “jihadists”, too. How does this equation balance in their minds?

The Jihadi, Martyr and hero whom we are to verify his personal details and find a picture of him proudly smiling in his military uniform -unlike the revolutionists’ martyrs, the regime’s fatalities have no picture of them after death.- This man might be the pilot who shelled a queue of civilians waiting on some bakery or even might had perpetrated a massacre and we just have documented the names of its victims a few minutes before our virtual meeting. An evil sensation sneaks into all of us that we have become partners in the crime instead of witnesses on it! This nauseous feeling that urges you to rush the case documentation and ignoring some of its other details as if we do overlook his marital status, number of children and career, we have pronounced him forgotten.

In some other cases, we have to move a man from his “throne” on the martyrs’ list to an “abyss” in the regime’s fatalities list when we find out that he was an informative or a thug who was executed by the rebels later on. The focus turns to the man’s family in such incidents, this mistake should have not happened and the casualty stays in a grey area, the cruelest one in fact, where he is proclaimed by both sides of the conflict. Similarly, the casualties of explosions that were not claimed by any authority and those whose corpses found on roads and never been identified. In addition, those recruits who died while performing their obligatory military-service were sometimes considered martyrs by local activists for “refusing to shoot civilians” and at the same time, they were on the regime’s lists of patriots who died while on duty. Many cases fell in that shaded area and we have documented less than 4,000 of the regime’s fatalities due to lack of resources. I can affirm that the number is multiples of that but most of the overlooked names belong to that same grey area giving the fact that the regime only hails murderers on its official pages and leaves the rest unaccounted.

All these details sound trivial at this point of time but the Syrians will have to deal with them in the transitional phase and with upmost care and responsibility. The transition will be over tens of thousands of bodies, pain and grudge of their families, friends and loved ones.