During the initial meetings held to dcuss the launching of Rising for Freedom Mahazine in the beginning of 2012, I was amongst a minority that voted against the idea. I was also amongst another minority that voted against the name, given to the fledgling magazine.
That time, we, as Local Coordination Committees in Syria, started meeting regularly on a weekly basis. Earlier, we used to meet daily or to have continuing meetings without clear arrangements.
Those meetings were joined by writers, veteran journalists and activists, all of whom were very enthusiastic to make their voices heard after they had long been silenced by the rigid media, whose only job had been polishing the authority that created them or allowed their being!
As generally happens, the huge enthusiasm that accompanies the beginnings faded with the passage of time and events that were full of personal commitments and life matters. The writers, who promised to support the magazine, sent us one or two articles each, and then each of them went back to his or her own work in other magazines and newspapers. We only can thank them –gratefully- and excuse them to start again another journey in search of others. Meanwhile, the activists, who attended specialized courses in Turkey and Lebanon and elsewhere, were hardly in touch them later on.
When the motivation fades, in any kind of work, it is may not possible to revive it or forge a new one.
In addition to the pain caused by the betrayed revolution, we suffered the pain caused by some happenings that were aimed to extinguish our enthusiasm and motivation. Copies of our magazine were burnt several times in different (liberated) areas [of Syria]. Other times the distribution of the magazine was prevented along with similar revolutionary magazines and newspapers. We faced other obstacles that forced us to halt issuing the magazine twice. We still suffer due to the absence (rather the making absent) of our two colleagues Razan Zeitouneh and Nazem Hammadi, who comprise half of the magazine cadre… if not more!
Although our magazine is not issued on a daily or even weekly basis, every time we embark on a new issue, we feel as if we were challenging Tom Cruise personally to accomplish another part of “Mission Impossible”. I do not deny my admiration of the determination of other similar periodicals that were able to carry one. No doubt they have their own problems and challenges, but they still can appear on time. I express my appreciation to my fellow member of the group, Laila (my teacher) – as Razan taught us to call her. She was the only person, who maintained an amount of determination that has many times and for not a short period of time, been the only fuel for continuation.
The magazine is now being printed in cooperation with the Syrian Network for Print Media and distributed in the liberated northern parts of Syria.
In the Eastern Ghouta, where the offices of the magazine are located, and although the siege is not as strong as it was earlier, we have not yet succeeded in reprinting or distributing the magazine. We have received the assistance of an organization in Ghouta that -thankfully- works on printing and distributing kids magazines. However; we are still searching for someone, who may accept to print Rising for Freedom (on his own responsibility!!) .. We bear bitter memories for printing the magazine under siege. With the issuing of every edition, we exerted large efforts to find the required paper for printing, and yet further efforts to provide the ink needed. Moreover; we suffered in finding a printing machine and securing electricity. We even lacked a stapler for the assemblage of the magazine papers into a magazine-like product.
Every time we felt as if we were inventing the printing process (and even the writing process!!) again.
We used to support and console each other by recalling how a hundred years ago Mahatma Gandhi struggled with his mates in issuing a handwritten paper under British occupation. They used to spend the nights in writing the scripts of all the paper copies! We have challenged the practical and moral difficulties. Some people used to say to us: “These magazines are read only by their producers. They are supported by foreign parties, and this support is the reason behind their continuation if not the reason behind their issuance from the beginning!” Or, “Instead of issuing a magazine, it would be better to give the people bread or a kilo of flour,” etc…
I am not mentioning that in order to boast a record of failures and an absence of professionalism, especially as we claim that there is another record created by the alternative media, of which we boast being part. We still claim that we are fulfilling our part. We express our deep gratitude for all those who have joined us in this journey, even with a good word that they write on our pages or with reading ours.
In this issue (part 60 of Mission Impossible!), we have introduced a special section on print media [in Syria], in addition to other various material.
Activist, journalist, Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Freedomraise and Director of its main office in Douma / Eastern Ghouta, holding a degree in Arts, English Language Department, Damascus University. He is also director of the office of the Syrian Non-violence Movement in Damascus Suburbs.