Syrian survivors stories in Chicago
CHICAGO, IL – On Friday, Jan 17 , 2014, Heba and Amineh met with dozens of diplomats and NGO representatives, hosted by the Permanent Mission of Norway at the United Nations, to speak freely for the first time about the survivorsâ€™ stories of death and devastation at the hands of the Assad regime.
They will be in Chicago next week discussing their first hand accounts:
Monday Jan 27, 2014 they will be in Chicago at DePaul University at 6:00 pm
Tuesday Jan 28, 2014 they will be in Chicago at Ashton Place at 8:00 pm
â€œI donâ€™t need your tears,â€ Amineh said, speaking today before the our event. â€œI need your help.â€
â€œI cannot remember life before the revolution started three years ago,â€ survivor Heba Sawan said. â€œOnly the war. This is my whole life now.â€
Heba, 24, and her cousin Amineh Sawan, 23, arrived in the U.S. in mid-January to tell their story of survival as their small town of Moadamiya, a suburb of Damascus, was devastated by the army of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
The two young women saw with their own eyes the killing of family, friends and othersâ€”all civilians–by the Syrian Army of Bashar al-Assad. Early on in the war, Hebaâ€™s financÃ© was killed.
In the pre-dawn August morning when Assadâ€™s army attacked the town with chemical weapons the two cousins rushed to the makeshift hospital and began treating victims. More than 1,200 of their neighbors were killed in the attack. â€œBodies were spasming uncontrollably,â€ Amineh said. â€œChildren were screaming unintelligible words as they were dying.â€ An infant died in her arms.
Assadâ€™s forces laid siege to Moadamiya, blocking the delivery of food and other essentials, and preventing anyone from leaving. Those who tried to escape were cut down by snipersâ€™ fire.
The young cousins were determined to make a difference. With the schools destroyed by artillery fire, the children of Moadamiya were left with nothing more to do than play war on rubble filled streets. Heba and Amineh established an underground school for the local childrenâ€”a place to escape the harsh reality outside.