Raqqa: a speech of land and stones

Abdalaziz Alhamza “RBSS”

With every passing day, life seems to descend deeper into this pit of despair for those from Raqqa. At the bottom of this abyss, people do things they never expected to be capable of – unbearable sacrifices and unimaginable horrors. But war is brutal and ugly – especially between two disputing parties. They have used all the methods of killing – bombing, sniping, burning, starving, and execution – everything you could ever think of, and all the things you hoped you never would. They have tortured and murdered us in all ways.

ISIS has turned the “7 Nisan” Park in the middle of the city into a graveyard. The regular cemeteries are either full or under SDF control. There is no safe place left. The city center is targeted daily with airstrikes. The park – or the new cemetery – has gone from being one of the most remarkable places in the city to a symbol of our ultimate misery. The people of Raqqa will never forget – displaced or not – they will all remember these days of suffering until their dying days. They will never forget the misery that has been carved into the walls of their city.

Here is where my father was buried. Here is where my brother was slaughtered. Here is where my uncle was murdered and here is where my sister was whipped. Here you can smell death everywhere. Here was my house, my school, and all my memories.

No body could have expected that life would end in our city. In summer evenings long gone, the streets, the people, and the houses never slept. These memories will live despite everything that has happened. This might be the last battle in the city, but for sure it is the longest and the heaviest.

People of Raqqa have had the greatest share of pain and misery. Will time help us forget? Who will write our history? In the end, will we be victorious, or will we be ultimately defeated – despite managing to stand strong in the face of this criminal world…

media activist from the city of Raqqa, student at the Faculty of Law at the University of the Euphrates. Director of the Media Office of Raqqa, founding member of "Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently", founding member of the documentary project of "Sound and Picture". I work in documenting violations committed by Assad's regime and ISIS group and extremist organizations inside the city of Raqqa, as I work in programming, design and visual media. I hold a certificate of coach in digital security, and a certificate of journalist coach, and a certificate in documenting violations against human rights, and a certificate in electronic advocacy. I underwent a training under the supervision of "Cyber-Arabs" in collaboration with the Institute for War and Peace "IWPR", about the management of electronic websites and leadership of advocacy campaigns, and a training of press photography under the supervision of the photojournalist "Peter Hove Olesen".