Monday, October 3, 2011
Goddesses in the Dirt: Zainab al-Hosni
Goddesses in the Dirt: Issue #20: Zainab al-Hosni
I recently learned the gut-wrenching story of this beautiful woman who lived in the city of Homs, Syria. Her brother, Mohammad, was a well-known activist who spoke out against the current government regime. On July 27th, Zainab al-Hosni was abducted by what were believed to be members of a plain-clothes security force, with the apparent aim of pressuring her brother to turn himself in. A phone call from her captors warned him that she would only be released if he ceased his anti-regime protests.
Mohammad was arrested on September 10 and held at a Political Security office in Homs. Three days later his mother was summoned to retrieve his body from a local hospital. The body showed signs of torture, including cigarette burns as well as multiple gunshot wounds to the arm, leg and chest. While she was at the hospital, the mother discovered the fate of her missing daughter: her body was at the same morgue. She had been decapitated, her arms cut off and her body partially skinned. The mother was not permitted to bring her daughter home until four days later and was made to sign a document stating that her children had been kidnapped and abducted by an armed gang.
Homs is made up primarily of Sunni Muslims, but Christians and Alawites, a sect which supports President Bashar al-Assad, also live in the city. Ongoing protests have strained relationships between these communities: those suspected of being informants are being assassinated in the rising violence, and some fear the region could dissolve into civil war.
Zainab and Mohammad join a list of more than 2,220 individuals who have died working towards reform in the current Syrian regime. Thousands more have been arrested and many are being held at unknown locations at risk of torture or death. The people of Syria deserve what everyone on earth seeks: to live a life of peace and freedom with dignity. The eternal question remains unanswered:
Why must they suffer for wanting that?
After Zainab was buried, women held a protest in her home town. Chanting, "Syria wants freedom" they called Zainab "the flower of Syria." One woman held up a sign, 'Rejoice in eternal paradise' and another vowed:
'They plucked the flower. After me, a bud will rise up.'