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The Street is Ours
A Movement In The Face of an Impossible Occupation
Article published on 12 August 2023
last modification on 13 August 2023

The Street is Ours movement began in the last third of 2012. It began during a time when revolutionary activity was in decline; there were no more mass demonstrations in Salamiyeh, and so The Street Is Ours began as a new revolutionary movement.

“The Street is Ours” movement belongs to the context of other civil society organizations, which had an intense activity after the start of the Syrian revolution.These civic organizations are a form of the youth’s freedom of expression, which has actively contributed to the ongoing process of change in Syria.
The movement began as a call put out by some activists to meet at a specific time, while wearing specific colors, walking down a specific street without raising any banners or anything. This movement was a reaction to the blatant repression unleashed on the city’s peaceful demonstrations by the security forces after September 2011.
Poster designed by “The Street is Ours” for the “Al Shamma” Action. Source: Salamiyeh Wants Freedom Facebook Page

Poster designed by “The Street is Ours” for the “Al Shamma” Action. Source: Salamiyeh Wants Freedom Facebook Page

According to activist A.J, a young woman who had been arrested by the security services more than once, and had to flee the country to escape the regime’s brutality, told SyriaUntold, “The idea was to walk silently in the streets, without raising any banners or chanting any slogans, in order to raise a new challenge to the security forces that suppressed the demonstrations in the city.” During the Wednesday of “Al Shamma”, the group defined itself as “a way to organize peacefully the largest number of revolutionaries in one street, at full force, in a surprising manner in order to confuse the security forces and render them powerless amongst the face of the power of the streets.” They aimed to mobilize support for the revolution in Syria and to restore the revolutionaries’ morale in Salamiyeh. A.J. said that, “We wanted to challenge the accusations that we were not vandals or violent and pave the way for other, more influential movements.”

“The Street is Ours” was widely accepted by the city’s activists. The movement proposed to walk out twice a week, on Mondays and Wednesdays. It was also similar to the other revolutionary movements in Salamiyeh, as they also adopted civic and non-violent work in the fight against the Assad regime. They renounced violence and stood against carrying weapons.

In addition to the activities that the movement established, they also stood in solidarity with detainees. On “Wednesday of Al Shamma”, which took place on May 23, 2012, The Street is Ours said: “We affirm that we will not forget Al Shamma, we will not forget this family that still sits in the darkness of prisons, for nearly 10 months now. We demand to know what has become of them. We reaffirm that we stand together, hand in hand, until the overthrow of the regime and the liberation of all detainees.” Then, activists from Hama raised a banner that demanded the release of Al Shamma.

The movement was characterized by the instructions that the would give all participants in their activities, such as the demand that they all use the same time. The rationale was “time is power, and without our time the movement would lose much of its power.” They all adjusted their times to the BBC. Another of the rules was that they do not carry pictures or banners, or chant during their marches, in order to preserve the ideas that they wanted to achieve.

Despite the non-violent movement, and the bare minimum that the group did, it did not escape the repression of Assad’s forces. According to A.J., “The last time we went out was mid-2012, in collaboration with other groups in the city. The security forces and the shabiha attacked us and tried to arrest some of the youth. We were beaten, alongside some women. It was at the point that we broke our silence and screamed, ‘we demand the downfall of the regime.’ This was the last demonstration put on by The Street Is Ours.”

“The Street Is Ours” campaign reflects the dream of a group of youth who resisted a brutal dictatorship. The objective of the activists — which began small — was to struggle against a tyrant that does not accept any objections, either small or large. This tyrant did not hesitate to suppress the youth and escalate against them.