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Syria: paper birds against the dictator

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What chance do paper birds have against tanks and guns and a ruthless determination cling onto power? Not much, of course, but the regime in Syria is apparently so scared of even this sort of symbolic resistance that it must be crushed. 

 by Talib K. Ibrahim - Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Two Syrian sisters are behind the paper bird protest – to be exact they are origami cranes – and those two sisters have now disappeared. Friends suspect that they have been tortured or worse. The sisters – who used the artist names "Cham and Jasmine" – had been leaving the colourful folded cranes at crossroads and street corners in the Syrian capital Damascus. 

It was an artistic form of civil protest - based on the Japanese legend that whoever folds a thousand cranes will have their wishes come true. The names of people kidnapped by the regime in its fight against the popular revolt were written on the paper birds.

Disappearance
 The sisters disappeared themselves on August 5 – Syrian security officials arrived in a car and took them to an unknown destination. Nothing has been heard from them since. Friends fear the worst:

 “More than 77 days has elapsed since the arrest, which means they exceeded the period at which detainees should be transferred to the court. So why haven't they been transferred yet?”  asks their friend Sami Shukri. From experience the friends and activists say that if detainees are not transferred to the court within this period then their lives are in danger. 

Campaign
A campaign has now been launched to try and secure the release of the activists. Volunteers are folding cranes with the names of the two sisters on them to demand their release. 

”It’s a campaign based on folding origami cranes named after the two sisters, involving volunteers and groups. The wishes in legends may be a mere "myth", but in reality they carry the wish of Syrian liberation from tyranny, and freedom for all prisoners,” says Sami Shukri. 

Human rights groups estimate that tens of thousands of people have disappeared in Syria – abducted by the army, security forces of pro-government militias. 

 

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This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011 Dutch government’s decided to cut funding and shift RNW in 2013 from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW’s current activities can be found at http://www.rnw.org/about-rnw