Syria's Opposition Movement

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: The Syrian government continues to restrict media access to the country. Much of what we know about the unrest there is based on information collected by dissident groups outside the country. Hivin Kako works for the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in London. She translates from Arabic into English for the group. The Observatory relies on activists inside Syria for information. Kako says one of them was Ziad al-Obeidi.

Hivin Kako: Ziad al-Obeidi was an activist. He joined the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in May this year and he was killed on the 15th of October, 2011 by security forces.

Werman: And he's from the northeast of Syria. Is that significant?

Kako: Yes, it is because demonstrations started in the very south of the country in Deraa, and then it spread across the country and it has reached the far northeast of the country by the border with Iraq.

Werman: Okay, so that's kind of the background. What kind of information was Mr. al-Obeidi providing for the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights?

Kako: What is important maybe is first to say is about Ziad. Ziad was actually working within Saudi Arabia and decided to leave a country and a job, well-paid job, to come back to Syria to join the revolution to help his people and to become an activist.

Werman: So everything it sounds like was on the line for him as an individual. He wanted to work on behalf of democracy in Syria, the job be damned if you will.

Kako: And he'd become one of the dominant activists that worked for the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Werman: So what did he do for you actually?

Kako: The north is this very poor area where hardly there is communication. He wanted to, he approached the Syrian Observatory to give them the news as an activist and to report what's happening there because the state TV in Syria wanted to say all these people are armed people, this protests are not peaceful protests. So he wanted to say this is not true, so he was organizing the peaceful protests and he was reporting what's happening there because there is a lack of information coming there.

Werman: What happened to Ziad al-Obeidi? Was he targeted by the government?

Kako: Yes, he was targeted by the government about month before he died, he was killed. And he ran away and he hid for a month, but eventually they found him and during a raid he was killed in gunfire by security forces.

Werman: And how did the government figure out that, I mean did they target him because he was communicating with your organization?

Kako: No, it wasn't because of the organization. The organization is very careful and tries its best not to let anybody know who its members are. But he was targeted because he was active on ground as well with protests. That's why he was targeted.

Werman: Is his family in the city in the northeast?

Kako: Yes, his family is still in the northeast. I mean he's married. He was 42 years old and he has three children under the age of 10. And his wife is there as well.

Werman: He knew he was taking a big risk going back to Syria and engaging in these demonstrations. Just to get a sense of his motivation, why did he do it?

Kako: Well, he just, he did it because he loved the country and he fought for it. And he wanted to prove a point that these peaceful demonstrations, people want a democratic life, people want to get what they have been deprived of over years and years. There is a lot of resources in Syria, but the people aren't benefitting, so people want a better life, a democratic life. They want a change because they have suffered a lot over 40 years of al-Assad's regime.

Werman: Hivin Kako, thank you very much indeed for your time.

Kako: Thank you.

Werman: Hivin Kako is with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in London.