By 2009, Tharwa team in Washington, D.C. had enough videos and written reports from Syria to put together a 6-part TV series designed to call for a nonviolent revolution in the country, basing the arguments on the sentiments that the average Syrians themselves were expressing in their daily conversations. The series was titled “First Step,” and its basic argument was a nonviolent revolution in Syria was “possible and necessary,” because the regime has shown it is too oblivious to the plight of the average Syrian and too corrupt and inefficient to undertake the reforms needed to improve the prevailing living conditions in the country.
Each episode of First Step began with a reportage based on the raw videos produced by Tharwa’s in-country activists, then preceded to a panel discussion moderated by Tharwa founder, Ammar Abdulhamid, in cooperation with two young Tharwa activists in exile (Oula Alrifai and Ahed Alhindi), and featuring various Syrian and Arab experts.
First Step episodes began in August 2009 on an opposition satellite network seen in Syria, and were repeated regularly until the eve of the Syrian revolution on March 15, 2011.
The programs can be followed on the links below. The program is available in Arabic only.
Episode 1: Daily Living Conditions in Syria
Episode 2: The Problem of Unplanned Neighborhoods
Living conditions in Syria have been degrading steadily ever since the rise of Bashar Al-Assad to power in 2000. Chronic ineptitude, endemic corruption and long-lasting neglect are the main culprits. Will the Syrian people remain silent forever?
Episode 3: The Problem of Internal Displacement
Due to long-standing official neglect of the housing crisis, more than 40% of Syrians are now living in unplanned communities surrounding major cities and towns. Lack of basic services and continuous blackmail of local official color the daily life of the inhabitants.
Episode 4: Child Labor in Syria
Poverty, unjust government policies and the occupation of the Golan by Israel in 1967 have combined to create a major refugee problems for Syria, long before the influx of over 1.2 million Iraqis into the country. Syrian authorities deal with the problem the way they do with all other pressing challenges that the country is facing: by ignoring them. Will the Syrians remain quiet?
Episode 5: The Kurish Question in Syria
Child Labor is a phenomenon that is growing rapidly in Syria. One might say it is virtually exploding, with over 650 million children involved, according to the most conservative estimates. This is close of 8% of the country’s overall population. The Syrian government has yet to acknowledge the existence of the problem, not to mention introduce policies to stem its growth.
Episode 6: The Sectarian Question
Over 10% of Syria/s inhabitants or close to 2 million people are Kurds, yet the Syrian Constitution imposed by the ruling Baath Party back in 1973 fails to acknowledge their existence, and the Kurds live as second-class citizens at best unable to study or teach in their own language, and are denied access to many government jobs. Over 300,000 Kurds have been stripped of their citizenship following a controversial census that took place in 1961.
This is Episode 6 of 6 of the TV program, First Step, produced by the Tharwa Foundation on the necessity of peaceful democratic change in Syria. The series was hosted by Ammar. Episode 6 focuses on the Sectarian Divide in Syria, and summarized the discussions that went on throughout the series.
The following is the summary provided at the end of the 6th Episode of First Step, a reportage program produced by the Tharwa Foundation in 2009 to promote the cause of peaceful democratic change in Syria. I conceived the show after reviewing the YouTube videos prepared by our in-country activists showing the daily realities that people in Syria have to content with. the videos justified my faith in the possibility and necessity of the revolution, and that helped ut this summary together. The real heroes, of course, are the activists who risked their freedom and their lives to provide the videos.
Call for Revolution