Poetry News

Syrian Poet on Cost of Opposing Assads

By Harriet Staff

From the Chicago Tribune:

Syrian poet Faraj Bayrakdar's daughter was just three when he was arrested in 1987 for his political activism. By the time he was released in a presidential amnesty she was at university.

As the international community continued to wrestle with efforts to stop escalating violence in Syria that a U.N. official has described as a civil war, Bayrakdar detailed the personal cost of opposing Syria's ruling Assad family to book lovers at Britain's top literary festival in the Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye.

"This was the biggest pain I have ever experienced," Bayrakdar told an audience at the Hay Festival over the weekend. It was also the reason he reluctantly chose exile in Sweden.

He said his experience of the Syrian government, now led by President Bashar al-Assad who succeeded his father Hafez in office, made him very worried when the current unrest began.

"I was not surprised to see that the Syrian regime was so cruel and shot at the people. But I was really surprised that the population was going for it from the beginning to the end."

He said the Syrian people were "thankful" for support from European governments.

"But I think Europe could do more... to support its civil society to support the Syrian people."

Go here to read the rest.

Originally Published: June 14th, 2012