August 21st, 2012

A Glimpse Inside Syria’s Civil War

Last week, C. J. Chivers spent five days embedded with Syrian rebels in the Aleppo province. For the New York Times, he offers a candid look at operations on the front line of the guerrilla war and the people - farmers, nurses, business men, army defectors - who have taken up arms against President Bashar al-Assad.

Using Skype, Jamal Abu Houran contacted an activist from Tal Rifaat who invited him to desert his post and head to a nearby village, where he would be picked up by a waiting car. Soon he was in a hidden guerrilla office. He told the activists there that he had studied weapons well, and asked to join the rebels’ fight.

An activist phoned Mr. Yasin, who quickly appeared and stood before him. Jamal recalled his new commander’s first words. “You are my brother,” he said. “And your blood is more precious than mine.”

Jamal Abu Houran’s reply set his life on its new course. “I hope God will give me the strength to defend people like you,” he said. This was his oath.

He had switched sides.

Read the full article here.

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June 19th, 2012

The Grease Men of Jaffna

Writing for Guernica, Hannah Tennant-Moore tells of her search for a boogeyman haunting Tamil communities in the Jaffna Peninsula and offers a glimpse at post-war life for the Tamil’s of Sri Lanka.

I asked the engineer if he believed the government was using the Grease Man for its own ends. “Of course!” he said. “About a year ago, it was the white vans. Black windows, no identity plates. They abducted people. Sometimes hurt them and let them go. Sometimes gone. The authorities say it is a mystery. But to the people it is no mystery.” He glanced around and lowered his voice. “The people are missing the LTTE. They had their minus points, but at least we had some bargaining power. But we have much hope the Americans will save us. We love Hillary Clinton.” He hoped she would pressure the government to house internally displaced Tamils and abolish the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which authorizes indefinite detention.

“Do you know that we have the same law in our country?” I explained that several laws passed since 9/11 empower the president to arrest and jail non-U.S. citizens without charging them with a crime. The engineer was shocked. He had never heard of Guantanamo.

Read the full article here.

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