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More than Rita’s Uncle : A True Syrian Activist

August 24, 2020

Part 3 in a 3-part Series Following One Syrian Refugee Child and her family.

Written in June 2016 by Ruhi Loren Akhtar whilst volunteering in Greece.

Rita’s Uncle (Guevara Nabi) at Idemeni Camp. All Relevant Permissions to Share Image Sought.

I couldn’t remember this gentleman’s name until recently, as he was always ‘Rita’s uncle’ to me. Every time I met him in camp he seemed humble, polite and quiet. So I didn’t get to speak to him much about his work. Now I wish I had, while I could still track him down, as there was so much to hear and so much to learn. But I will tell you what I know, and what I have learned, about this remarkable young man who tried to fight against the regime before he fled Syria, and how he continues to do so along his journey to safety and stability.

Twenty-nine years old, a photographer from Aleppo in Syria. He was an activist involved heavily in the revolutionary movement against the terrorist organisations and Assad’s regime.

He filmed the devastation caused by the aviation system and worked as a trainer for the advocacy campaigns in Syria.

He was also involved in the organisation of the preparatory committee of the council in the ‘free state’ province Aleppo. This is a part of the council which is beyond the dictatorship and control of Assad: interested in education, hygiene and health services. People’s rights.

Initially he did not want to leave Syria, but in the end he had to flee with his mother, sister, brother-in-law, four nieces and a nephew. He was wanted by the Assad system, Daesh, Al Nusra Front and other organisations because of his revolutionary work and campaigns for the rights of the people of Syria. Air strikes and also the spread of terrorist organisations further firmed the decision to leave. No doubt if he had stayed most likely he would have been dead by now.

The family initially fled to Turkey, Gaziantep where he founded the Syrian initiative of transparency, which is a media platform to monitor the work of local councils in Aleppo and Idlib. The initiative works to promote transparency and accountability between citizens and council members. Even away from Syria he has continued to work for the Syrian People.

However, poor life conditions in Turkey meant the family soon embarked on a dangerous boat journey to Chios, Greece, eventually settling in Idomeni refugee camp on the Greek-Macedonia (FYROM) border.

Even after reaching Idomeni camp, he and his family continued the work to highlight the problems faced by refugees and how they suffered after the border was closed in front of them. They did this through the dissemination of videos and photos of the refugees stranded at the border, their demonstrations, and by documenting abuses by the Macedonian (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) army in Idomeni.

Rita’s Uncle (Guevara Nabi) Demonstrating at Idomeni Camp. All Relevant Permissions to Share Image Sought.

I realised that some of the more noteworthy photos I had seen going viral when the border closed and there were fights between police and refugees were in fact his. Googling his name produced inspirational humanitarian work, regardless of his personal circumstances.

Despite adversity, fear, desperation and hostility, the courage and strength he has shown is immense. He didn’t give up. When others would have been demoralised and defeated, (and I saw plenty people suffering depression in camp), he kept going.

Rita’s Uncle has continued to raise awareness and fight for the rights of the people of Syria with his family, even to this day. He is a true activist.

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but a true activist will NEVER fail to protest.

Rita’s Uncle wants to return to the Syria that they all dream of — an Assad- free Syria, without dictatorship and conflict.

I won’t forget his name anymore. He is not just Rita’s Uncle. He is Guevara Nabi.

Epilogue: After crossing many borders by land where Rita, Heba, Guevara and their family faced, brutality, discrimination and hostility, they eventually made it to Germany from Greece. 

Today they live in safety and Guevara is able to work whilst Rita goes to school. 

There are still millions of displaced people world wide being abused by the systematic failures of our world leaders and governments. 

They are the innocent people being played as pawns in a deadly game of chess.

They are the people behind the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War 2- The Refugee Crisis.  

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