The Two-Way
6:08 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Syrian Activist: 'I Could Be Killed At Any Moment'

The situation in Syria is one of desperation, death and constant danger, a Syrian activist told All Things Considered's Melissa Block.

The activist, who goes by Abo Bakr, said he was in the house where journalists Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik were killed.

"We were hearing so many explosions around us, but then the sounds got closer until one rocket hit the backyard of the house," Bakr said. "Then rockets started hitting the roof, and that resulted in the roof falling down completely."

When Bakr spoke to Melissa, he was hiding in a two bedroom house with 20 others in the neighborhood of Baba Amr. He said snipers had been shooting indiscriminately.

"Now I'm sitting in this house and I could be killed at any moment like what happened yesterday," he said. "At any moment now a rocket could hit."

When Melissa asked him how people were surviving, Bakr said it was worst than living in a prison.

"People are surviving on the water they have in their houses," he said. "There is no food. No clean water. All we have is some light food. Sometimes we don't even eat. Yesterday and the day before I did not eat. The day before that I only ate onions and garlic."

Bakr told Melissa that at this point, the only solution in Syria is for an international military intervention.

"Syrian blood is so cheap," Bakr said. "More than 10,000 men, women and children have been killed. These are massacres. And then for two people, an American and European, there are many statements from Europe. This man and woman are good friends of ours. I'm not talking badly about them, but just look how cheap the Syrian blood is for the international community in general and the Arab community specifically."

As Mark reported earlier, a United Nations panel said it has evidence top Syrian officials "bear responsibility for crimes against humanity and other gross human rights violations."

"Our message to the international community is to provide humanitarian corridors for us here in Baba Amr," Bakr continued. "We have more than 500 martyrs in the last 20 days. This is a huge number. I don't just want to say they were killed, they were shattered by these rockets. You walk here in Bab Amr and foul odors are everywhere because of the body parts scattered here and there. There are many bodies under the rubble that we can't get out. The situation is very tragic. We demand humanitarian corridors for medicine and food and clean water. We just want to live as half-humans, not even full human beings."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Now, another Syrian activist, one who says he was in the house yesterday with those foreign journalists when it was shelled. He goes by the name Abo Bakr, and he's a resident of the Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs that's been under siege for 20 days now. After the attack that killed Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik, Abo Bakr says he fled to a nearby house, already occupied by a family. He is now one of 20 people hiding in the two-room house. I spoke with Abo Bakr earlier today through an interpreter, and I began by asking him to describe yesterday's attack.

ABO BAKR: (Through translator) We were bombed yesterday with 25 rockets. We were not targeted. Nobody knew our location. We were hosting six foreign journalists. We were hearing so many explosions around us, but then the sound got closer until one rocket hit the backyard of the house. Then rockets started hitting the roof, and that resulted in the roof falling down completely. We were working in this place. The shelling intensified, and we decided to leave the building in groups. The second group was preparing to leave. That group had the journalists who were killed.

BLOCK: Activist Abo Bakr says he was with journalist Edith Bouvier when she was injured hiding in a corner of the house. We were holding each other, he said, with the rockets falling like rain above our heads. After the attack, he says he carried Bouvier to the nearest car and took her to a makeshift hospital. Immediately after they left, two more rockets hit the house. I asked him to tell me as much as he safely could about where he is now.

BAKR: (Through translator) I'm in Homs, in Baba Amr. There has been an intensive shelling since the early hours of the morning. Snipers are located in buildings around the neighborhood. Baba Amr is a middle-class neighborhood. Houses here are either one or two stories. This makes it easy for snipers to kill people. They're entertaining themselves by killing the people in front of them, in addition to shelling us.

BLOCK: Since the attacks yesterday, would you say that the bombing in this part of Homs, is it as intense as yesterday, more intense, or is there any sign that the army has stepped back?

BAKR: (Through translator) The intensity of the shelling has not changed since day one. Now I'm sitting in this house, and I could be killed at any moment, like what happened yesterday. At any moment now, a rocket could hit.

BLOCK: How are people surviving in Homs, Abo Bakr?

BAKR: (Through translator) It is as if we are living in a prison, but in an open prison, a prison where if anybody goes out, they can get killed. People are surviving on the water they have in their houses. There is no food, no clean water. All we have here is some light food. Sometimes we don't even eat. Yesterday and the day before, I didn't eat. The day before that, I ate only onions and garlic.

BLOCK: The international community, Abo Bakr, is meeting in Tunis. It's called Friends of Syria - 70 countries from around the world trying to figure out how to respond to what's going on in your country. What's your message to them?

BAKR: (Through translator) Syrian blood is so cheap. More than 10,000 men, women and children have been killed. These are massacres. Then for two people, an American and European, there are many statements from Europe. This man and woman are good friends of ours. I'm not talking badly about them, but just look how cheap the Syrian blood is for the international community in general and for the Arab community specifically.

(Through translator) Our message to the international community is to provide humanitarian corridors for us here in Baba Amr. We have more than 500 martyrs in the last 20 days. This is a huge number. I don't want to say they were just killed. They were shattered by these rockets. You walk here in Bab Amr and foul odors are everywhere because of the body parts scattered here and there. There are many bodies under the rubble that we can't get out. The situation is very tragic. We demand humanitarian corridors for medicine, food and clean water. We just want to live as half-humans, not even full human beings.

BLOCK: Apart from those humanitarian corridors, Abo Bakr, are you asking the international community to intervene militarily in Syria right now?

BAKR: (Through translator) The only solution for the Syrian revolution is the military solution and to have a no-fly zone. After the no-fly zone, we must be supported militarily. This is the only solution for our revolution to succeed. Bashar al-Assad has no mercy. Baba Amr is a residential area. There are only citizens, unarmed people. We just want a no-fly zone and limited military support. With our strong wills, we can defeat Bashar al-Assad.

BLOCK: Abo Bakr, it's good of you to talk with us today. Thank you very much.

BAKR: Thank you. Thank you very much.

BLOCK: That's a Syrian activist who goes by the name Abo Bakr speaking with us from the besieged neighborhood of Baba Amr in the city of Homs. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

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