Image courtesy of Syria Untold.

By Leila Nachawati

These days everybody is talking a possible US strike on Syria. Politicians, media and public opinion are divided between the “yes-or-no to intervention” parties.

Yet, by doing so, we are framing Syria in the wrong way. We tend to treat Syria as a matter of foreign intervention, as a geopolitical game between super-powers. This way we forget that, more than two years ago, peaceful demonstrations started in Syria as a civil society movement led by Syrians, asking for reforms, freedom and dignity. Today, the civic movement that took to Syrians to the streets in 2011 remains viable, yet highly neglected by the geopolitical conversations and the focus on militarization that tend to ignore the grassroots movement on the ground.

Syria Untold is a project that brings together Syrian journalists, activists and designers from inside and outside the country to refocus the conversation on civil society and it’s goals. The website frames information on Syria within its historical, political and social context, and to focus on Syrian civil society and the way it has been coping with the increasing violence and militarization of the conflict by producing actions of creative resistance, civil disobedience and self-management.

Our project brings together independent voices, stories from the ground, personal accounts of daily resistance. We focus on everything about Syrian civil society whose crucial importance has been lost in the polarization created by the “yes” or “no” debates, and we highlight the importance of grassroots projects and civil disobedience against all forms of extremism and violence.

Syria Untold combines content aggregation from social media- including video-  and information collected and shared by grassroots activists with original content produced by our team on the ground in Syria, both in English and in Arabic.

This experimental short video entitled “Have a Deep Breath” used as its point of departure the August 2013 chemical attacks in the eastern Damascus suburbs. It was dedicated to the victims of the attack. 

Given the present situation, it is more key than ever to take a close look at this civil society component which has been neglected by politicians and the media, therefore by the international public opinion shaped by the latter.

Our site aims to provides an overview of the current development in the Syrian civic movement and its evolution. We’ve gathered an archive of material and a list of the creators and groups working in the field. We aim to make non-violent, civil society building more visible and to frame it within a very complex picture.

We hope that you’ll check it out, and let us know what you think.

A version of this post appeared on Leila’s blog earlier this week. 

Leila is a Spanish-Syrian blogger “obsessed with freedom of speech,” an author for Global Voices and a co-founder of Syria Untold. You can find her on Twitter @leila_na.

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