I’m Sawsan Habbali from Homs. I studied English literature but didn’t finish it as I took part in the revolution in 2011. I have been displaced with my family to the Aleppo suburbs.
Usama, my brother, was ambitious like every young man in the country, wanting to get a job and attend higher education. He had hoped to leave the country, but when the revolution started in 2011, that changed his life.
Usama was younger than me and he was always there for me. He was more a friend to me, and the holder of my secrets. Usama has encouraged me and empowered me through my activism in the revolution.
Usama was one of the prominent leading activists in Homs. He worked as a citizen journalist to document the regime violations and delivered medications to besieged areas. He didn’t spare any efforts to work as a paramedic to save the casualties of the regime bombing, even after he once got severely injured. Usama travelled to Lebanon to get treatment. Usama got arrested while crossing into Syria on August 18th, 2012.
We tried everything to find out about his whereabouts but couldn’t get any information. I got married to Usama’s best friend in December 2016, and at that time, I was still imagining him coming through the door to hug me and pass us his congratulations. I got pregnant and we were thinking how happy Usama will be when he comes out to learn he is going to be an uncle.
Instead, our hopes were destroyed when we learnt the news about Usama’s death in Sednaya Military Prison. We even got a date confirming his execution in March, 2015. My daughter never got the chance to meet her uncle, who was a hero and will be forever remembered. We always sit and talk about Usama, the great loving uncle that she should have had if the regime allowed him to live.
Usama, who wanted a better life for him, me, and all Syrians. Today, we won’t forget Usama and thousands of Syrians who spoke up for our dignity. The results of their fight will not be in vain, and one day our children will live to see justice take place in a free and peaceful Syria.