Ahmed al-Hajji, the first free man to speak out bravely on Assad’s screens.
In 2011, Ahmed was a student in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Aleppo. He was one of the most enthusiastic people seeking political change since the start of the Arab Spring in Tunisia. Long before the revolution started Ahmed was already a member of the Syrian opposition Communist Party headed by Qadri Jamil.
He lived in Aleppo’s Airport Road area, located between Al-Sakhour and Al-Bab neighborhoods. Ahmed was active in both neighborhoods and also coordinated demonstrations at Aleppo’s University. His bravery toed the line to recklessness– he participated in the first and most powerful demonstrations of Aleppo, as in the Umayyad Mosque in March & April 2011.
On a live broadcast on Syrian TV in front of Aleppo Citadel he openly and sharply criticized the regime’s media and supported the calls for freedom in other cities by saying:
“I want to pray for peace for the martyrs of freedom who sacrificed their blood for this country and the dignity of its citizens. For the first time, I feel that the Syrian media has started trying, even with shy steps, to be a representative of the people and away from the glorification and deification of people. I refuse the policy of accusing them of treason, the Syrian person loves his country, and the best proof of this is his tolerance of this terrible situation for decades, and he abandoned his dignity as a throw to the eyes of the resistance.
You (official media) despise the Syrian people, we are Syrians and we have not heard of the existence of Salafi principalities except from you… Is it shameful for the regime to respond to the demands of the people, even if under the pressure of street demonstrations?”
He spoke of the shabiha’s (government forces, nicknamed after a popular method of torture, “shabh”, in Syria’s prisons) oppression and attacks on the unarmed demonstrators. Ahmed also critiqued the performance of military groups and of the political opposition in protecting the Syrian people rights.
In addition to coordinating demonstrations and organizing activist groups, he and his friends established the AMC Aleppo Media Center and used to accompany foreign journalists arriving in Syria around 2012.
When ISIS took control of most of the liberated areas of Aleppo and its surrounding, Ahmed was very frustrated and went to Turkey for a short period in search of opportunity to start his life again elsewhere.
When he finally received a visa opportunity abroad, he found out one of his friends was kidnapped by ISIS. Ahmed decided to go back to Aleppo to work against the violence of ISIS and the regime alike. Shortly after coming back to Aleppo, the morning of December 28, 2013, Ahmed wrote on his Facebook page:
“I woke up this morning and my soul was lost from me… I became a body without a soul.”
The same day, he died in a regime bombing with an explosive barrel that targeted Al-Hilaniya.
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