Yahya Shurbaji was born in the city of Daraya in the Damascus countryside in 1979. He was educated at the University of Damascus at the Faculty of Science.
From a young age he was active in his society. He was a member of a youth group in Daraya aimed at educating the community on various topics and revitalizing the role of youth in society. This group contributed to several activities including organizing rallies rejecting the American occupation of Iraq and spreading awareness about the corruption and bribery widespread in state institutions and society in general. The group was active between 1998 and 2003.
Prior to the revolution, Yahya Shurbaji was arrested and imprisoned for several years, stripped of his civil rights and subjected to multiple forms of harassment by the Assad regime, such as travel bans, threats of imprisonment, and constant harassment by security agents.
When the Syrian revolution began Yahya participated in many demonstrations. He became known for his peaceful activism and his belief that non-violent civil disobedience was the best way to confront the Assad regime. Yahya also called for the renewal of the constitution, which for Assad’s regime was merely ink on paper without any benefit to citizens. He also demanded freedom and democracy for Syrians, seeing them as the cornerstone to the development of the country. He also called for cleansing the judiciary of corruption and nepotism.
Yahya Shurbaji was arrested in September 2011, along with Ghiath Matar, another peaceful activist from Daraya. His family received the news of his death in the regime’s prisons in 2013, which was confirmed by the Syrian Network for Human Rights.
Yahya Shurbaji is a man who lived and died believing in his principles of non-violent struggle. One of his most famous saying was: “To be killed is better than being a murderer.”