“Imagine, how many times will we have a revolution in our lives? How can I leave a dream that is coming true? And what will I tell my children when they ask me about my work in it? Will I answer them “When the revolution started, I left my country and went to take care of my future”. How could there be a future without a free homeland ?”
Bassel Shehadeh is a Syrian film director and computer engineer, and one of the most prominent activists in the 2011-2012 Syrian uprising. Born in Damascus January 1984, Shehadeh majored in IT at Damascus University in 2006, and developed an interest in archeology, music, photography and filming.
Months before the Syrian uprising against the Assad regime, Bassel showed interest in the Arab spring and organized a sit-in in front of the Egyptian embassy to condemn the Mubarak regime’s crackdown on peaceful demonstrators.
Despite the violence of the Assad regime and the implied risks, as well as his health problems since he suffered from diabetes, he was one of the first to organize peaceful demonstrations in Damascus when the revolution began. On July 13, 2011, he was arrested during a demonstration of intellectuals in the al-Miden neighborhood of Damascus.
His talent in film production earned him a Fulbright scholarship to complete a master’s degree in film production at Syracuse University, which he joined after his release from the regime’s prisons around fall 2011. After a couple of months, Bassel decided to go back to Syria where he settled in Homs, march 2012.
During his stay in Homs, he trained more than fifteen photographs in video-editing. One of his most prominent students was the young citizen journalist and film director, Ahmed al-Assam, known as Ahmed abu-Ibrahim.
Bassel Shehadeh also started filming his own movie, ‘Streets of freedom’, which he could never finish as he was killed shortly after starting it. The unfinished movie was published online and lasts 24 minutes, it ends with Shehadeh’s last scene. You can watch it here : https://youtu.be/nIqJQEyJSbc
Three months after Bassel’s return to Syria, he was wounded with a group of activists, including Ahmed al-Assam, after regime forces shelled the al-Safsafa neighborhood in Bab Al-Sebaa in Homs. He died from his wounds and was buried in Homs, at his request, in May 28, 2012.
After his death, the regime forces laid siege to his home and prevented his friends in Damascus from going to the church and offering their prayers during his funeral. Syracuse University, where Bassel was pursuing his master’s degree, issued a statement condemning the killing of Bassel and offering condolences to his family and friends.
Bassel did not want to leave Syria and abandon the revolution, saying that he would be ashamed in front of his future family. Killed by the regime, he was finally unable to have a family or children. Bassel’s work and movie were left unfinished, but his dreams of a free and just homeland still live on, and we will continue telling the world about Bassel’s story and action for Freedom.
To see his unfinished movie : https://youtu.be/nIqJQEyJSbc
And the music he started composing for it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XZ6wdXI6EE