Hakam Drak al Sibai was born on 27 July 1986 in Homs, Syria. He was his family’s only son and was extremely close to his only sister Hanadi. He was known among family and friends for being generous to a fault, going out of his way to help others. He was his grandmother’s favorite grandson, taking her on weekly trips to run errands, on weekend trips around the city, and was responsible for monitoring her medications. After studying Business Management, he decided to work at a local bank for two years and became engaged to be married.
When the Syrian revolution erupted, Hakam immediately registered with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent as a first responder, despite his parent’s objections and fears for his safety. At the time, the Red Crescent was on stand-by after protests, knowing that the regime was taking aim at protestors who would then need emergency aid.
On the 9th of September 2011, he was at the central location of the Red Crescent in Homs. Though he was not scheduled to be on call that day, a call came from an area called Bustan Al Diwan and he volunteered to help. He asked his friend, whose name was on the list of assigned volunteers for that trip, if he could join him. After retrieving the body of a protestor who had been shot by the regime, the ambulance had to cross a checkpoint. The military gave the ambulance approval to proceed but decided to open fire on the ambulance, in apparent revenge over the fact that they had been rescuing peaceful protestors that the regime had intentionally been targeting. Without a second thought, Hakam used his body as a shield to protect the injured protestor they had just rescued. His friend in the ambulance heard him calling out, “my eye, my eye!”. In total, 13 out of 36 bullets went into Hakam’s body and he was taken for medical treatment. He was put on a ventilator, his whole body brutally injured with eleven wounds to his eye, stomach, and chest.
Hakam was moved to the American Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon. He remained in a coma for 8 days, but regained consciousness for a short amount of time, during which he inquired how his friends were and whether they had made it. Tragically, Hakam died within a week of being transferred to Lebanon on the 15thof September 2012. He was taken back to Homs for burial, where thousands upon thousands from the city of Homs attended his funeral. His coffin was draped with the flag of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
His death marked the start of a pattern by the regime to deliberately and repeatedly target first responders, ambulances, health care facilities, and health care workers as part of a broader strategy to destabilize and intimidate revolutionaries. Hakam’s death was the first of countless other first responders who also lost their lives during the Syrian revolution in their attempts to rescue and evacuate the wounded.