Dr. Ammar Kahf, Executive Director of the Omran Center for Strategic Studies and a board member of the Syrian Forum, participated in a side event hosted by the Syrian Forum. This event, sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the European Union to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva, was held in conjunction with the 54th session of the Human Rights Council.
The event, held on September 26, 2023, at the United Nations Palace in Geneva, was titled "Reshaping Syria's Future: Examining the Roles of Unions, Student Federations, and NGOs in Supporting Human Rights."
This event delved deep into the roles played throughout Syria's history by various entities, including unions, student federations, and NGOs. It shed light on how the regime potentially used these organizations as tools for repression and explored their evolution and possible future manipulation by the regime.
One of the primary objectives was to spotlight the pivotal dynamics shaping the human rights situation in Syria. The event aimed to offer a comprehensive understanding of the enduring challenges the Syrian people face and the possible paths forward in their quest for freedom.
In his address, Dr. Kahf elaborated on the Ba'ath Party's strategy since its ascent to power. He discussed how the party endeavored to mold civil society to fit its vision of a totalizing state. This was achieved by legally binding all labor, student, and community organizations to the Ba'ath Party, a practice persisting into Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Dr. Kahf pointed out the Ba'ath Party's strategy of monopolizing the National Union of Syrian Students. This move was designed to dominate student activism at university levels, leading to the establishment of Assad's Regime and the formation of the Ba'ath brigades in 2012. These brigades aimed to mobilize university students for operations to overtake cities and quell peaceful protests.
Further, Dr. Kahf highlighted the National Union's significant role in turning the conflict into a societal issue. This was done by arming student supporters and enabling them to suppress, detain, and torture students advocating for peaceful economic and political reforms.
In conclusion, Dr. Kahf perceives the National Union of Syrian Students as a pivotal instrument for the Assad regime. The regime uses it to secure its international reputation, especially in academic institutions offering scholarships to individuals were involved in post-2011 massacres against civilians or those who actively engaged in any kind of military or security operations.
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Author: Yaman Zabad