As part of the Meedan translation series on the Arab Spring, a journalist from Homs recounts his experience of living through an uprising facing a violent crackdown. The author's name is not published here to protect his safety. This article was translated by Anas Qtiesh.
Homs was amongst the first cities that rose in outrage for the wounded Daraa. I still remember very clearly the first cry for freedom in Homs; "Our souls, our blood, we sacrifice for Daraa! Our souls, our blood, we sacrifice for Daraa! God, Syria, and Freedom! The people want to topple the governor." The first chants of freedom came from my city.
From the beginning, the security forces and regime thugs faced the protests with tear gas. It was a glorious scene; thousands gathered. One bearded man was carried on people's shoulders, and a Christian women was carried on shoulders as well.
My city got a taste of freedom, and never backed down. On 17 April, Syria's independence day, 17 young men from Homs became martyrs. The next day, Homs went to the streets to mourn them.
We passed through all the neighborhoods in Homs. I don't know from which house came the rice grains that settled in my hair. Christian families throwing rice on the mourners. Sunni and Shia women ululating. The mourners were crying, and the protesters were experiencing through their tears a shiver and love far greater than their chants.
Security forces were red in the face with anger. We went to the city's center. The Clock Square... or "Freedom Square." All of Homs was there; Women, youth, men, and children from all sects and religions. Homs had 12 hours of freedom, then a new massacre occurred. We still don't know the number of the martyrs or those who were injured.
My city was never late to answer freedom's calling. It was present every Friday, and now everyday. Homs, where many opposition figures and intellectuals grew up. From Tayyeb Tizini to Burhan Ghalioun, and many others.
Homs didn't rest day or night, neither did the security forces, thugs, and army. Homs has been going to sleep to the sound of gunshots for a long time. Not a day has passed without protests in which everyone participated.
Homs is known for the kindness of its people. Their sense of humor was and still is the joy of the revolution in Syria.