PERPIGNAN, France (TrustLaw) – Suhair Atassi was beaten and detained for her involvement in protests at the start of Syria's uprising, before going into hiding and being smuggled out of the country late last year.
Now an exile living in Paris, the prominent opposition activist is trying to drum up support for humanitarian aid in Syria where the conflict has escalated. News from Syria seems to get bloodier by the day with civilians killed, wounded and uprooted by clashes between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebel groups.
For Atassi, who was born into a political family from Homs, it is important to remember that the 18-month Syrian "revolution" began with peaceful demonstrations against al-Assad’s rule.
As abuses by both sides in the war rage on with little intervention by foreign powers, the 40-year-old feels that Syrians who want the same democratic freedoms sought by activists in other Arab Spring countries have been abandoned by the international community.
Women, in particular, are suffering, and are being killed, raped and locked up for their political beliefs, Atassi says.
But they are refusing to bow to oppression and will continue struggling for their rights, she told TrustLaw in an interview at the Visa pour l'Image photojournalism festival in the southern French city of Perpignan, where she spoke on a panel about the Arab Spring hosted by Elle magazine.