Thursday, January 15, 2009

CNN Transcript: An interview with Asma Al Assad, Syrian First Lady.

ASMA AKHRAS AL-ASSAD, SYRIAN FIRST LADY: Just imagine your children living in Gaza. How could that reality be? Let's talk through the scenario.

You wake up in the morning, you feed -- you give your children a glass of milk. Mothers in Gaza can't do that. But why? Because no milk gets through.

You send your children off to school knowing that they'll be safe, knowing that they're going to get a good education. Mothers in Gaza don't do that. Children don't go to school because it's not safe, because -- it's just beyond belief, to be honest.

You cook a meal. Mothers in Gaza can't cook. Why can't they cook?
Because they don't have access to fuel. They don't even have access to the basic food stuff (ph) that is required to get a meal together. So children don't eat.

Mothers -- think about when you put your children to bed at night. This is something I think on a daily basis. You put your children to bed at night and you expect to see them in the morning. That's a luxury that people in Gaza just do not have.

So what would it have been like for you having -- living under those circumstances? That is something that we just cannot survive and wait for it to stop.

CAL PERRY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let me ask you this, are you sad? Are you frustrated? Are you angry? I mean, you have to go to these meetings, you have to go to these dinners. Is it difficult with what's going on?

AL-ASSAD: It's been difficult to smile, and that's not just me, it's a lot of people that I'm meeting, it's a lot of people that I'm talking to. It's the U.N. agencies on the ground that are seeing some really horrific things.

The stories of the psychological trauma that we're not hearing on our TVs, we're not seeing on our TVs and we're not reading in our newspapers. It's something that's going to have a long-term effect on life not just in the region, but actually in the global community that we all live in, because when you see people suffering like this, it doesn't give you a sense of optimism, it doesn't give you a sense of hope. If anything, it pushes you to become more desperate, and when you are desperate, you have nothing to live for.

PERRY: Now, the Israelis say they're protecting themselves, right to self-defense, they're under bombardment of missiles, their children are under threat.

What's your response to that?

AL-ASSAD: Lift the embargo. Lift the embargo. It will -- lift the embargo and engage in a peace process, a real process.

As you said, talk is cheap. It's not enough to say that we want peace.
What are you going to do to achieve peace? What we're seeing on our TV is not a step in the right direction.

PERRY: Do you have any optimism for the future, in the near future?

AL-ASSAD: You have to remain optimistic. You have to remain -- you have to try and keep working towards your goals and objectives, otherwise you get sucked in with everything else that's going on. So, yes, you have to.

It's difficult, especially at times like this, that you have to keep looking in the direction that you want to go. You have to keep not just looking, you need to keep working towards it, to be honest. And you need to grab every opportunity, every platform, every exchange, every experience to work towards the agenda that is set, and that is peace.

Again, give peace a chance.

CNN International.

1 comment:

B. said...

Dear Asma Akhras al-Assad - I suppose you are "a dear" person.. At least I know you're welleducated as well as you must be familiar with the very direct and nonconfirm way we speak to authorities in Europe - so please don't take this as an offense. It certainly is not. It just the way we both use to speak to fellowstudents - or to clients - when we want to convince them of the fact that they are doing something in a way, which is wrong, and as we know could be carried out so much better.
So what I'm gonna tell you goes like this:
You point out the lack of milk in Gaza letting the reader more or less implicit know, that you disagree with the situation for arabs in Gaza and you show us an imaginaire vision of a mother wanting to bring her child - a simple and normal thing - milk. Offcourse you disagree! Who does not? But if I ask you about a semilar situation: wouldn't you - or wouldn't you think any arab mother, or should we in particular say any lebanese mother - would like to get up in the morning saying goodmorning to her son, or to wellcome him home from school or job, or to be able to tell him "have a good time", when he goes out with his friends in the weekends? Don't you, Asma, think that too?
To be honest to your own describtion about the mother/the child/the milk, you can hardly answer anything that disagrees, can you?
So tell me, wellargumented, why don't you see to, that all the the arab mothers - especially lebanese mothers, which occurs in in this scenario in a huge amount, get their sons back from the Telfiteh, Adra, Saydnaya, Mazzeh and Tadmur prisons?
You know they exist, couse you grew up out of Syria and as you were not either deaf, blind or plain stupid, you surely knows what goes on in those places.
If you should doubt, then go visit...! And when you come back again and hands one of your on children a glas of milk or sends them to school, then give the mothers, that have been taken this pleasure of doing so away, by - even without a trial - throwing their sons to jail. How dare you look at yourself in the mirror after having been i Syria for so many years now without putting an end to this horrible situation that goes on every single day in the dirty jails of your country? Think about it, watching your own children. If - just if - you, even having watch your own child, still cannot find a reason to do so; the make a mense and put and end to this dreadfully diabolic places, then think of, what a relief of all these innocent non-trial prisoners should do for your image - and for your husband's ditto!
And it is needed nowadays; the world has it's eye's tightly fixed on the country, that one of your children is suppose to be the president for some day.
Anyway Asma, can you imagine turning your husbands role as a leader over to your son at all..? I suppose you can. But can you imagine to turn over at country with these horrible jails to your son? Can you let him - your own son - stand facing the rest of the world as the responsible for these jails, these torturescenarios that goes on several time every day, this lack of health facilities, this lack of treating people with just a bit of dignity? Will that be the country, which you will be handling over to your own son to be responsible for? Are you responsible or ain't it a way of letting your own down?
Sometimes the hardest way gets the easiest one in the long run, Asma.
Please let me know of your steps forward to make the prisons in your country less ashamefull. I should be glad be help you with any kind of adwise you should need.
Best regards from me to you - and good luck to you with the projekt of turning the syrian prisons into places you, your family and your country should not have be so terribly ashamed about as the fact actually is now, where at least you - as grown up abroad - must be sneaking along the sidewalk deeply ashamed of the fact of what goes on in those prisons on a daily regular base...