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“Nothing Else but Nonviolence”


Account of Survivor Dr. Jalal Nofal

by wael.m
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“Nothing Else but Nonviolence”

Executive Summary: When you sit down with Jalal, you get impressed immediately with the power of the youth in a man who is over fifty years old. As you listen to him talking, you'll soon admire his zeal mixed with his pure thoughts. It is "Jalal Nofal", who graduated as a physician and specialized as a psychiatrist after having previously spent 8.5 years in different prisons under Hafez al-Assad's period. He has also survived four detentions for his activism in the Syrian revolution and defending its peaceful components.

Jalal started his intellectual life reading communist literature. Soon enough, he devoted most of his time to work within its parties and with their active members. He got arrested in his twenties following his activities with "the Communist Labour Party" and his belief in its ideology and revolutionary principles. However, his long years in prison gave his ideological consciousness deeper dimensions. His personal insights and direct observations led him into looking for successful methods of revolutionary action. After the "first uprising of the people", he believed that violence cannot lead to change. Thus, he studied different cultures and experiences that fostered his commitment to peaceful methods and to the "nonviolence" culture as means for safe change.

With the outbreak of revolution in Syria and its first calls for freedom and dignity, Jalal was present through his work, carrying with him those innovative ideas to maintain the peaceful forms of expressing the "second uprising of the Syrian people". He was arrested by the "State Security Branch" along with the banner he was holding up during the peaceful demonstration in "Arnous" Neighborhood, showing no resistance to security personnel. He didn't try to run away because he believed that the slogan of "No for sectarianism. Yes for democracy" was no crime. So he did not have to run away from its consequences.

Jalal didn't forget his job as a doctor. He participated in establishing "Damascus Doctors Coordination" to treat the wounded during peaceful demonstrations. This was the reason behind his second arrest by the "Air force Intelligence.” In this detention, he witnessed three deaths resulting from direct physical torture.

Although he was himself subject to severe torture, this didn't make him give up his faith in the importance of continuing to advocate for peaceful expression as part of the revolution by the people. After being released, he worked in coordination with "Syrian Revolutionary Youth Assembly" on reviving the civil peaceful movement in Damascus by having speakers chant the first slogans and songs of the revolutions in several spots in the city. That was the reason behind his longest and most dreadful detention during which he saw death face to face while in Branch 215 operated by Military Intelligence, where he was detained and witnessed numerous incidents of torture and murder as well as observed the ordeals most detainees experience there.

Jalal came out of the worst and most invulnerable security branch in one piece only to get detained, a month later, for the fourth time by "State Security Branch.” This time, however, it was a "coincidence.” After that, he decided to leave the country heading to one of the refuge countries. However, his soul refused to stay away from the reality and agony of Syrians, so he headed back to Turkey – specifically to the city with the largest number of Syrians – to continue his career as a psychiatrist.

To read the complete story/testimony and downloaded as (PDF) format, please click on this link.

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