The war in Syria - now in its 9th year - has flooded timelines and news headlines more times than anyone can count, and often it’s figures and numbers showing how many militia attacks happened each day or how many bombs were dropped on Aleppo.
Syrians, though, are flipping that narrative with personal, first-hand accounts shared through Twitter via the now viral hashtag #ICanNeverForget (or in Arabic, Ma Birooh men Baly).
The hashtags, which started circulating two days ago, come accompanied with accounts of traumatic experiences of violence that they’ve faced - and continue to face - during the war.
This one is particularly harrowing:— Fatima Said (@fatimazsaid) February 29, 2020
A young woman studying medicine was attending her anatomy class at university. The body they were dissecting that day belonged to her brother who was detained by the Assad regime. #ما_بروح_من_بالي https://t.co/64Nso77XtQ https://t.co/51Bepj25AR
One user -- Rama Al Zayat - wrote: “A young woman studying medicine was attending her anatomy class at university. The body they were dissecting that day belonged to her brother who was detained by the Assad regime” [translated by Fatima Said].
Another user wrote, “#ICanNeverForget the video Assadi Shabeeha (thugs) took while beating and kicking my uncle after they mutilated his body with bullets."
"#ICanNeverForget the video Assadi Shabeeha (thugs) took while beating and kicking my uncle after they mutilated his body with bullets."— Rami Emad (@RamiEmad1988) March 2, 2020
Syrians sharing their memories of the on-going Genocide on #ما_بيروح_من_بالي https://t.co/ygPTA9RfGA
Others have circulated photos and scenes from the war that were so brutal they were never able to forget, like the lifeless bodies of Syrian children, or the make-shift cemeteries, using papers instead of gravestones, made for people who died and were never identified or found by their families.
#ICanNeverForget this photo of the make-shift graves for people killed in bulk by Assadi Airstrikes ... no names, the handwritten tomb-signs say "Unknown Red Shirt", "Unknown with Anas Harem". I keep thinking of their families/lovers waiting. What a SICK WORLD#ما_بيروح_من_بالي https://t.co/npgo01fYFH— Rami Emad (@RamiEmad1988) March 2, 2020
Reminiscent perhaps of the power of storytelling that carried the #MeToo movement to its fruition, this hashtag is a loud and powerful outcry from Syrians across the globe whose suffering remains unimaginable to many. Scroll below to read some of the accounts.
"#ICanNeverForget my aunt telling me how old her son that was tortured to death in Assadi Torture Centers would have been, by now a university student, a graduate, a bridegroom; counting the stolen years."— Rami Emad (@RamiEmad1988) March 2, 2020
(Syrians sharing memories of Genocide on #ما_بيروح_من_بالي) https://t.co/TksUJ83Cny
I'd never presume to speak on behalf of Syrians, but I see the hashtag #ما_بروح_من_بالي ("I will not forget") trending as people share moments of #Syria's revolution. This image, from a 2011 protest in Al-Zabadani, has always stayed with me. The sign reads "Freedom is my sect." pic.twitter.com/OdaLtWN4Km— Michael Deibert (@michaelcdeibert) February 29, 2020
#CantForget my first day in the prison, dozens of men were tortured and their bodies were bloody, then the Assad jailers closed my eyes, tied my hands & punched me in my face.— جمان الحسن (@joman_hasan90) March 1, 2020
After 7 years of that day, I still feel that pain like it was yesterday.
"#ICanNeverForget our young neighbor with his innocent face, single child, Pharmacology Graduate, arrested for treating injured protestors in #Yarmouk. Only his ID papers were sent back to his family to be buried. I never cried more."— Rami Emad (@RamiEmad1988) March 2, 2020
Syrians remember Genocide #ما_بيروح_من_بالي https://t.co/X9DW6x04PP
"#ICanNeverForget when our neighbor was brought to 'Palestine' Torture Center and found me there. The ugliest moment of pain and guilt in my life is when she told me my family were told I was killed under torture."— Rami Emad (@RamiEmad1988) March 2, 2020
by @Joman_Hasan90 #ما_بروح_من_بالي https://t.co/FkJ8zDSWrq