On the 16th of December, the Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity will launch a public campaign to commemorate the displacement of the people of Aleppo, one of the largest mass forced displacements during the conflict in Syria, and a testament to the scale of the tragedy that the Syrian people are experiencing for more than a decade.

Four years after the Syrian regime forces controlled the entire city of Aleppo, which is one of the oldest and most familiar cities in the world and has always been an important center for trade and industry throughout the ages, and until recently, it remained the economic capital of Syria and the largest population center in it before it was destroyed by the Syrian regime forces and their allies. The scene of the departure of residents from the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo, as a result of the agreement which was forced by the Russians and the Iranians, is still a witness to the systematic forced displacement operations in Syria’s modern history since 2011.

For three months, Aleppo’s eastern city, which includes about 300 thousand civilians, was witnessed a bloody campaign by the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian allies in a way that has never been seen before. This happened amid complete failure of international institutions and influential parties in Syria, and after the Assad regime and its supporters committed war crimes against humanity that included a policy of mass siege, starvation, and a systematic bombing of civilian facilities, especially hospitals, in addition to preventing the entry of humanitarian aid. The regime and its allies targeted the unarmed civilians who were forced to leave the city, on foot, through the corridors that were declared safe by Russia, which was a deadly trap that reaped the lives of civilians, including children, in front of their own families.

Up to this day, images of the destruction in most of the eastern neighborhoods are still present and witnessed, as in the neighborhood of Al-Shaar, Al-Firdous, Al-Sukkari, Old Aleppo, and many other areas.

Yet the tragedy did not end with these horrific crimes against the people of Aleppo for in fact those who preferred returning to their homes over being displaced still pay a heavy price because of the Syrian regime’s negligence to provide the basic necessities of life such as water and electricity, not to mention the continued extortion and repression of their rights represented by the policy of detention, enforced disappearance and other criminal methods.

This sad memory is still a deep wound in the Syrians’ hearts that is no less painful than the forced displacement that the Syrian regime forces and its allies have imposed upon them in many Syrian regions and cities. However, what the Syrians suffered in terms of injustice, persecution, and great pain was nothing but a motivation for them to unite behind their rights regardless of race and religion.

The Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity, with its popular human rights movement, reflects the voice of all displaced Syrians from all regions and the Syrian people’s diversity, regardless of their social, religious, or ethnic affiliations. It seeks to ensure the right of safe, voluntary, and dignified return for all Syrian refugees and displaced persons and the effective application of a safe environment according to the definition of the displaced Syrians themselves.

On the occasion of the anniversary of the displacement of the people of Aleppo, the Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity affirms:

  1. The right of voluntary, safe, and dignified return for all displaced persons never fades . It should be a universal guaranteed right.
  2. The demographic change policy implemented by the Syrian regime and its allies will not change any of this reality, nor will it discourage Syrians from holding criminals accountable and pursuing them in all international forums.
  3. There can be no voluntary and safe return except through fulfilling the conditions for a safe environment in Syria which includes, but not limited to, releasing the detainees, restoring the displaced people’s rights, revealing the fate of the forcibly disappeared, among others.

The campaign will include many videos and a photo gallery that reflects the story of the city and the displacement, in addition to several opinion articles and dialogues that will be published successively on SACD website and its social media platforms under the hashtag #راجعين.

The campaign will take place over the next five days to convey the impact of displacement on the people of Aleppo and express their thoughts about the return to their city. All Syrians and free people of the world are invited to participate in this campaign to make the voice of the people of Aleppo heard on the anniversary of their displacement.

Syrian Association for Citizens’ Dignity