The Syrian refugees in Germany are observing two election processes these days. On the one hand, the German elections, which will be held at the end of this summer, and, on the other hand, the elections in their home country Syria, which will take place at the beginning of the summer.
The paradox is that the refugees are only spectators in both processes. With the first, they cannot vote because they do not have German citizenship, which enables them to participate in the election, and with the second, they cannot vote because they do not want to participate in fake elections in order not to give legitimacy to a regime that killed his people and destroyed the land. But what is more important: The Syrians everywhere lack the feeling of citizenship.
worked in Syria as a political correspondent for a major daily newspaper. Because of his critical reporting, the 47-year-old was imprisoned from 2002 to 2004, his ID was confiscated and he was banned from working. After his release, he switched to an underground website that was closed by the regime after eight years. During the Arab Spring he wrote under a pseudonym for an opposition newspaper. When it became too dangerous in Syria, he fled to Germany with his wife and two daughters. The family has lived in Berlin since summer 2015. In the SZ, Yahya Alaous writes regularly about “My Life in Germany”.
For all of the decades they lived in Syria, Syrians could not obtain the right to free elections as free citizens. The elections there were and still are an artificial, formal process with fixed results – before they even started. The candidates are clowns, the election festivals are farce, the candidates’ election programs consist only of lies that they themselves do not believe.
In Germany the dynamic of the electoral process has not yet started, but the news that pops up here and there, such as party programs and their content, has a disturbing effect on the refugees. It is logical that the parties’ positions on the refugee issue are the main reason that leads refugees to pursue the elections.
The ink has stopped coming off
But that’s not all, there are many other issues that make refugees participate in this debate, which is increasing day by day. For example the positions on general immigration issues, labor laws, education and the environment. But more important, in my opinion, is their experience of free and genuine elections and their participation in this democratic tradition in some way. Because they have never been allowed to experience that in their countries.
In an earlier conversation with a German friend about his choices, he told me that his family traditionally votes for a particular party, but also that it is not set in stone. It would not prevent him from simply breaking this tradition if he felt that the programs of this party are no longer convincing to him.
When he asked about my options in my home country, Syria, he was amazed when I told him that in my entire life I had not participated in a single election in my country, nor did I elect a single person to bring it to parliament .
I told him about Syrians who had spent years of their lives in jail for refusing to vote in the polls and those who refused to be false witnesses, who stayed in their homes during the elections to get them up Security guards deployed on the streets did not force them to go to the polling station and vote. I told him how disgusting the ink was on the finger of a colleague who was forcibly pushed to the polling station.
I told him that no matter how the ink was washed, the ink would never come off and the finger would never get clean.
Better to go to the polling station than to jail
Every Syrian has a way of communicating with the motherland to hear news from the suffering and torn country, including the news of the elections. Preparations for the presidential elections in Syria are underway. Slogans promising citizens that they will get enough food to enable their children to sleep on a full stomach are posted on billboards.
Certainly the starving Syrians do not believe these promises, but they are unable to protest. Because if you saw with your own eyes how the regime destroyed the country, how it killed and arrested thousands of Syrians, you would rather go to the polling stations than to the prisons, you will not risk another rebellion. Because whoever has destroyed his country once will not hesitate to destroy what is left of it.
These elections will not open the door to salvation for the Syrian people as the regime is portraying. Rather, they will open new doors of agony and suffering, because the country does not need vain and useless elections, but a political transition that first restores the sovereignty of the people. Because at the moment foreign influences predominate on the country and the people.
The country does not need elections or huge screens of a forcibly elected president while millions of people lie almost naked in the streets and camps.
Translation: Jasna Zajcek