The external view, as filmed by the media in the province of Latakia for the preparation for the upcoming democratic presidential election shows the joy and happiness of all the people of the city, because they have got the right of vote, which they have not exercised before.
The Syrian regime media calls these elections a constitutional right. In order to get closer to reality, I will convey to you three meetings I have made with three people representing a large percentage of the population living in the city of Latakia:
The first was with an Alawite woman who is employed in the public sector:
Q: Will you vote in the elections?
A: Sure, I will.
Q : Does this mean you are convinced they are democratic elections?
A: Since when do we do what we are convinced of? What I am completely convinced of is this: If I don't participate, I might lose my job in the government and I am responsible for my young children with my husband. As you know, he is a taxi driver, and all what we earn monthly hardly fills the simplest requirements to live with these high prices. Could you provide us with these things if I was fired from my job because I didn’t vote in the elections?
(Note: Article 49 of the Labor Law which is still active in Syria permits the presidency of the High Council of Ministers to fire any worker in the public sector , without providing a reason. Thousands in Syria were fired before the uprising for political reasons. Currently, just to doubt loyalty to the regime is enough to be fired).
The second meeting was with an Alawite woman whose son has been detained for a year and four months.
Q : Will you vote in the presidential election?
A: Yes, I'm going to.
A: (With tears in her eyes) For more than a year and four months and I have been looking for my son. I finally managed to find him at the Palestine Branch (a branch of military intelligence). They did not let me see him, but I knew he was in a very bad health. They talked about the possibility of sending him to court after a short period. Do you want me to lose my chance to see him alive? If I did not participate in the election, I certainly would not see him again.
The third meeting was with a man from an Aleppian Sunni family who fled with his family and brothers, totalling over fifty people, to Latakia
Q : Will you participate in the election?
A: Yes, certainly, and not only me; all the family will do the same.
A: We fled Aleppo after the battles intensified and we have been here since about a year. Our situation is not good, but much better than those who have fled to refugee camps in Turkey. We communicate with our relatives in the camps in Turkey, and most of them tell us that it is like a big prison, and that life is intolerable there. On the other hand, we cannot go back to our homes in Aleppo for two reasons: firstly, most of them are destroyed, secondly, our region is in the hands of radical movements and therefore we will live under their mercy. They claim to be Islamists but Islam is innocent of them. They do not know God. On this basis, suppose that we did not participate in the elections and the regime asked us to leave, where would we go? Did the opposition abroad open their homes for us? Or did they open their pockets and full them with our rights? We only want to live, and this is the best choice we have.
One man refused to answer any questions. He was sitting in front of a tent to receive condolences for the death of his son who was a volunteer in the army. This tent was located at the end of ar-Raml ash-Shamali street, an Alawite neighborhood. At the beginning of the street was a tent to promote the elections. I heard from some people close to the old man that he spends his day crying and cursing everyone, without exception, including Bashar Assad and the opposition. His curses can sometimes be heard by the people in the campaign tent, but no one gives any attention to the insults of the voracious man. His relatives assurede that he will not participate in any elections.
As for most of the Christians living in the province of Latakia, after many calls that considered them undesirable in the areas controlled by the Islamic radical factions, especially after the Armenian were expelled from Kassab, they find their security close to the regime which did not harm their religious sanctities publicly. This made a majority of them tend to want to participate in the election, in addition to the fact that large numbers of them are government employees.
This is the reality of the scene in Latakia. The Shabbiha and the National Defense Forces roam the streets in their cars, expressing their enthusiasm for the nomination of Bashar Assad, while most people believe that it makes no difference at all and tthat the most important thing is to secure their daily life, which has become intolerable due to the the high prices and anticipation of death at every moment, either because of the shelling from the Islamic battalions stationed in the countryside, or because of the participation of their children in the battles of the army.
In conclusion, the Syrians in areas controlled by the regime are generally unable to refuse the election. Therefore, is it human or legal to consider these elections legitimate, whatever the results are? Democracy is supposed to be a system that enables individuals to participate meaningfully in the election of their actual representatives. If the Syrian people cannot express themselves, is the world also powerless? I think that the civilized world faces a humanitarian responsibility imposed by the humanitarian situation; if these elections are not at least considered illegal, we should admit that they do not represent the Syrian people.