Prominent exiled opposition figure Michel Kilo died from being infected by the coronavirus on Monday in Paris after a lifetime of peaceful struggle against President Bashar al-Assad’s Baath party rule in Syria, colleagues said.
Kilo, who turned 80 last year, was a key player in efforts to form a credible non-violent alternative to Assad’s regime during the early stages of the conflict that erupted a decade ago.
“A great loss. Professor Michel Kilo departed us today after he was infected with the coronavirus,” senior opposition figure Nasr al-Hariri wrote in a statement.
“Michel was an intellectual and patriotic powerhouse and his dream was to see a free and democratic Syria. God willing, the Syrian people will carry on this dream and see it through,” he said.
Kilo, who was also a writer, was born in 1940 to a Christian family in Syria’s Mediterranean town of Lattakia, a bastion of the Assad family’s Alawite minority.
He spent several years in prison under the rule of Hafez al-Assad and of his son Bashar. In exile, Kilo had been living in France.
He published his last message to Syria on April 8 in which he called on all Syrians to think of freedom as their ultimate goal. He called for the unity of all Syrians and to support “those with knowledge, thought, and noble positions among you. You have many of them. Listen to them and take what they suggest, and do not underestimate an experienced thinker, for it is part of your wealth, your symbolic wealth, and part of your history.”
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.