Syria- Graffiti in War
In war torn Syria were millions of people have been displaced and thousands have lost their lives, a local Syrian civil society organization, Kesh Malek(or checkmate) is working to supply humanitarian aid to common people. The organization was started by a group of young Syrians in late 2011 to help Syrians by organizing various campaigns.
Kesh Malek started ‘Banksy Syria’ a graffiti campaign named after the influential graffiti artist Banksy. Banksy Syria campaign started in early 2019, just as the military offensive in Idlib began to intensify. The aim of this campaign is to make world know what is happening in Idlib and Syria. To echo the voice of common people living there who reject war and hope for a peaceful future.
The people associated with this campaign desperately want to send a message to the world and to highlight the situation in Idlib and Syria. Most of the text in these graffiti’s is written in English and referencing international events to target western audiences.
Haleem Kawa, a Syrian refugee living in Turkey is one of the organizers working with Kesh Melek to run this graffiti campaign. Most of the graffiti’s demands the solidarity and support for the people of Syria. To make their message to reach more and more people the artwork is posted on social media. The aim and focus of the whole campaign is to bring forth the voice of people inside Syria which is subsided by scandalous war. In an interview Kawa had said,
“Our goals are to transfer the voice of people inside Syria abroad. The main messages you hear in media are just about war and killing. No one hears the voices of people. We want to raise their voices and show the world what these people believe in—freedom, dignity—and to put a spotlight on how the government is not giving these rights to people.”
Kawa has used graffiti as a form of resistance since he was a student. He had painted graffiti’s during the early days of the Syrian revolution. Kawa believes that the Banksy Syria campaign will continue despite constant threat of losing one’s life. He believes that no matter what Banksy Syria will make world know that civilians inside Idlib, including groups are doing what they can to help each other survive.
The graffiti in Syria illustrates the suffering of people in Syria and questions the silence of world leaders. Kawa in an interview had said, “We want the world to know the scale of the crimes and the pain inside Idlib and to know that the civilians are not the same as the terror organizations,” said Kawa. “The solution is not shelling and bombing. There are so many civilians inside Idlib who are against what’s going on. There are people resisting.”