Adam Hedengren
Last updated: 1 February, 2014

Meanwhile in Syria: A rebel fighter chooses the pharmacy

“Any news? What is happening? Is it ending soon?” Those were the constant messages I received from inside Yarmouk camp during the initial stages of Geneva 2. My friend, a rebel soldier who hadn’t eaten in days, suddenly saw a glimmer of hope.

It was the first time in years he believed in an end to the misery. But I did my best to stay realistic. Chartering an overly optimistic course of coming peace talks would do only harm in the end.

My friend left Assad’s forces early on to fight the regime on the rebel side. But his language turned increasingly radical. At one point he even sent me a cartoon illustrating his group’s latest Facebook logo; Islamic proverbs thrown around alongside high-artillery. I was afraid he moved in a religiously extremist direction, which would have been a first. During my Damascus days my friend had little to show for religious hardliners.

His pharmaceutical career in the midst of war is the outmost form of nonviolent resistance

“I quit fighting,” he surprisingly told me on Friday. Then came a video clip showing him wearing a white robe in a Sadiliya, a pharmacy. First, to my own shame, I thought it was a joke. Or perhaps a creative way to work around regime barricades. And of course, in some sense it is. His pharmaceutical career in the midst of war is the outmost form of nonviolent resistance; a cleverly disguised passive protest that helps to sustain life in rebel-held Yarmouk.

“I am now working in the humanitarian part of this revolution,” he continued. “You know I was working in medicine research for the government, you saw my job once.”

Apparently he met with a man a couple of weeks back who mentioned the idea of opening a pharmacy in southern Damascus to help people who couldn’t get access to what they needed. With the financial support of an NGO, they set up shop two weeks ago.

“They are sending money to buy medicine. Then we can give it to sick people for free. But we only found the simple medicine, not the stuff that fights war injuries and so on. I have organised the pharmacy and tried so hard to look for the very important medicine but didn’t find it.”

Then it came back. The classic line I have heard so many times these past few years.

“I hope this war is gonna end.” 

Your Middle East has decided to not show the related video for security reasons.