Message from Mr. Mazen Darwish

His Excellency President of the Federal Republic of Germany; dear Roland Berger, the founder of the Foundation; ladies and gentlemen: The fact that I cannot be with you today is an indicator of the fact that despotism does not deprive us only of our freedom, but also of any possibility of joy or happiness.

Nevertheless, I feel very proud to have this opportunity of addressing you while I am in Syria and you are in Germany; Syria, which offered the world the alphabet and Germany, which offered the world modern philosophy; Syria, which edified the world with the possibility of dreaming, singing and dancing under fire; and Germany, which taught the world how to rise from the wreckage of despotism, division and achieve self-reconciliation and reconciliation with the past.

Some five decades ago, a wall was constructed to divide the city of Berlin, separate its people, and be a barrier to democracy. In Syria, over five decades, another wall was purposely constructed: a wall of fear that was built to achieve the same goals.

Several days ago, Germany celebrated the anniversary of pulling down that wall, years after a struggle during which hundreds of victims fell while trying to cross towards freedom. We in Syria have learned from these young men and women: starting from Guenter Levitin and ending with Großansicht. We have learned that the price of freedom might be high, but certainly the price of despotism is much higher.

Today, more than 4000 Syrian citizens (men, women and children) have paid their lives as a price for us to cross towards freedom after they broke the barrier of fear: including Hamza al Khateeb, Ibrahim Qashous, Nidal Janoud, Ghayath Matar, Hatem Hanna and Mishaal Tammo. From all of them, we have learned that Syrian blood is one blood; Syrian pain is one; and Syrians’ future is one future.

Ladies and gentlemen, throughout the years of working for public freedoms and human rights in Syria, many friends and colleagues have stood by me, from Syria and from all over the world. Even during my toughest days they have not lost faith in me, nor did they lose the belief in the righteousness of our cause. From them, I have learned a lot; and to them I owe a lot. Therefore, I am obliged to acknowledge their good influence; I have to thank them all, but must apologize that the time given to me is too short to reveal all their names. However, I consider this honor which I am receiving today as an award not to me only, but also to all of them. Therefore, on behalf of them all and of myself, I declare here the establishment of the Center for Transitional Justice in Syria, which I hope to be a tool to help our Syria pass through the crises that have resulted from decades of despotism, by accomplishing truth, justice, and reconciliation.

Finally, allow me to address the great people of Syria, and especially the families of the casualties, civilian and military, whose grief makes me feel ashamed. While addressing them, I wish I could visit all of them and tell them that I am sure that all of us will go beyond our grief and pain, and that we will all work together, hand in hand, for our future; a future that is based on freedom, dignity, and citizenship; a future in which there will be no winner and no loser; no victor and no defeated; no majority and no minority; a future in which all of us will be free citizens who live in a free country, safe and secure, together with our partners in humanity.

Ladies and gentlemen, while I am filled with pride and honor at receiving this esteemed award, allow me to dedicate it to the great people of Syria who make me feel proud to be a Syrian citizen; Hinana and Adad, my children who are paying the price of my faith in human values; and Yara, who shares with me every day the fear and risk, but also the dream and hope.

Thank you.

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