Yassin al-Haj Saleh is a Syrian intellectual and writer from Ar-Raqqah. He spent 16 years of his life (1980 to 1996) in Syrian regime prisons. Saleh has been heavily involved in the Syrian revolution, writing and working alongside young activists. He was in hiding in Eastern Ghouta for months in 2012. He then went back to his home town after this was liberated from the regime forces, but had to flee to Turkey after the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (ISIS) started to impose its repressive rule and harass secular activists. Shortly after this, his wife, Samira Khalil, was kidnapped by Islamists in Douma, near Damascus, along with three other civil society activists from the Violations Documentation Centre. Their whereabouts is still unknown. Saleh has recently established an independent Syrian cultural centre in Istanbul called ‘Hamesh’ (Arabic for ‘margin’).
In this interview, Yassin al-Haj Saleh critically reflects on various thorny questions concerning the Syrian revolution: