- By: Mona Katoub
- updated: November 23, 2020
- reading time: 7 Minutes and 51 seconds
Yakeen Bido, known as Mirna al-Hassan, from Idlib, is a freelance journalist and member of the Syrian Women’s Political Movement.
Yakeen Bido is known as Mirna al-Hassan and this became the name she is known with over media outlets, and the name she introduces herself with. She was born in the city of Idlib. She studied sociology for four years at Tishreen University in Latakia, but she did not obtain the certificate due to the circumstances in Idlib governorate after the outbreak of the 2011 revolution. Mirna says: I tried to continue studying virtually and enrolled at the “Rushd” University, department of government institutions management, but I faced technical problems and did not like the experience of remote learning, in addition to my media career that I had started, all that prevented me from pursuing my education. Mirna continues: after that, I focused on my media work, I started with written journalism, then moved on to the radio and then to the TV, as I worked as a reporter for “Orient” TV.
Mirna describes her relationship with the start of the Syrian revolution as the new life. Although the situation in Syria deprived Mirna from achieving her dream of pursuing her higher studies in media sociology, she worked on herself to refine her media knowledge, to be her city’s voice against the killing and repression machine the regime uses against Idlib.
Regarding her relationship with her city of Idlib, Mirna says: Idlib was considered a forgotten and marginalized governorate compared to other governorates such as Damascus and Latakia, but it is the air that keeps me alive. She adds: I tried during my school years to broaden my knowledge, meet people from the rest of the governorates and deepen my affiliation to Syria in general.
Returning to 2011 and the start of the spark of the Syrian revolution, Mirna says: at the beginning, I was watching the demonstrators and tried to understand the history of the Syrian women and men with the regime and how these people suffered for decades from the power of the dictator. I started feeling affiliated with these people. And through the coordination with my friends, we started participating in the set-ins and demonstrations. Even in Latakia, we tried to support women and men who conducted anti-regime transient demonstrations. The greater the regime’s oppression is, the more Mirna insists on going on against it, revealing her face and defying oppression.
Mirna’s family, and the population of Idlib governorate in general, were charged as being “terrorists”, which made them a target to the fire and bullets of the regime. They lost their homes and properties and many lost their lives. However, Idleb liberation in 2015 was a triumph for every free Syrian, as Mirna says.
On the personal level, Mirna has become more determined to be an influential media voice, especially that this field is dominated by males. Mirna says: I wanted to break the stereotype of women and prove that we are able to serve our cause whether we are educated or not and regardless of our backgrounds and differences. She adds: through my work, I was able to be an incentive to other women to access the media field, and I contributed to changing the community’s perspective of working women in various fields.
“Political performance without fair female representation is imperfect, and its outcome will inevitably be imperfect.”
Mirna’s interest in political action started with her study of sociology and work in journalism, as her curiosity to be acquainted with all aspects of life around her encouraged her to search in the political reality in Syria, and today the politics has become a daily living reality that needs to be tracked and analyzed to extrapolate the course of events and understand the changes on the Syrian and international arenas and their influence on Syrian women/ men.
On the challenges facing political action in Syria, Mirna says: marginalizing the majority of Syrian women/ men from political participation has always been one of the biggest obstacles in the development of political action. As most of the individuals or entities that tried in the past to work in politics and create change ended up in prisons or exile. At present, with the relentless attempts to understand the Syrian political reality, there remains a loophole related to the exclusion from political participation that the Syrian people lived for decades.
Regarding the challenges facing Syrian women in the political action, Mirna thinks that societal challenges, represented by customs, traditions and the inferior look at women, are among the most difficult ones, as women are subject to specific stereotypes in terms of work, and once one woman breaks the stereotype and tries to access the fields that are restricted to men, such as politics, she faces the rejection of her society. Mirna adds: even women who became members of the Syrian People’s Council or some ministries, were just an image to achieve the requirement of women presence, but they are not decision makers.
“Having a Syrian women political body that includes this number of women, residing inside or outside Syria, is in itself a major achievement, and a step for women to regain their political status.”
On her membership in the Syrian Women Political Movement, Mirna says: I became a member of the Movement in 2019, after participating in several political and interactive seminars with Syrian women and men working in the political field or are activists in it. Being a Syrian residing inside Syria, I’m aware of our need to communicate our voices by ourselves and not through representatives, and being in a political body may play a role in achieving this, or at least reinforcing the importance of women’s voices from inside Syria in political bodies, and not to enhance the idea of speaking on behalf of a group of people as long as they are able to represent themselves and describe their situations.
From Mirna’s point of view, having a Syrian women political body that includes this number of women, residing inside or outside Syria, is in itself a major achievement, and a step for women to regain their political status. Mirna says: any political performance without fair female representation is imperfect, and its outcome will inevitably be imperfect. Mirna adds: to overcome the obstacles we faced in the past nine years, we must stop at our mistakes and learn from them, we need to rebuild confidence in each other as individuals, and in the political work and goal that the revolution happened for.
Mirna says: It is important not to forget, in the upcoming stage, the sacrifices made and to remind ourselves with the female and male martyrs who were killed during the revolution, and with the female and male detainees, and with everyone who paid the price for her/ his claim to freedom, as we must restore our peaceful voice and arm ourselves with the word in the face of the killing machines with its various forms.
One of the positive situations that Mirna remembers during the years of the revolution was the day of one of the transient demonstrations in the city of Latakia, when the security forces attempted to arrest the young men participating, but the chants of women and their support for the demonstrators prevented their arrest, and who knows what fate they would meet after, this incident is an example of the ability of our voices to change and not being silent in the face of the repression machine.
Due to her work as a journalist, Mirna encounters people and events that leave a good impact on herself. For example, while covering events for children, young girls often express their admiration of her and their desire to work as media professionals like her in the future.
On the other hand, Mirna went through harsh moments while covering the happenings in the city of Idlib, where she sees the bodies of children killed in the bombing of the regime. Those scenes from the reality of daily life were harsh, that even media outlets and social media did not publish them sometimes.
On Syria that Mirna dreams of, she says: a free Syria without al-Assad regime, and that the Syrian people witness the trial of al-Assad as a war criminal, as I dream of an inclusive Syria that holds all of its daughters and sons, with their different beliefs and affiliations, and to build a country that respects freedoms and is interested in science and culture .
Mirna’s message to the female and male Syrians and the people of Idlib in particular is: stay determined and stick to your word, winds have stormed on our revolution and will storm more but we are a powerful and revolutionary people who rose up against the regime and paid massively with the blood of martyrs, and we have many female and male detainees, and 70% of our country is destroyed, we must not forget all that and the perpetrator must be held accountable.
And to the Syrian women, Mirna says: you are strong, you stood beside men in all circumstances and faced difficulties, you were mothers, fathers, sisters, wives and a haven for your families, and you were eligible to assume greater responsibilities.